Tonight on a quiet street in Congo, 16 people sat around a long table on a warm patio. In their group were people from Canada, Australia, Norway, The Netherlands, England, Scotland, and the U.S. The mosquitoes were biting, but it didn’t rain.
To humor the Americans on the night before Thanksgiving, everyone went around the table and said what we were thankful for:
10 a.m. coffee breaks.
Our families who miss us, but love us enough to let us go.
(…and Toyotas with winches.)
The responsibility we’ve been trusted with to do the things we do…and the privilege.
The little moments when we enjoy something that reminds us of home.
The people we live and work with who make us happy.
And a little girl named Ravette.
“We came to Africa for the work, we stayed for the people.”
Ravette is a 9-year-old orthopedics patient who always has a smile on her face. Always.
When Ravette was little she suffered from a leg deformity caused by quinine, a drug used to treat malaria. When the medicine was mistakenly injected into her nerve instead of the muscle, it caused her knees to grow in the wrong direction. Ravette is still in casts, but she’s learning to walk again.
This morning Ravette hobbled to my office. To get here from the hospital, you have to walk through a common area we call the café. It’s unusual to have patients walk through this part of the ship, so she quickly snagged everyone’s attention. That’s when the clapping started. Each table she walked past gave a little cheer. I’ve never seen a child with a smile as big as hers was today.
If she had been at our table tonight, Ravette would have said she was thankful to walk again. Then she would have giggled as she listened to 16 people go around and say what they were thankful for.
Because they were all thankful for Ravette.
What are you thankful for this year?