05 August 2020, The Tablet

Paddling for water storage tanks at Mutemwa Leprosy Care Centre: Journey's End

by Teresa Yonge, James Perkins

Paddling for water storage tanks at Mutemwa Leprosy Care Centre: Journey's End

This was the last day of our paddling on the River Stour, in an effort to make a difference to the Mutemwa water storage situation. We have paddled the 134-mile length of the River Thames, on our little local River Stour, just 24.2 miles long. We have raised well over our target of £3000 through the help and support of JBMS, the John Bradburne Memorial Society, and the Just Giving charity site, please see links below. We have completed the paddle in 15 days, and we have both really enjoyed this little adventure together with you all.

Kate Macpherson, the secretary of JBMS, will be organising a further enquiry into the water storage tank situation at Mutemwa leprosy Care Centre in Zimbabwe. This will be done before any of this sponsored money is sent over. It is vitally important to get this right, so as to buy exactly and only what is needed, and also to find out where the tanks will be put and what size will be best. 

Ann Lander, an old friend of John's, and her family have been helping with the water situation over many years at Mutemwa, and we will have to see exactly what is still there, and what is in good working order, and what condition. We will do our best to get this right. There will be information and photographs in due course, of how Mutemwa will and can be improved. We thank you all, for those like Ann and her family, who have helped improve the water situation at Mutemwa in the past, and also those of you now, helping Mutemwa's water storage situation, for the future.

This 134-mile paddle has been an incredible journey, and one quite different from going solo, and that in itself, is an indication that it is important that we are, or learn to be, flexible and adjust to the changes that we go through in life, whether it be a lockdown because of Covid-19, with all its restrictions, or a personal one, when one needs the help of another in order to do things differently, like taking on a challenge in a bigger canoe, that is too heavy to manage alone, because the many portages going in and out of the river many times.

It is a lesson that we DO need each other, and just like the saying goes, no man, or woman, is an island.

“No man is an island. No one is self – sufficient; everyone relies on others” comes from a saying by the 17th-century English author and metaphysical poet, John Donne (1572 - 1631). The phrase “no man is an island”  expresses the idea that human beings do badly when isolated from others, and need to be part of a community in order to thrive. John Donne, who wrote the work that phrase comes from, was a Christian but this concept is shared by other religions, principally Buddhism.


No man is an island entire of itself,

every man is a piece of the continent,

a part of the main.


If a clod be washed away by the sea,

Europe is the less,

as well as if a promontory were,

as well as any manor of thy friend’s,

or of thine own were.


Any man’s death diminishes me,

because I am involved in mankind.

And therefore, never send to know

for whom the bell tolls;

It tolls for thee.

John Donne


So, you see dear friends, this oneness and vital connectivit, is as important as the breath in our bodies. We are all a part of the main, and I see and understand that completely as God, for God ia love, and we are all a part of, and connected, through that love.

None of us are an island unless we create that for ourselves or choose it, and yet sometimes our circumstances leave us in a place of isolation for a while, until we hopefully get to realise that we DO need to be a part of the main. 

This trip has taught me so much about myself and my failings. James has been a gift to me in showing me a side to him that is full of love, kindness, patience and compassion, even in the face of my sometimes impatient and intolerant little ways of being and doing things “my way”, particularly with all the stopping and starting to take the “perfect” picture. It is easier to go solo, but pairing up on this trip has helped me to look at myself and my ego, or non-self, and for that I am eternally grateful to James. We have gone through it all, and have come out the other end stronger in our friendship, and respectful of each other and our 'little ways' that challenge. I am feeling wiser, humbled, more self-aware and will always be grateful to James.  

So let us remember to stay connected with each other as we go through life, and keep a look out for those that may need an outstretched hand or even a simple smile, a kind word, some tolerance, a moment of our time, a phone call, a prayer, a candle, for this is what love is all about. Love starts right here within ourselves, so let us give ourselves a big hug in gratitude for who we are, warts and all!, for we are all just human beings, on our own individual paths of learning, as we go along our own rivers of life. From this place of self-love, may we reach out to others, our brothers and sisters on this beautiful planet, as we all hold hands with each other, wherever we are.

So, there we are, and before I sign off, I would like to say a big thank you for coming along with us on our journey. May we strive to continue to keep connected, and do the best that we can, while taking one day at a time, as we continue to be the love that we all are.

Thank you, dear uncle John, for being that true example and shining light of love, through your faith and love of God, and for all the love that you shared with your friends at Mutemwa Leprosy Care Centre. You are an example to us all.


With love and much gratitude,

Teresa and James.





What do you think?


You can post as a subscriber user ...

User comments (0)

  Loading ...