Sweet little Beatrice came to Light in Africa in 2008. Her mother had been thrown out by her husband’s family for giving birth to a disabled child. When Mama Lynn saw Beatrice on her mother’s back, she knew that she was being starved. Although she was four years old, she was the size of a one-year old. Kathy, Carol, and I visited Light in Africa just a few days after Beatrice had arrived. She was so tiny and fragile—she took my breath away. Mama Lynn said that she would not survive the week.
I have visited Beatrice every year and watched her grow and thrive under the loving care of Mama Lynn. One year I panicked when I did not see her in the disabled room—she was always lying on her bouncy seat. I had walked right by her as she was sitting up by herself! In 2013 she was sitting on her mother’s lap; her mother had come to visit for the first time in five years. Two weeks ago I was able to spend two days at Light in Africa. Karen and I spent much of our time at Tumaini House talking and playing with the children. As severely disabled as many were, they still reacted with smiles and laughter to our touch and songs.
Last Sunday our pastor came up to me after church and asked if everything was all right. He said that he had felt a need to pray for me. No, I said—everything is fine. Little did I know. When I got home from church, the following email awaited me from Mama Lynn.
“Oh, Joan. On Saturday Beatrice was taken to the hospital with a fever of 40+ (104) and was given medication and sent home. At four o’clock this morning the staff of Tumaini were knocking on my door. Beatrice is sick…she died one hour later in the hospital. Happy sweet Beatrice, who was the Queen of Tumaini House had lived with us for eight years. May her soul rest in glory…..”