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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Healing, and far to go

Masika went home today, which was definitely my HIGH of the day (we do family highs and lows at dinner). When she arrived, 5 years down a road of neglect, malnutrition, and apathy, with her edematous limbs and peeling skin, I doubted she would survive. In fact she comes from the furthest town away from us within the district, and only came to our health center after being sent home from the main district hospital to die. I rather agreed with their prognosis when I saw her. For the first two weeks she only seemed to get worse. Her father was in jail for stealing cocoa, her mother had long ago abandoned her, and the two grandmothers who could have cared for her had clearly already failed. But God had other plans, and slowly rescued her. By the third week she was sitting, then standing, and for the last few days walking. Today she was trying to get into my pockets for candy, take my pen, or play with my wedding ring on my hand while I wrote. Her swelling melted away, and her life returned, with a measure of smile and peskiness. This one-month time-lapse resurrection is an amazing thing to see. We ended July with 35 severe acute malnutrition admissions (just shy of TRIPLE the average month's intake!!!). Frankly the sheer weight of misery and numbers of sad stories boggles my ability to engage fully with each one. But Masika stood out, partly because of her age, partly because of the distance her grandmothers came to get help, partly because of the miracle of her transformation. And partly because she represents hope for all the others, hope that if she can heal then they can too.
There are two tiny ones whose mothers have recently died, with dedicated fathers, unusual to see men caring for small children in this way. One disappeared for two weeks then came back, clearly not within the rules . . but her father explained that demons had haunted her from her dead mother, and he had to pay a witch doctor to get rid of them (it only cost about a dollar . . but I still challenged him with the truth that Jesus is more powerful than any demons, or any witch doctors). There are three with AIDS. There is one whose mother took her to have her baby teeth cut out of her gums in what is believed to be a cure for diarrhea. There are several with TB. There is one whose only misfortune is that her mother is pregnant and weaned her too early, a circumstance two of my own kids survived without ill effect in the environment of our relative wealth. There are a handful with sickle cell disease, and more who have washed up on the shore of a grandmother's care after a loose marriage finally shipwrecked. Luke rounded with me today (hence the decent phtotos) and it did not take long for him to comment: behind every sick child there seems to be a story of a family with relationships in distress. So true.

1 comment:

the emrys said...

this is truly touching. you guys do an amazing job