Monday, April 11, 2011


I'm currently in my favourite chair. Snuggled at the perfect temperature under an afghan made by one of my grandmas and my favourite lovable pooch.

I've just finished my third chapter of the day of a book that has hooked me in all too easily. It's called 'Water for Elephants'. Glo and I decided that one of the books we would read for our 'book club' would be a book turned into a movie. We'd read the book first then see the movie after (and I'm guessing that as usual we'll like the book better).

I also just finished my very first cup of loose leaf tea. Mmmmmmmm... the smell alone melts me. The flavour for today? Hazelnut Cream. I really don't even need to drink it, it smells so good. My bladder is bursting from the tasting. It will have to wait because my dog is perfectly comfortable. Aside from my pinching and nearly bursting organ, so am I.

What's on my mind today?


I mentioned Freddie a few days ago. He was the gentleman that lives at the dump. He's around 60 with a smile as bright as the sun. Has a young wife an a 3 or 4 year old son.

Ok I've gotta go ... hold on.

Ahhhhhhhh ... my bladder is singing like a black southern choir in the middle of a Sunday morning service. Nice.

Back to Freddie.

The day I met him he was greeting the Compasio staff with what I guessing was his usual smile and kind words. His teeth were discoloured and if I remember correctly there may have been a couple missing.

From what I was told Freddie is a generous soul, willing to share what he has with those he loves.

Both Wally and I were introduced to Freddie while visiting the dump that Thursday but unfortunately (or fortunately) that is not the main impression of him we got to bring home with us.

Our introduction to him at the dump was rather brief. Enough to learn his role there, in some sort of unofficial leadership. He was loved.

What we will remember of Freddie happened the next day and was an unforgettable experience shared with others.

It was Friday afternoon and Wally and I had arrived on time to meet some staff to go play soccer in the Muslim community with some kids. Compasio does this each Friday afternoon. This would be our last item of business to complete until we could say we had seen every part of the operation.

When we arrived we sat for a few minutes and waited. There were a handful of staff around attending to their different jobs. We were relaxing on the couch when out of what seemed to be nowhere Freddie arrived at the office door.

What was not with him was that ever bright smile. Freddie was in tears.

As the staff opened the door to him and ushered him in. He began talking quickly in Burmese, letting the emotions and facts of his story escape.

Compasio's community staff are Burmese (I believe all are, if I'm wrong there are at least several). One of the male staff was there and began talking to Freddie, trying to calm him and find out what was so upsetting.

Other staff began trickling around as Freddie settled onto a spot on the hard cool floor in front of the office doors. There were 6 of us circled around Freddie, biding our time til we could help. (Ok so wally and I knew we'd likely not be of any help but we sat ready to listen).

Freddie talked quickly yet gently. We waited quietly and impatiently for the interpretation. It came slowly and rather choppy as his emotions flowed in and out of his story.

The staff interpret ting asked why he was upset.

It seemed that Freddie had been lent a fishing pole by that staff the day before during our visit to the dump, his son had been playing with it and it broke.

That was simple. He just needed to be reassured that it was not the end of the world. The staff did so, telling him everything was fine.

The conversation went on.

Freddie explained that he yelled at his son for playing with it and in doing so got his wife upset. She did not like the way he spoke to the boy.

Hmmmmm ... interesting.

The staff continued to try and understand Freddie's big problem, why there were so many tears. So far it sounded like a normal domestic spat, not really tear worthy.

As the English speaking female staff pressed with questions to be given through the Burmese staff in the middle, it seemed like forever by the time we were able to piece together what was going on. It seemed as though an interrogation of htis poor man was necessary to find out how anyone could make it better.

As time went on and the questions keep rolling the room was filled with confusion.

Freddie explained that his wife was mad that he spoke to the boy like that because he wasn't the father. They'd been married longer than the boy had been around but apparently Freddie was told years ago that he could not father children. In short, the assumption was that the wife had a child by someone else during their marriage and though Freddie fathered this child in every other way, the discipline given was not accepted, at least not by his wife.

At this point you may be confused. We all were. Especially the staff that had known freddie all this time and his family. They were all shocked at the fact that this boy wasn't his biological son and that this woman basically threw him out.

According to Freddie his wife had told his to leave their home (at the dump) and that if he didn't she would get her brothers after him, according to them he was an old man who was good for nothing. He would be beaten and who knows what else. I remember something about him having to pay money to someone to for causing trouble. His life and livlihood was taken away in a matter of hours.

It took quite a while before the 6 of us fully understood what Freddie was getting at, why he was truly hurt. Was it because of the question of paternity? Maybe, but he seemed ok about the fact that he was possibly raising someone else's son. Was it the fact that the woman he loved didn't want him anymore and he was considered to be expired goods? Possibly. Or was it that he had literally packed up all of his belongings on his bicycle, rode miles into town and now had no where to go and no one to love? This combined with the last question would be my best guesses.

Over the hour that we sat watching and listening to Freddie explain the traumatic events that were currently his life, we watched this adult man cry openly about his sudden losses and need to talk to someone.

Several times during that hour Freddie asked for Jimbo and A-man (a.k.a. A-bag). When the staff asked why them he said he just wanted to talk and that he loved them. He would then cry again and wipe away his tears. When encouraged to sit on a couch or a mat he refused and stayed on the floor. During pauses of discussion amongst the English speakers when trying to figure out the best solution as the people he requested weren't available right then, he made eye contact with each of us around the room and give a seated bow of thanks and say thank you in his language.

Once Jimbo was reached and a semi-solution was figured out, it was agreed that Freddie would be staying a couple of nights with a friend of his down at the market. Jimbo would go talk with him later that night.

This man melted my heart. As did his story.

I'm not sure which part of it got to me most. The fact that he loved the this boy birthed during his marriage whom he had always assumed wasn't his (although could have been, doctors are wrong everyday), that this man loved his wife enough to overlook this dust bunny bit of information, or that he was upset about leaving his home that happened to be at the town dump.

Or it could be that he was openly broken over the entire situation without pride or worry about what we thought, only caring to be heard and loved by someone trusted.

Wow. How much life is different here in North America, or at least the parts that I'm familiar with.

I hope Freddie is well today. I hope his smile is shining like the sun. I hope he is surrounded by someone who loves and listens to him.

I suppose when it all comes down to it. That's all we really need.

Love and Listen.