I whispered to Allan, who was making a cup of tea in the kitchen, to quietly come and stand at the door with me. Gideon was laid on his back on the rug talking and gurgling in baby talk to a small piece of paper about 4inches square waving it about in the air and pulling it from side to side andthen waving it about in one hand. We stood and watched in sheer delight at these antics of Gideon with this small piece of paper and it made our hearts swell with happiness and sheer delight to see him starting to reach his milestones.
Two months earlier, LIA was operating a medical out-reach dispensary at the mining town when a mother thrust a child into my arms. The child looked to be about three months of age. When we asked her what the problem was with the child she responded that she had been taking the child to see the witchdoctor on a weekly basis to make him ‘normal’. I looked at the child and could see he appea red to have the condition known a mes Down Syndrome. “What did the witchdoctor do to the child” I asked. “I was paying him 25,000/= ($12) a week and when there was no improvement to his condition he after said he had to circumcise him so now I have brought him to see if the doctor can do anything if not then I shall dispose of him. I asked the women to sit down and wait and went over to a member of staff to ask them to call for the leaders of the village where the child lived to come and speak with the mother.
The Chairman after listening to the mother’s story came over and asked me to take the child into care, and he quickly filled in all the necessary forms for admission into care. I took the child back into my arms and the mother asked me to remove all the clothes from the child and give them to her. Righteous anger pulsed through me as I scathingly told the women she was giving her child away and she did not even want the child to have clothes on his back, what sort of mother could do a thing like that? She and her mother just walked away from her child.
The following day Gideon was taken to the doctors for a medical report to be issued. From his card we found that he was not a three month old but a ten month old child. He weighed in at 4 kilos at birth and now weighed ten months later 5 kilos. He was severely malnourished, had rickets and pneumonia.
In two month’s Gideon pneumonia twice, spent time in hospital having 29 injections and on his release he came to live with me. From a child who just laid in his cot not moving totoloving and encouraging him to move forward towe were blessed to witness his first ‘crooked’ smile and sit in his baby chair and make a terribly mess as he tried to negotiate his spoon, to learning to sit up to now watching him gurgling to a piece of paper in his hand. What joy this child brought into our lives.
I went to prepare his bath, then picked him up off the mat, sat in a chair and started to undress him, When I removed his nappy I found it was stained with blood. I quickly re-dressed him, called for a driver to rush us to a dispensary, and in the car Gideon was viol ently sick. On arrival the doctor said he should be admitted and they started to arrange for an IVto be placed in his veins. I took another look in his clean nappy and there was a large red stain. I’m sorry I said to the doctor but I have to rush him to casualty he’s bleeding too much. He has lost vital fluids and needs to have them replaced.
I rushed into the oh so familiar casualty department and was greeted by one of the casualty nurses who recognized me and asked me what the problem was which I related the sequence of events. She asked me to sit down whilst she found a doctor. One hour later Gideon was having a ultra sound where the technician found somethitng unusual. We were taken to men’s surgical and a doctor told me he would have to have an operation. Eleven hours later, after only receiving a glucose IV he was taken to theater. Twelve inches of intestine was removed and then attached to a bowel.
On his return from theatre we were taken to ‘intensive care’ but what possible chance of survival could this precious child possibly have. He never regained consciousness and quietly slipped away.
His mother was contacted for the funeral arrangements. With not a word of thanks or an offer to pay the hospital expenses, ‘muffin man’ our pet name for Gideon was taken back to the mines where the tribe that he belonged to have the body the day before burial as a mark of respect.
Gideon was the fourth to die in four weeks, two grandfathers, George, one of our disabled children and then Gideon. An unprecedented time that Light in Africa had never experienced before, but through all of this trauma…….. In God We place our Trust.