That’s two in a row. Thanksgiving was awesome and so was last weekend as we traveled to Regina to celebrate a convocation from the University of Regina.
The individual convocating is one of the guys who shares a house with our youngest son, Matthew, who is in the process of completing his degree. His name is Patrick Wang’ombe and he is from Kenya. He is a fine young man who was raised by his mother, attended boarding school and then came to Canada to pursue a degree in business.
He and a couple other Kenyan students ended up sharing a couple of large houses with Matt and other young men from this area: Mason Foraie, Dane Eremenko, and Tiro Mthembu. They affectionately named their dwellings The Wolf Den (1 and 2). Angela and I stayed overnight with the guys on a couple of occasions and know the house did not always live up to its name, at least not when we were there.
When Patrick’s mother came to visit in 2012, the Wolf Den renters and their mothers got together in Regina to welcome her by hosting a Momma Paloosa event. They had a great time as they gave the nurse from London, England a celebration she will not forget.
Well, Patrick’s mother returned again this year to attend his convocation and was treated to a great party at the Wolf Den. Angela and I were invited since we got to know Patrick (and his fellow Kenyan roommates) when they came to Maple Creek for holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas or stopped in when passing by on the highway.
The Regina celebration was a blast and we were introduced to many people in the Kenyan community. The house was packed and would be a safe guess that 50 to 60 people of all ages attended the event. The food was fantastic, and Angela seemed particularly happy and it wasn’t due to the apple cider she was consuming. An observant individual (not me) openly speculated that her jovial spirit was likely due to the fact Patrick’s mother was the only adult who was shorter than Angela. Yes, there are a few adults shorter than my wife, and when she finds one it is definitely reason for her to par-tay!
However, Angela and Patrick weren’t the only ones who had reason to celebrate. Much to my surprise, a flaming cake loaded with candles was carried out during the party and parked in front of me. With all the focus on the convocation party, I had forgotten it was my birthday, but Matthew had not.
While at the Wolf Den, I had a lengthy conversation with a man who caused me to stop and reassess my goals (my bucket list) and ask if I am aiming high enough when it comes to my lifelong ambitions. The individual is Joseph Mburu and he teaches at the U of R. He is the only person I have met who aspires to be a national president – not a president of a multinational corporation, but the president of Kenya to be exact. That is an admiral goal and it is encouraging to see an individual aspiring to be a leader for the purpose of social improvement. Providing greater government accountability, locating missing revenue and raising the standard of living, especially for the impoverished masses, are his passions. Go, Joseph, go!
Meanwhile, I am focused on menial tasks such as cleaning up our garden, basement and preparing for winter. My priorities seem insignificant in comparison to Joseph’s. Perhaps I need to raise the bar and the expectations I have for myself. I was reminded on the weekend that all of us have the ability to help improve the world around us and help our fellow man, one person at a time.
Despite all the celebrating that went on, there were a couple of things I could not get out of my mind. Firstly, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and for me it strikes close to home in two instances in my family, and so it was that I found myself listening to statistics on cancer and discussions about treatment methods.
I was shocked to see the American Cancer Society had posted information from 2008-10 showing the probability of a U.S. resident contracting cancer in their lifetime. According to the information presented, 50 per cent of men and one-third of all women will develop cancer at some point in their life! If I am reading the chart correctly, it also states the probability of dying of cancer is 23 per cent for males and 19 per cent for women. Those are dismal figures and they seem even grimmer when a person considers the U.S. population is 319 million.
The info presented can be found on the American Cancer Society website under Cancer Facts and Figures 2014. The site also states “in 2014, there will be an estimated 1,665,540 new cancer cases diagnosed and 585,720 cancer deaths in the U.S. Cancer remains the second most common cause of death in the U.S., accounting for nearly one of every four deaths.”
Those figures remind me of war casualties or epidemic fatalities and it makes me wonder what is going on. If that many deaths were caused by street drugs, there would be a public outcry and government action to immediately deal with the crisis.
I guess it’s time to also check Canadian cancer figures and see if there is any good news on the home front.