If you follow this blog, you may have noticed that I have not shared any people stories yet. Not that there aren’t any to tell its just that in my opinion it was better to wait and take great care in sharing my first people story. After all, there just might be someone out there who has no clue what goes on in a Reserve except for when I share. Something that always bothers me when foreign volunteers/missionaries/aid workers come to Africa is that when some of them share their “people stories” they never take the time to ask: “if I was in these peoples shoes would I be OK with what outsiders write about me, my culture and my troubles?” Often times in their stories, Africans come out looking like people who have no initiative whose only salvation is from foreign intervention. So it is with great care I begin my series called “Hope Notes.” Every time you see this title you will know I am sharing the Hope I have found whilst living on this Reserve.
Truth be told, life on a Reserve, especially this Reserve is challenging and often times very, very difficult. I have found some similarities to life back in Africa, I have encountered situations that have left me grieved and puzzled just as I did when I was back home. There are families stuck in a cycle of pain from suicides just as there are families at home that have been horribly affected by HIV/AIDS. But just as I was determined to share with you the Africa that most outsiders don’t see, I promised myself that when I got to Pikangikum, I would find Hope and oh friend, I have found it, little pockets all over the Reserve vibrate, alive and refusing to die!
Ruth and Silas home and grandkids.
Ruth and Silas are proud parents of 5 children and 4 grandchildren, Ruth despite her disabilities is a hard working woman who can do pretty much anything a stay at home mom does (drive too!) The other day she invited me to come see how her husband smokes moose meat. Silas is a skilled hunter and fisherman and provides well for his family. I enjoy visiting them, their house is warm, inviting and peaceful, their grandkids are too adorable! much of Sunday was spent with us getting to know each other as we watched Silas work. Ruth is an inspiration to me, she was not born this way, 15 years ago a doctor gave her the wrong medication and the result was they had to amputate her hands and her legs from just below the knee. I am told by others who know her well that against all odds Ruth rarely has a sad countenance.
I peppered Silas with lots of questions on hunting. He is passionate about it and this moose was the biggest he had ever hunted. Silas has been hunting since he was a teen. Natives each have a deignated area where they can hunt. People generally stick to their hunting boundaries.
Close to 4 hours later of slicing the meat, it is now ready to be smoked in a tippee. He only sliced the back thighs, it was a HUGE moose. He had the hind the legs and the rest he gave away to family and friends. Silas uses birch tree for firewood because he likes the flavour it gives the meat.
He closes up the tippee and then its now Ruths turn to work 🙂 She watches the fire stocking it up everytime the flames die down. This can be for about 3 hours. Then the meat is ready.
I didn’t stay to see how the meat turned out but before I left Ruth let me taste her deiicous moose meat stew. She is definitely a good cook! I am looking forward to tasting smoked moose meat.
As we chat about life she tells me that she was not always a joyful person, that lifes troubles had her and her husband stuck in a horrible cycle. I ask what happened to change everything, she thinks for a bit then a beautiful smile appears as she says: Jesus saved me.