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Too many goodbyes: The pain and hope of loving an addict | Health



My mother packed her bags and left my father when she was seven months pregnant with me, her belly swollen under her loose-fitting maternity dress. She planned to stay with her parents until my father “got his act together”. But he never did, and she never returned.

She raised me on her own, with the help of her parents. My childhood was quiet and simple. I read books in my spare time and went to camp every summer. For vacation we would take the train for free to Montreal, or New Brunswick, enjoying our frugal travels thanks to my mum’s employment with a railway company.

Most weekends she was at work, so I spent Saturday and Sunday with my Maltese grandparents. My Nanna would cook stuffat-tal fenek (rabbit stew), and tell me it was Maltese chicken. I would watch hockey for hours with my Nannu, while we cracked peanuts into a bowl, shovelling handfuls of them into our mouths.

The first goodbye

When my grandparents were not able to watch me, my mum would reluctantly drive me across town to visit my father. Our visits were rare and stilted, our relationship like a broken car that fails to ignite.

I do not recall an affectionate hug or a tender word between us. I do remember empty beer cans piled high in a rubbish bin, the smell of cigarette smoke that coated the back of my throat, and the weight of my dad’s dog curled up in my lap.

I felt lonely at my father’s house. I would sit on the blue velour couch he had found in a rubbish dump as murder mysteries played on the TV; the silence between us as thick as the smoke he blew in my direction. Still, I held onto a seed of hope that one day things would change.

My father never said or did anything to make me think he loved me, and I held my love for him close, afraid of letting it show – but feeling it just the same.

When I was 15 years old I spent an evening with my aunt and uncle on my dad’s side. They were a loving couple who embraced both my mother and I, despite the fact that my parents had divorced long ago.

As I scraped the remnants of my chicken and potato dinner into the rubbish, I overheard hushed whispers from my mother and aunt.

“I don’t think Ryan will live much longer,” my aunt was saying of my dad.

I stuffed that piece of information deep inside of me and plastered a fake smile on my face for the rest of the evening.

[Jawahir Al-Naimi/Al Jazeera]

When it was time to head home I asked my mum about it. Her tone was matter of fact: My dad’s live-in girlfriend, who I adored, had left him. He was spiralling out of control; the house he now lived in was a gathering place for addicts and drifters. He had been found unconscious and beaten recently, likely by someone who was staying with him.

I felt myself sink into the seat of the car, deflated and defeated by my mother’s words.

I tried my best to hide my feelings, but as soon as the car pulled into the driveway I ran into my room and slammed the door, sobbing for the father who had never shown any interest in me.

I did not want my dad to die, and I did not want him to be an alcoholic and drug addict either. I wanted a normal dad, someone who would take me to baseball games and watch me in school plays.

A few days later, afraid to go alone, I asked my boyfriend if he would come with me to visit him.

A few of our friends rallied together and we drove over to his house. He seemed a little shaky and more haggard than the last time I saw him.

Before we left, I hugged him, unable to recall the last time we had touched, and he hugged me back. I wanted him to know that I loved him, especially if this was going to be goodbye.

Too many goodbyes - Brianna Bell

[Jawahir Al-Naimi/Al Jazeera]

A shared pain

For the next few months, I waited. Every time the phone rang, I expected to hear that he was dead. But I never did, and eventually life returned to normal.

My dad moved out of his house and in with his parents.

By my late teens I was barely in touch with him, but every time I heard talk of him it was because he had been arrested or hospitalised. I would overhear snippets of conversations – he had been found beaten somewhere, he had had a fall, he was being given alcohol in prison or hospital because his body was so reliant on it – but I never knew the full story. 

Underpinning all those stories, however, was the suggestion the end was imminent. So on the rare occasions our paths crossed, I always assumed it was for the last time and would try to cherish those moments believing they were goodbye.

Then I met my husband, Daniel. Shortly after I was married, at 21, I found out I was pregnant. I was excited to learn that my half-brother was also expecting his first child. I had never been that close to my two half-brothers, who were much older than I and had a different mother. But the three of us did share the particular pain of loving – and being afraid of losing – our dad.

We decided we would get together with our dad at my oldest brother’s house. I hoped my pregnancy would soften something inside of him and perhaps even motivate him to finally beat the demons he battled. 

I was excited to see him.

Too many goodbyes - Brianna Bell

[Jawahir Al-Naimi/Al Jazeera]

At the house, I shared pregnancy tales with my sister-in-law as my half-brother, Aaron, told me how happy he was that our babies would be so close in age. For a moment, we felt like a normal family. Then I asked Aaron where dad was, and his face darkened. 

“Upstairs,” he replied. I knew there was more to the story, but I did not ask.

My oldest brother, Jason, whose house we were at, was also nowhere to be seen.

Nearly an hour later, they both appeared – my dad stumbling and clearly drunk, Jason trying to keep him upright.

“You’re drunk. Why would you do this?” It was the first time I had ever raised my voice at him.

At first, there was silence. I felt Aaron’s hand on the small of my back. He whispered words meant to soothe me, but the damage had already been done.

Then the shouting began – slurred, incomprehensible shouting – and the banging and crashing. 

At one point, my dad was locked outside to cool off. 

Aaron returned with a gash on his forearm and his face dripping with sweat.

“You have to be careful what you say,” he shouted at me.

Apparently, dad had become a violent drunk.

Jason decided it was not safe for us to stay downstairs, so my sister-in-law, Daniel and I went to his bedroom and locked the door.

The crashing and banging continued downstairs. 

“We need to call the police,” I whispered. I do not remember who made the call, but someone in that bedroom did.

When we heard the approaching sirens, I unlocked the bedroom door. But it was eerily quiet downstairs. My father and brothers were nowhere to be found. 

It turned out, not wanting him to be arrested, that they had driven off with my dad, but the police soon caught up with them and my father was arrested. 

“I never want to see him again,” I sobbed that night.

Broken and bruised

Five months later my daughter was born. I was adamant that I would not see my dad nor have him around her. But eventually my brothers wore me down and over the next few years, I saw him occasionally, and briefly, in public places. 

I still loved him, but I was also afraid of him.

Then, I received a phone call. My dad had fallen out of a third-storey window, and nearly died. He was in hospital, his body broken and bruised. I hung up the phone and immediately got in my car. Daniel drove me two hours to the hospital, and waited in the car with our two daughters while I went inside. 

My father’s grey hair was matted. His collar bone protruded from his hospital gown. All of my anger melted away. I tenderly signed the cast on his broken arm, scrawling my name beside those of my brothers. I held his hand gently; it had been a decade since I last embraced him.

“I love you, dad,” I said, behind tears. I was saying goodbye, this time, for real.

Too many goodbyes - Brianna Bell

[Jawahir Al-Naimi/Al Jazeera]

A small town

Six weeks later Daniel returned home from work early. He sat me down and told me that my oldest brother, Jason, had died of a big heart attack. He was 42.

It took us days to locate our father, who was now living on the streets.

On the day of Jason’s funeral he was in prison – I am still not sure why.

I stumbled around in a fog. This was not the way it was supposed to be; my brother was not supposed to be the one to die.

I refused to talk to my dad, believing he had abandoned me again as I grieved.

Then, in 2019, shortly after I turned 30, I received a call from my dad’s sister. I answered the phone with shaking hands.

My grandmother had a big stroke but was still alive. She was a tough woman, strong-willed and fierce. I remember her cooking pheasant she had found dead by the side of the road, and spending hours sewing elaborate quilts. She took my father in when nobody else would, and no matter how many times he manipulated her, she always welcomed him back.

For the same reason, I had always avoided visiting her; afraid my father might be there. But when I heard the news, I packed our bags and drove to the small town where she lived. I sat with her in the hospital and held her hand; whispered to her how strong she was.

Too many goodbyes - Brianna Bell

[Jawahir Al-Naimi/Al Jazeera]

At dinner my aunt asked me if I knew that my father was experiencing ministrokes or TIAs and was no longer able to care for himself. Still, he drank and took drugs.

“Do you want to see him?” she asked.

We were in the same small town as him now. Earlier in the day, I had looked at the faces of every elderly man we passed, afraid that his might be among them.

Part of me wanted to say yes. But I did not. 

I understood that this really could be my last chance to say goodbye. But I had been saying it for half my life already. 

The next day, we drove out of that tiny town that contained my father, and I felt something that was not regret. As I looked back at my three daughters playing on the backseat, I felt free.

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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million



Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe




A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.

Source –

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News




Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.

Source –

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