I'm still not feeling well, and I only managed an hour on the allotment this weekend. So there's nothing really to report. Yesterday we managed to go out for a slightly belated birthday meal at a Vietnamese in town, and then went to see 'Blood Diamond' at the cinema over the road. Namissa's Sierra Leonean, and anyone watching it can imagine for themselves how we felt when the girls got caught up in the chaos.
Kumbi, who was 11 at the time, was briefly in the fighting just after the coup on May 25th 1997, which was orchestrated by someone living just round the corner from us in Ladywood. She was rescued by the US navy after the Red Cross organised a ceasefire to get civilians out, and the first we heard about it was when she was in teh air bound for Stanstead. Fortunately, after endless delays, we'd managed to get clearance to bring the two of them about a week before. She arrived badly traumatised, and is still affected by it all. Mina was five at the time, too young to understand what was happening, and never saw any fighting. But she was taken upcountry, the phone lines were down, and it took six weeks before we knew she was safe. Then it was another six weeks before we could get her taken over the border to Guinea, and flown out.
I managed to track down a link to a short filmclip about a girl who spent a weekend with us a few years ago. When she was 13, the rebels killed all her family and cut her hands off. She struck lucky, and was on her way to be adopted by a couple in Canada when we met her. She had brand new artificial hands, which looked quite convincing, but were totally useless, so they just got taken off and left behind the door with her shoes as soon as she came in the house. It's the clip at the bottom of the page.
The film makes inevitable minor errors, but the portrayal of the bloody madness in rebel-held areas is pretty accurate, as is the obsession with diamonds. The war was nothing but an excuse for all parties to take advantage and mine like crazy. Definitely worth watching.
Early mechanical carriages
1 day ago