Our work in Kimini is all about children and their needs. Some days my heart is filled with sorrow. I question with my Western mentality how needless tragedies are allowed to happen. What sign did we miss? How could we have intervened? What prevention should have been in place?
Nine-year-old Fanta had died while we were away from the village. Fanta was one of three handicapped children in the same family. She and her two brothers, Seydou 15, and Issa 7 were all enrolled in school but only Seydou has a wheelchair to help get him to school. Fanta and Issa were not able to go home during lunchtime. Classmates carried her outside to sit in the shade under a tree that had a beehive in its branches.
Being children, they began to throw stones at the hive causing it to fall to the ground. When the angry bees swarmed, the children ran away. Helpless, Fanta could not escape their wrath and was repeatedly stung. When help arrived, Fanta was covered with bee stings. She was taken to the hospital but did not survive.
Life here is harsh by any standards. When you are poor and handicapped the odds are really stacked against you. We ask ourselves why this had to happen but there are no quick solutions to problems when you live in the fifth poorest country in the world.
Other days we rejoice when God uses us to intervene on behalf a child. This was the case recently when we became acquainted with Malima and her infant daughter. They had come to our house one afternoon when the news spread that we had baby clothes to share. At first glance, it was clear that this baby was very thin. After a few moments we learned that the child was 15 months old and was not receiving the nutrition she needed to grow. Something needed to be done before Nadjata became a sad statistic.
In nearby Bobo there is a special facility for children who “fail to thrive”. We had made the required phone calls and were told they would accept Nadjata and her mother. It is required that the mothers stay on site with their babies so they can be taught how to prepare highly nutritious meals and monitor the weight of the babies. The objective is to equip the mother with skills that will carry over when she returns to the village.
Now all that was needed was consent from the family.
Burkinabe are very family-centered, relational people. So it was no surprise that not only was the permission of the husband needed but also approval was sought from the extended family. So with that in place, Malima, with Nadjata in her arms, climbed into the backseat of our limo. (Most likely her first ride in a car).
Upon arrival, health records were reviewed, measurements taken and weight obtained. Nadjata, a fifteen- month old, tipped the scale at a mere 5.5 kilos, about 12 pounds.
Now three and a half weeks later, weighing 6.5 kilos, about 14 pounds, Malima and Nadjata were given the green light to return to Kimini. The weak, listless baby girl we transported to Bobo now giggled in the back seat as we made our way back to the village. This was truly music to our ears!
A careful follow-up plan is in place to monitor the progress of Nadjata’s growth. Each Monday she will be weighed and a week’s supply of specially fortified food will be given to Malima to prepare for the coming week. We pray that the progress that has been made will continue and Nadjata will begin to stand, walk and thrive.
We start each day anew looking to God for guidance and strength to face each challenge with renewed hope.