This man’s name is Remy and he’s quite remarkable. On my daily walks, I keep stopping in to say hello and chat with him and the assortment of friends that show up at his shop.
Yesterday, I stopped in and got caught up in a conversation with his friends from topics ranging from the changing climate, revolution in Burundi, the damage of local ecosystems caused by exploitative extractive industries and the hope for something better. All the while we spoke I was dripping sweat and Remy was quick to offer me a bottle of water, yet refused to take money when I insisted.
As I left his shop, one of the regulars, a frail man named Fred, walked outside with me and asked to show me his photo album. He pulled out a small laminated book from his pocket of photos showing his wedding, his son and his family. All the while, he had tears in his eyes. The last thing he showed me was a medical certificate that said he was HIV/AIDS positive. He explained the hardship that this has caused him, from the loss of his home, his family and his job. He then explained to me that despite his misfortune, Remy stands by him, offering him a place to sleep when he has none, feeding him when he goes hungry.
This morning, I was set on paying Remy for a service, since he has been so generous with me. I walked up to get breakfast, a rolex they call it, two eggs, onion and tomato on this delicious chapati bread. After finding the cook for me, Remy invited me to come sit with him. Soon, my rolex was done and once I again I found my payment refused. Remy told me it was because I was a good man, but I had to disagree. It’s clearly he who is the good man. He is beyond generous with what he has to everyone, whether they might have a lot or a little. I’m coming to realize what the true meaning of being a pillar of your community is.