“The days flow away like the malarone pills.”
We collect empty blisters looking at how the full ones diminish, an irreversible sign of the time passing and of the Africa that is leaving us. I try to forget … I often open the window thinking “Fuck you Malaria”, I often go out with a short T-Shirt “Fuck you Malaria”, I often walk without socks “Fuck you Malaria”, but the truth is that it still scares me. I tremble thinking about this invisible threat, which here is omnipresent and stronger than any other one. “Fuck you Malaria” … I clench my teeth not to give up, while I listen to mosquitos buzzing around me and watch my ankles filled with pinches.
Today we went to see Patrick, a disabled person who runs a school in the middle of nowhere. He tells us that when he was 4 years old, he was on a street when a hurricane arrived. He fell for the strong wind and put his hands on the ground, from that moment he has never got up again.
A problem that may have seemed serious, becomes insuperable when you are in a society that considers you invisible. His Parents rejected him saying “We have 7 other children, you are not useful for us, you do not exist anymore”. The school rejected him too, “We do not accept disabled people, because they could infect other students or worse the teachers themselves.”
Little Patrick was not discouraged by this, he found an isolated school where its headmaster, setting in defiance of all other teachers, allowed him to study; at least until he himself died … Patrick was at the sixth class at the moment and the other teachers expelled him again without losing time, disgusted and frightened.
It is therefore not surprising to find disabled people on the roads in Ghana, the only ones in this country that ask for alms. They cannot even attend the elementary school, they cannot work with their hands and they cannot do a mental work.
Patrick managed to finish his studies alone and he decided to serve as an example by showing to everyone how even a disabled person can help the community. He founded a small school where disabled or very poor children were allowed to study for free. Obviously, even here, at the very beginning he faced an opposition. “You will not infect my children!” Some mothers screamed as they took their children away from that new place, preferring to deny them an education that would provide a paraplegic person.
But as if the mundane obstacles were not enough, other arrived from the air.
Bees. A flock of bees attacked the school just a week after it has opened. The Bees flew into his mouth, his ears, his nose, they covered him completely, in such a way that in order to remove them they had to give them fire. He and his students went to the hospital almost close to death. He himself with severe burns however alive.
Now they are trying to recover, using a mall and unsafe structure without electricity and without water, which is attached to a pig farm with disease-carrying pigs. But at least they have a place to stay and a possibility to study.
And so Patrick, with two iron bars tied to his legs and with his two crutches, walks towards the future, never giving up, smiling always, facing every new challenge and making me understand that, after all, everything is fine.
“Fuck you Malaria”, but this time for real.