[ 16:11 sunday 1 july – number 181 bus between bakewell and sheffield ]
the sun’s shining and the moors stretch to the horizon in all directions, punctuated by limestone crags. i’ve never visited this piece of britain before. for the last couple of days i’ve been staying in the midst of it with mark waddington, who’s running projects in gambia, sierra leone, ghana and camaroon for a charity called village aid. i met mark in the point seven bar in tamale, northern ghana, one night last november and spent a weekend with him, his girlfriend anatu and her son mickey in the mole game reserve.
village aid’s annual meeting took place yesterday in a community hall in bakewell. it was a lively and open-spirited affair, not at all bureaucratic. i have never come across a development organisation so rooted in a single community as is village aid in this small market town. the trustees and members are bound together by a myriad neighbourhood links. from this springs a real sense of shared endeavour.
anatu was there, as was saeed, who runs village aid’s tamale office and whose wedding i attended. it was surreal to be with them again in such different surroundings.
there has been another small miracle. my canon digital camera was stolen from the mandela development centre in tamale back in november. i did not expect to see it again but as i write it is in a bag beside me. someone tried to sell it to a friend of saeed’s a couple of months ago. it still had some of the photos i took at his wedding, which were recognised and word got back to him. after some delicate to-ing and fro-ing he was able to recover it and this afternoon it came back into my hands.
long-term readers may recall that this is not the first time the camera and i have parted company and been improbably reunited. within a couple of hours of acquiring it in 1999 i left it on the underground in london. it was picked up by a group of surfers from perth, australia, who took it on holiday with them to cornwall and handed it in to the lost property office a month later with 25 photos depicting their various exploits and a note wishing me well.
it’s not a particularly good camera and i haven’t exactly looked after it well. but somehow we seem destined to remain together.