Hi dear friends,
My previous blog mentions about a teenage girl who was brought into our care by the local police. For this blog I will call her Mary. Each day I go visit with Mary to try to gain some trust with her, but every day when anyone approaches her she is like a ‘wild animal’ who is ready to attack anyone who comes near her. We have been touched that one of our nine year olds has asked to sleep in the same bedroom with Mary and appears to have an uncanny approach to her that she accepts. She sits close into a corner and covers her face with her arm and a plate of food is placed in front of her and she will turn her back to everyone else in the room in an attempt to not allow anyone to see that she has food, such is the desperate state of this girl.
At Easter time I had an idea. I had a patchwork bag that I had travelled with for years and on an impulse I decided to try to give Mary the bag. I made my entrance felt like I did each day by greeting all the children in the home, and then a special ‘good morning’ for Mary. I hesitantly approached her in the corner and sensing my closeness she started to bang her head on the wall, I sat down on the floor and offered the bag to Mary. She stopped the banging and looked at the bag, gave me this huge smile which just choked me up and slowly moved closer to me. I placed the handles of the bag over her head opened my arms and she came into them whilst I patted her back and told her what a lovely girl she was, she raised her arm and started to stroke my hair, this was the first time that Mary had reached out for any human contact. She kept repeating that ‘they were going to beat her’ ‘they were going to beat her’ and I repeatedly assured her that no-one was ever going to beat her again, she was safe now, and would always have food to eat and clean clothes to wear. This gesture of touch was the very best Easter present that I could have wished for. The door of isolation had just been cracked open just a little, but a small sliver of light had penetrated her darkness.
On behalf of our children and staff we want to give a special tribute to our dear friend Jessica T who is getting married this month. Jessica has for a long time been such a blessing to our children and we just had to show her our appreciation and love on this her special wedding day.
Light in Africa has experienced many changes this month especially with the closure of one of our boy’s homes at the mining town and shifting the whole caboodle to our food kitchen facility. Our social worker and staff all helped in the move and now the boys are settling into their new environment. Although we have in our possession twenty acres of land to build our own children’s homes in this area, unfortunately funds have not materialized to allow us to do so and once again we have to settle for rented accommodation in this impoverished area.
Each year we have the pleasure of hosting 3rd year local medical students from K.C.M.C hospital and this year was no exception. Nine students arrived to learn about the medical conditions of our children and the procedures of admission of these children into our care and to also experience our community work in the rural areas. No experience would be complete unless I showed the medical students our homes at the mines with also a visit to Calvary Dispensary where we work with our dear doctor friends who care for the medical needs of our children and operate our out-reach medical dispensaries into the bush.
The day started with lots of chatter as we all piled into the Land rover with our cool box full of delicious food that Doudi our chef had prepared. As we turned off the main road to head for the mines, I noticed that the chatter became somewhat subdued as the students started to look around the vehicle for something to ‘hang on’ to as the vehicle lurched through pot holes and lakes of water on the road after some heavy rain had fallen and the water was pouring across the road from the side of the field. On the return journey, after more torrential rainfall, our driver was the only one who ‘dared’ to cross the fast-running current that was making a weir across the road, as he knew I had to get home with a ‘precious’ cargo who needed feeding.
After a short seminar by Dr. Richards and a tour of the facilities and of the patients, we then walked to Gideon House where the boys had just moved into a couple of days prior. As we ate our lunch a staff member came to tell me there were visitors from another agency who wanted to talk with me. After introductions the man who was accompanied by a lady and a baby asked if I would take the baby in to our care. I asked for details and was told LIA social worker had already been involved in the case assessment and they were asked to obtain certain documentation before the child’s admission. They now had these letters.
The story is that the young mother in her twenties already has five children and she is living on the streets with no permanent home, the agency was helping her sort her problems out but she didn’t want this baby, and there was issues of safety for the baby. The women has HIV+ and because she has been breastfeeding the baby she has passed the virus onto her child. I asked one thing of the mother before I was handed the baby and that was that she allowed me to pay for a contraceptive device to be fitted so she did not have any more babies. Sadly the women vehemently refused this offer of not giving birth to more unwanted babies.
The group, along with the baby in arms then moved off to visit our girl’s home. And once again I was told the doctor was sending to me an 8 year old vulnerable child whose mother had a mental issue and the aunt wouldn’t touch her because she had a skin disfigurement. The medical students tried to allay the aunt’s fears by explaining that she could not catch the skin problem and although demonstrations of ‘touching’ were given, the aunt still did not want to care for this vulnerable child. Anothercase of stigmatization. Our girls welcomed the child to join them for their evening meal and she just walked off holding on to a girl’s hand.
In both these cases of the mother giving her baby away and the eight year old walking away from her aunt there was no emotion whatsoever expressed, and this always impacts me whenever I see it.
LIA HAS RAISED TWENTY SIX CHILDREN WHO HAVE GROWN INTO ADULTHOOD AND ARE NOW LIVING INDEPENDENT LIVES, BUT ONE CAME BACK TO SERVE THE MISSION.
Late one night, when I was living on the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, there was a knock on our security gates, and when the gates were opened there stood an eight year old child, hungry and desolate. I welcomed the child in, and before any questions were asked I made him a cup of tea and a jam sandwich. The story unfolded that the child and his mother had been badly beaten by their alcoholic father and he had lived under the coffee tree’s for the last five days. After investigation the child came to live in our care. Primary and Secondary school followed then preparation to move to live at a college in Dar es Salaam to study Business Management. Two years later holding his diploma he has made the choice to return to LIA and ‘give back’ to our other children in care, now as a valued staff member with years of in-depth knowledge of how Light in Africa operates.
On our return journey from the mines I watched this twenty four year old young man holding this small malnourished baby in his arms as he toyed with the fingers of the child’s hand in a gesture of re-assurance, I felt a deep sense of pride that I had been so blessed to be able to witness the fruits of my work in this young man’s life, whose life on the streets would certainly have been very different if he hadn’t had the courage to knock on the gate and ask for help.
Thank you dear friends for emailing me your concerns and question and for your prayers for Mary. We have a church in the USA who is specifically lifting-up prayers to heaven on her behalf for a wonderful recovery. Thank you.
And the starved puppy who we have no idea how he appeared on my doorstep. He is doing just fine and meat now covers his bones and he now had energy to run with my other dogs. I had not noticed when I first wrote the blog that some cruel person had slit both his ears and placed a cow tag in just one of them.
ABUNDANT BLESSING – ALWAYS. MAMA LYNN