Thursday, June 7, 2007

Alice - one month later

On Sunday, I returned from a month away and had been back just over 24 hours when I was coming home from visiting friends and found that Alice was on her way to see me. She looked sadder than usual with her eyes large and heavy, and I soon learned why: her 3 month old, Kansime Edina, had died 2 weeks before. Though Edina was her 5th child, she was the 3rd child Alice has buried. What grief she must feel. She fought back tears as we talked through our translator, Pauline, who is an extension worker on the Matiti project. To make matters more complicated, as her baby's health had deteriorated, she had borrowed 70,000 Ugandan shillings (about $38) to pay for Edina's medicines and then ultimately used what was remaining for her funeral. Funerals are a big community event here. Since Alice personally didn't have this money, she used her goat as collateral and now she needed to re-pay the goatkeeper in order to get her goat back. I offered to cover the cost of getting her goat back, but until she is in a less "urban" situation, the goat, which was a gift from World Harvest's Mattiti project, will be returned and kept at the goat farm on the mission. Alice was less than pleased about this, but right now its really the only (and best) solution. She has nowhere to keep the goat and trying to care for it in the middle of overcrowded Nyahuka Trading Center, she risks losing it to sickness, death, or even theft. Then, though the baby has been buried, at the end of this month are the final funeral rites. This is another community-wide event where family and friends gather to pay their final respects, and involves feeding those who come. Understandly Alice wants to give her baby girl an honorable send-off from this world, but how brutal this seems. Not only is she grieving the loss of her third child, but she is struggling to find the money to bury her with dignity. I will assist her in doing so ( by providing a gift in the way of cash), but was reminded by Donato, my Ugandan colleague, that there are others in our Kwejuna Project just as needy as she is. Oh, for the wisdom to know how to best help these needy and vulnerable ones....

No comments: