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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Blaming Eve

In a move as old as Adam, the dramas presented by the primary school students on Thursday were disturbing to watch. They enacted two parallel families, each having a bevy of girls. But in each family one of the girls was distinguished by wearing a scarf on her head, and that particular character was consistently portrayed as bad: she did not bow low when greeting her elders, she did not respond humbly to the male teacher, she gave impertinent answers, she did not come straight home from school with the others, she met boys in the market and eventually made agreements to meet them for sex. One of the girls then was shown pregnant, and her mother gave her drugs to abort, and she died. Rather a sobering morality play for 4th to 7th graders . . .

I was disturbed by several things, watching. First, that the blame was put solely on the girls. It was their fault that they ended up pregnant, and then dead. OK there is value in emphasizing that we are human actors with responsibility, that our actions have consequences, that we have choices. But the unilateral nature of the blame was unfair, particularly since girls this age are almost exclusively preyed upon by older men. Secondly, the young girl playing the mother who gave the abortive drugs . . . is my neighbor, whom I help with fees, whose older sister was abused by a teacher two years ago, was pregnant, had an abortion, and then went through severe depression. It is heart-breaking to watch kids act out a drama that is so close to their real life, while the audience hoots and laughs (which I know is nervous laughter, but still). Lastly, that the drama ended without hope, in tragedy.

The next day, I was looking through the records of a 2 year old boy on the ward. The teenage young woman caring for him was wearing the very same type of scarf that the girls in the play had worn. Which caught my attention, a symbol or pattern that may indicate God trying to communicate something. I thumbed back through his book and noted that he had been in our nutrition program as a motherless baby, and I had even noted how distraught his young "aunt" was when begging for help and claiming she could not breast feed him because she had her own baby at home. Without saying anything, I just started talking to the caretaker. She made no attempt to hide the fact that she was his real, biological mother. So this girl had totally lied to us two years ago, passing off her own child as her nephew (with a letter from her LC1 to prove it). Something about the scarf though reminded me: if I don't want others to blame the victim, then I shouldn't either. So we talked some more. Two years ago she had been a primary grade 6 student at Bundimulinga, our local school. The father of the baby never married her, he is a trader of some sort in Nyahuka (if we can believe her now . . . ). She dropped out of school, but still lives with her parents. Her child looks great, but here she is, unmarried, raising a child, never finished primary school. Yes, she made poor choices and later she lied to get the help she thought she needed. But she's a victim, too, of some man's desire, of poor parental supervision, of irresponsible adults, of an interrupted childhood, of grasping for a life she though would be good but turned out to be a lie.

In the garden God calls Adam, Eve, and Satan all to account. There are consequences, banishment, struggle, sorrow. But ultimately only Satan will be crushed, and the cost will be borne on the wounded heel of the awaited One, so that Eve can re-enter Paradise. What wounds are we called to bear to pull the teenage girls of Bundibugyo back to life?

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