Monday, May 29, 2006

Letter to Senegal

Here’s the letter I’ve just sent to our ten-year-old World Vision- sponsored boy in Senegal.

My Dear Youngar,

It was with much sadness that I read in your letter of the loss of your father. My heart goes out to you with hope for the welfare of you and your family.

From what you have said in your letter, it seems you are bearing up reasonably well. It is good that you are applying yourself to your studies at school. That will assure you of your future success. It will also assist you in caring for your family, both the one you were born into, and the family you will build when you are a grown man.

I’m pleased also that you are helping your brother with the work at home. It’s very admirable, and as you know it is important that a family pulls together at a time of loss. I have every confidence in the abilities of you and your family to overcome this setback and to prevail.

To answer your question, my father died almost thirty years ago, when I was twenty years old. So I was a lot luckier than you, in that I had my father with me for a lot longer than you did. But it is never easy to lose someone who has been an anchor in one’s life. Harder still, I’m sure, for one so young as yourself.

For my mother and brother and sister, as well as for myself, the passing of so many years has eased the pain of loss, but on occasion we all still experience moments when the grief wells up again. It seems unbelievable sometimes that the world has gone on without my father, but the world will do so, of that you can be sure. So, despite everything, one is obliged to keep building for the future, because the future was given to us by our fathers and mothers.

Yes, we have many beautiful forests in Australia, but from where I live one must travel many miles to reach a truly virgin forest. We, of course, also have plantation forests that are planted and then harvested years later, to begin the cycle again. But I don’t think of those plantations as truly forests.

Are you fond of forests, Youngar? They are a wonderful place to go into and think about things. Are there dangerous wild animals in the forests where you live? Here we are fortunate that there are no real dangers in our forests, apart from snakes that really only want to be left alone.

I hope this letter finds your family strong and well, especially you, my friend. I look forward to more news from you. In the meantime, my thoughts and prayers are daily of you and yours.

With my fondest wishes and best regards,

Oncle Jacob


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