As many of you already know, my first book, Take Flight: True Stories of How Dreams Shape Our Lives, is soon to be available! Thanks to all of you who have already pre-ordered your copies!
This book is a collection of 13 true short stories. Each author has a unique style and story to share. Please come celebrate with us at our launch on Friday, September 14, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. at the Didsbury Library!
In advance of the launch, I will be using my blog space to highlight each author. Please stay tuned each week!
This week, I am pleased to introduce a mother-daughter writing duo. Their unique story aptly called “The Other Side” centers around Rachele’s adoption as a baby in Benin, Africa. It beautifully captures the sights and sounds of Africa, and is written from the perspective of both mother and daughter.
June Clavagnier (nee Duguid) was raised in Castor, Alberta. After high school she attended Bible College before working as a missionary in Niger Republic and Benin in West Africa. She met her husband, Claude, in France while studying French. Together they were involved in a radio ministry in Africa. June loved the native people and built up relationships with them, both young and old. When she and Claude couldn’t have more than one child, it just seemed natural for them to adopt from the people that they had learned to love. They have one son, Joel, who works as a carpenter and lives in Calgary. They adopted Rachele when she was eight days old and she is going into grade twelve this fall. The Clavagniers returned from Africa in 2002 and are presently living in Olds, Alberta.
Rachele Clavagnier was born far away from any clinic or hospital in Benin, Africa. Her mother passed away shortly after her birth with complications that couldn’t be cared for by her nomadic family. The Clavagniers adopted her when she was eight days old. She has an older brother, Joel, who was the Clavagniers’ only born child. Rachele started her education in Niger Republic, first in a local kindergarten, and then in a missionary children’s school in the capital city. In grade three she returned to Canada with her family and has been here since. She will be in grade twelve this fall. Her passion in life is acting, singing and dancing. This summer she is attending Rosebud Theatre where she is part of the 2012 Passion Play.
“The Other Side” Story Excerpts:Africa. My second home. A place that called to me from the age of twelve and never let me go. I didn’t know it then, but plans were in place that would change the direction of my life forever. The year was 1994. Claude and I, along with our three year old son, Joel, were in the middle of a week of intensive Fulani language and cultural learning in Benin, Africa. Claude had the privilege of starting the Gospel radio ministry in the Fulani language that was played over the local radio station; I assisted him in the administration but spent most of my time developing relationships with the local women. I stood in the village, watching the sun settle over the thatched roof of a small mud hut. Soft mooing of the cows echoed in the distance as they returned from their day in the pasture that their nomadic herdsmen found for them. The dust raised by their hooves mingled with smoke from the outside cooking fires giving the sun a hazy look. Another day was finished. The women laughed and chatted as they rhythmically pounded yams, a staple in the Fulani diet. It didn’t matter that the babies on their backs cried out as they were jerked back and forth with their movements. Older children squealed with delight as they ran around pushing a small tin can with a long stick. Looking over to the hut across from the one we were occupying, I saw a small naked boy, flies covering his runny nose, clinging to his mother’s leg. He pointed to us, and sang out, “Yovo yovo bonsoir. Ca va bien, merci.” Despite living in Benin, Africa for more than three years, I felt conspicuous and doubted I would ever get used to this repetitive children’s chant that turned everyone’s attention to us: “White one, white one, good evening, are you fine? Thank you.” From “The Other Side” by contributing author June Clavagnier I watched the hand on the clock crawl over one more time to quarter after three. Class was nearly over. Thank God! It was definitely one of those days, I thought. Mrs. Weatherby rambled on while the class clown gave everyone a refreshing break. The bell rang, the shrill high-pitch noise exploding in my ears. I picked up my books, threw them in my bag and scrambled for my Ipod; I just wanted to go home and sleep, something I had been doing a lot the past few weeks. Sleeping was my defense mechanism. When I slept, I didn’t have to think about anything. Not the school work, not the so-called friends, and certainly not the trip to Africa I was about to embark upon. Nope, sleeping was my beautiful way of escaping life. I walked out the school doors mumbling a few words to my friends before I got on the bus. Why did I hang out with them, anyways? They all spoke about the shallowest things. There were much better things to do in life than obsess over boys, who probably wouldn’t like them back. Like sleep. As I sat on the bus, I put my headphones on and tried to push out the world. It could be so annoying at times. Always nagging me and wanting my attention. Always making me face another one of its days. It was all so exhausting. I finally reached my stop. Thankfully, I was the first one off everyday. There was honestly a small sliver of time that I could take surrounded by twelve-year-olds that smelled sweaty and looked like they’d just crawled out of a mud puddle. From “The Other Side” by contributing author Rachele Clavagnier