Date: Sat, 27 Feb 2010 13:16:57 -0800
Subject: [Be ” THE HANDS AND FEET”] 2/27/2010 03:26:00 AM
In a mud hut a small girl, Mary sits with her 4 brothers and sisters. Alone, cold and hungry… The night before, their Mom had come home and went right to bed; she had been digging in the garden all day and was utterly exhausted. Mary could tell something was not right, not normal, she usually came home and fixed dinner before resting, but last night she went to bed without even a word. Mary tried to wake her, but she seemed to be sick, so she left her to sleep. She went out in search of food for her siblings, but there was nothing, and she had no money. That night they drank tea for dinner.
Later that night Mary bathed her little brothers and sisters, put them to bed on their mat, covered their Momma with the blanket hoping that she would be better in the morning, and washed the dishes outside. When she came back in, she closed the door-though it would not latch properly, and put herself to bed.
That was the last time she saw her Mom alive. Early in the morning some men came and took her body away. No one said a word. No one looked her in the eye. They were just there…alone; she had no idea what to do. How was she supposed to care for these children? She was their legal guardian. At the age of 12 she was now the mother to 4 children. Over the next few days they drank tea for meals, but the children began to cry-they were hungry.
All except for one… In the corner lay a little tiny girl-the youngest, Sarah. She had been sick for a while, but the closest health center was a 2 hour walk, and they had no money for medicine. She had been sick for a long time, Mary could no longer tell if she was getting worse, or just staying the same.
They became desperate, so Mary started going to ask the neighbors for food-some would give her something small, some wouldn’t. Most all of their neighbors were poor, so they had nothing to give even if they wanted to. She started going to their Moms garden in hopes of finding something there. Sometimes there would be something, but sometimes there was nothing. While she was gone all day searching for food her siblings would play outside in the sun-to them things were not all that different, and they still laughed and sang. But while all the big kids played outside Sarah lay in a dark room by herself. Mary would give her tea in the morning with the others, and one of her other sisters gave her more at midday. When Mary got home she would mash whatever she had found to eat and give it to Sarah for dinner, but there was no improvement. They ate mostly Cassava root, millet bread, and tea. As the days passed Mary became less and less successful in finding food for her hungry family, and Sarah was growing weaker every day. Mary found someone to let her use their phone and called some of her relatives that lived in another village. They came a few days later and picked all the children, all except for Sarah. They said she was too sick, and no one could care for her, so they left her behind.
Mary was scared. She didn’t want to lose another family member, but what was she to do? Every morning she would tie Sarah onto her back and go searching for something, anything; she didn’t even really know what she was looking for, but she had to try.
Silvia had seen Mary walking aimlessly with a baby strapped to her back, and when she got a closer look at the baby, she felt sad, she was so small and looked to be very sick. She had heard what happened from a fellow neighbor… Silvia could sympathize because her own child had been very sick, and become severely malnourished because of it. She wanted to help this baby, though she had nothing to give, she and her husband had sold everything to keep their own child alive, but she felt as though she had to do something. That’s when she remembered…she was taking her child to Jinja to be evaluated for a program that helped malnourished children. Maybe she could bring this baby too?
She was planning to leave in a couple days, so she called ahead to inform her contact that she was bringing another baby that was severely malnourished. She gathered Mary and Sarah and started the journey toward Jinja. Hoping, praying that something could be done for this little one before it was too late
Here in Masese it had been a crazy day, and when I got the call that our kid was here, I have to tell you I was not super duper thrilled. And when I heard that there were actually 2 when there was only supposed to be 1, I was a little skeptical. I was told that the girl was an orphan, but nothing else. I assumed that they were just looking for a place for her to live, and as we are not an orphanage, I knew I would not be able to help her. I figured I would just have to send her back home, or try to refer her to a baby’s home.
When I got to the hospital I saw a small girl holding a blanket that looked to have a baby inside, but it was so small to be a baby, I thought maybe it was just a blanket with nothing inside. I was in a hurry and didn’t think too much of it; you never know what you’re going to see here, and it would not be all that strange for a girl to carry around a blanket for seemingly no reason.
When I got inside and found Joy, the nutritionist who was doing the referral, we talked briefly and went outside where the kids where waiting for us. It turned out that that blanket was a baby, it was Sarah. Joy introduced me to Mary and Sarah and began to explain a little bit of her situation. As she talked I tried to get a look at Sarah, it was evident that she was very malnourished, but she was covered, and it was hard to see how bad she really was. After hearing a little bit about what had happened, I agreed to take them both back to my house and talk through what would need to be done for her to be admitted into the program.
We left the hospital with Sarah, Mary, and another Mom plus her baby. When we reached home, we all got out of the car, and went inside. As Mary carried her little sister up the front steps her eyes were huge-I’m sure she had a lot of different emotions going through her head… We talked for a long time using Charles to translate as neither of these ladies speak any English, and I got a better grasp on what had happened.
As you know our goal is to work with families; to teach the mom, not only rehabilitate the child, but Sarah has no mom. And she didn’t really have any place to go once she finished the program. I had to make a judgment call… I prayed that the Lord would lead me in the right decision. I wanted to take this little girl so badly, but I wasn’t sure that we could get permission to take her as she doesn’t have a mother, and we are under very strict orders from the government that the children are to be placed back in their homes with their families once discharged. But as of now Sarah has no family willing to take her.
I prayed. The Lord said “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” Was this the Lord’s way of coming to Sarah? I felt the Lord saying “Trust in the Lord. Trust in Me.” So I did. I finished her paperwork and fed Mary lunch and she left to go back home. You could see the relief in her eyes as she handed over her little sister…she had done it! She had found a way for her sister to live!
After Mary left I brought Sarah back to her room to put a diaper on her, change her clothes, weigh her, and finish a few things up. When I removed her dress I was shocked. I knew she was underweight, but I hadn’t guessed by that much.
Sarah is 13 months old and weighs 3 Kgs (that’s 6.6 pounds). She cannot sit, roll over, hold her head up well, or eat solid foods. She is a very sick little girl. Her first day and night here I thought it might have been to late, I was uncertain if she would make it. But by the Grace of God she is pulling through!!! She’s a fighter! She’s pulled her IV out 4 times. After running some tests the doctors (along with myself) were amazed that everything came back without any traces of serious infection/disease – God has surely protected this little child. After a few days, I have full confidence that the Lord is not ready to take her from this earth yet.
It’s not going to be a piece of cake to get Sarah healthy again. Oh no, it’s going to be harder than hard to get to the point where this baby has a tight hold on life again. She’s on a vigorous feeding schedule, eating every 15 minutes, and yes, that would be 24 hours a day. I am already super drained from just 3 nights, but I know the Lord will give me the strength to press on! He will fight this battle we’ve just entered; I am not strong enough, and because my God is ALWAYS victorious, I have no doubt what the outcome will be!
“Thus says the Lord to you. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde. For the battle is not yours but Gods. You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf.”
P.S As it is VERY late here and due to my tiredness, I will not be posting pictures at this time. My internet is to slow. Pictures to come…
~Renee for Serving His Children (Uganda)