Sunday, June 7, 2009

Fire at Lomngeletjane

Friday was quite a day. We went up to Lomngeletjane for our weekly Friday morning meeting with Bethuel and John. While there, Lucky Mabasa who is helping us plan and plant an orchard at Lomngeletjane came to meet with me. I have been trying to find out what was planned, and identify where the trees that another volunteer, Dennis, bought because I can't find even half of the trees he paid for. I finally finished with them and Jeri, Gary and I walked up to the preschool room to bring up some of the teaching aids that were bought for them. I bought them a storage cabinet a few weeks ago which Gary and Jeri put together for me while I was meeting with the various people. We were up at the preschool for about 20 or 30 minutes tops.

Before we walked up, I went to use the newly painted latrine. I noticed the kids were picking up trash. I also noticed that the older, retired teacher who has been teaching the third graders was burning the trash. I thought of saying something, and then thought I would be rude so I kept quiet. BIG MISTAKE. When Jeri, Gary and I turned the corner of the preschool heading back down to the primary school I could see over the roof of the primary school that the fire had spread. Indeed it was out of control. The other teachers and most of the kids were gone. The old man and two small boys where trying to beat out the fire with branches. One of the young men who are helping to build the teacher's house saw the fire and was running to pull the water line they had just laid going to the teacher's house down to the fire. He ran right into the middle of the fire with the water hose. There were several other guys down in the pit they were digging for the septic tank for the house. I went to them and told them there was a fire. They just looked at me and kind of laughed. I then kind of hollered at them in a panic "Come help put out the fire. I don't want our school to burn." That got their attention. They poked their head up to see, saw the smoke and started running to help put it out.

There was only one container that would hold water and one empty 2 liter pop bottle. With all of us helping, the fire was put out. If the young man, Wandile, hadn't rushed into the fire with the hose, we would not have been able to contain it. I burned about a 1/3 of the field. After the fire was over, Wandile was having a hard time breathing and was having a lot of pain when he breathed so we took him to the clinic in Manzini where he received some medication.

Thank God Gary, Jeri and I were still there or the fire would have burned out of control possibly burning our buildings and the surrounding homesteads. I have had the pit in my stomach for the last three weeks about the fire danger at that school. It is approaching winter so the fields are very dry and more and more fires are starting all over Swaziland. They will just get worse. The first thing Rev. Nyameka and Bethuel said when I told them about the fire was: "You have been worried about that." I HATE it when I am right!!!

Praise God that no one was hurt, that the buildings didn't burn and that Gary, Jeri and I were still there to mobilize the workers to help put the fire out.

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