Sunday, August 19, 2012

"Mama?" Part II

So, I was all set to leave Kadi in her village. My mom, sister and I went up to see the hospital when they were here and stopped to see Kadi in her village and drop off the first installment of plumpy nut. I weighed her and she weighed 10kg’s which is 22 pounds. My niece weighs 22 pounds and is 13 months. Kadi is 4. The chronic malnutrition has left her about the height of a 2 year old.  I met Kadi’s dad and talked with both of her parents about my plan to bring them the plumpy nut frequently.  Since I was only staying in the hospital for a couple days I gave her a couple days worth, stopped back again on the way down to give her some more and she agreed to go to the hospital in a couple days to pick up the balance that I’d left with a friend of mine there.  The Alpha ward has an outpatient program and since Kadi had been admitted before she was used to going to get the supplement. 

I was back down in Freetown with my mom and sister, having a grand ole’ time, but was still often thinking about Kadiatu.  I called on the day her mom was supposed to have picked up the supplement to see how she was, but her mom hadn’t come. I called back a few days later, she still hadn’t come.  A week after she was supposed to come I was headed back up to the hospital so stopped to see her.  When I saw Kadi I couldn’t believe how much better she looked!  There was a life in her eyes that I hadn’t seen before and although I didn’t get a smile, I got a slight upturn of the mouth…something totally new!  After just having a week of the plumpy nut she was already doing a lot better. I was a little bummed that her mom hadn’t gone to pick up the balance because it meant that she had had it for a week and then hadn’t had it for a week.  When I talked to my Freetown plumpy nut friend, she said that if they have it for a day, don’t have it for a day, etc. it really slows down their progress. But, I was going to be in the area for the next two months so I’d just make sure she got it every day. 

At the beginning, every time I went to the village it was quite the spectacle.  All the kids (and a lot of adults) would gather around and just watch us.  Literally, just sit and stare at us.  Awkward.  I would generally feed Kadi one of the packets of plumpy nut just to see how she was eating them.  I have a little children’s Bible so would sometimes read a story from there, blow bubbles with them, etc.  One of the first times I went there I noticed that Kadi’s little brother didn’t look too well. I asked about him and they said he was sick.  Of course my initial thought was, well, I need to take him to the hospital.  But I was afraid.  I know what a floodgate that could open. So I just made the suggestion that they take him to the hospital because it would be less money in the long run if they took him earlier than if they took him later.  Nice try. 

This was a Friday. I was working double shifts on Saturday and Sunday so I wouldn’t be able to go to the village until Monday.  It was a long weekend. I kept thinking about that kiddo and was a little afraid of what I’d find when I went on Monday.  See, whenever I have kids who come to the hospital and are super sick, when I ask the parents how long the kid had been sick, the answer is almost always 3 days.  I know that this isn’t really true. The kid has to have been sick for longer than 3 days, but I wasn’t sure HOW much longer. I knew Kadi’s brother was sick for at least a week, probably longer.  Was he going to show up at the hospital in critical condition like so many others I’d seen?  By Sunday evening I decided that if I went Monday and he was still sick, I’d take him to the hospital. 

When I got to the village on Monday, I immediately asked about Kadi’s little brother.  He was still sick, but he didn’t look like the critical kids that come rushing in with their parents.   However, when I looked at his conjunctiva it was pretty pale (meaning he was anemic).  I knew if he didn’t get help soon, he would be one of those super sick kids.  I asked the parents if they wanted to go with me and take him to the hospital and they said yes. I did tell them to bring some money to buy the medicines.  So myself, Kadi, Kadi’s mom and two younger brothers all headed off to the hospital.  We tried to put Kadi and her younger brother in the back seat but they both started freaking out, it being their first time in a car, so we brought her brother up to sit with her mom and Kadi sat on my lap. Once she was there, she seemed to enjoy the ride. 

It was getting to be late and I knew the outpatient clinic was going to close soon (even though technically they were supposed to stay open for another hour). We got there and did labs on the kiddo and his hemoglobin was 7.  We don’t usually transfuse these kids but we admit them to recheck the hemoglobin in the morning.  Kadi’s mom hadn’t come prepared to stay so we agreed that I would go collect them early in the morning and bring them back to get his labs rechecked.  They also told her that he qualified to be admitted to the Alpha program for malnutrition if she was willing to do that.

This was the time that I really started considering bringing Kadi to come live with me.  I’d been holding her a lot during the day and she was feverish again.  She also had a nasty cough.  I was afraid that with Kadi’s mom now having another sick kid, Kadi would be neglected again.  I started thinking and praying about it again. That night I don’t think I slept for even an hour.  The next day I went early to pick them up and bring them back to the hospital before work.  They were going to do what they needed to at the hospital and then wait for me to take them home in the afternoon.

That day I spent a lot of time with them as the OB ward was pretty slow.  I gave Kadi a packet of plumpy nut in the morning when her mom was busy with her little brother and it took her about an hour to eat it.  Later I gave her another one when her family was around and it was gone in 15 minutes.  When she took another one later in the afternoon I physically saw it being shared with the auntie, the brother, and some other kids.  I knew for sure then, that she wasn’t getting as much as she was supposed to get in the village.  That sealed it for me.  She was sick again with that fever and although I thought she looked better, I was afraid that one more big sickness that wasn’t noticed very well because of other sick kids, farming that needed to be done and the other many responsibilities a mom with 3 kids age 4 and under had, she wouldn’t make it through this one.  By noon, I had decided to make the offer.  I felt a little sick.

I wasn’t really afraid that the husband would say no. At one point when I was visiting the village he told me that I should take Kadi and go.  It was her mom that I was worried about. I did NOT want her to think I was trying to take her child from her. It was important to me that I talk to her before I talked with her husband.  I know the culture here, and knew that if I went to talk with she and her husband at the same time, whatever the husband wanted would happen. I wanted her to have a say in the matter so I didn’t even want to approach her husband if it wasn’t something she wanted to do. 

I went to my friend “Joseph” and told him what I was thinking. I asked what he thought and if he could help me talk to her. Even though she and I communicate in Krio pretty well and she actually helps me “translate” from my krio to krio that people understand…I wanted this to be VERY clear.  No room for error. 

When I talked to Joseph, I explained exactly what I wanted to do. I would offer to take Kadi for two months, get her nice and healthy and then give her back to her parents.  We could come visit a couple times a week if they wanted.  Ok. Time to go talk to her.

When we called her to come talk, she looked nervous, like a kid who’s in trouble.  While Joseph was talking to her, she wouldn’t look at me.  She just kept nodding her head.  Joseph did a great job of explaining everything.  At the end, he asked her what she thought and she said she wanted to do it.  At this point I jumped in and asked if she was sure, telling her that I really didn’t want her to think I was trying to take Kadi from her.  She started getting a little teary eyed at this point and said that no, she was happy.  I took her at her word.  We decided that the next day Joseph and I would go to the village and talk to her husband. I was going to draw up a contract that I, Joseph, both Kadi’s parents and one other witness would sign.  The details would include the time (2 months) and the fact that they were voluntarily agreeing to come have Kadi stay with me for the agreed upon time and that no money was exchanging hands. (Call me paranoid, but I really really did not want to be called a kidnapper! J)  Joseph also made it clear that I was agreeing to take care of Kadi, but was not going to be able to start supporting the whole family financially (another one of my fears).

That night was another pretty sleepless night as I just kept going over things in my mind.  I had prayed so much that if it wasn’t something God wanted me to do, he would just close the doors. I prayed that if it wasn’t what he wanted that her mom would say no. Now I was praying the same thing for the conversation tomorrow with her father. 

I wanted God to just shout from the heavens that he wanted me to do this.  But I wasn’t getting that.  It wasn’t even like I had a clear inner voice telling me, “Emily. Do this.  I want you to do this.”  But I couldn’t get her off my mind. I thought about her constantly.  Oftentimes I get frustrated when I don’t feel like  I want to do what God wants me to do, but I’m not sure what that is.  So many times I’ve been grumbling to Him saying, “Just tell me already! What do you want me to do?!?!”  Then more often than not I hear the Voice say, “I already did. I gave you a whole Bible.”  This was one of those instances.  I wanted so clearly to have confirmation that I should do this, but wasn’t having that bolt of lightening.  When I turned my thoughts to the Bible, the words at the end of James came to mind.  “True religion is this.  To look after the widows and orphans in their distress, and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”  Kadi wasn’t an orphan.  She has two parents.  But for whatever reason, she just wasn’t getting the care that she needed.  Does that count?  Maybe?  I kept mulling over this verse and just begging God to close the doors if it wasn’t what he wanted.  And I tried to prepare myself for the conversation tomorrow.

The next day I was ready.  I was a little nervous, but I was also excited and felt peace that God would do what he wanted.  I was done with work at 3:30pm and Joseph and I were going to head to the village then.  At about 2:30 a patient came in that was going to need surgery.  Joseph was going to scrub in, but they had to wait for the surgeon who was far away.  I was frustrated because I’d been waiting for this all day and now because the surgeon (who was on call by the way) was far away, I knew there was no way they would be done by 3:30. Maybe 5:30 at the earliest.  Since we weren’t going to the village yet, when I finished work I went downtown to get a couple things I thought Kadi might need.  As I was walking, I was praying the whole time that if this was God shutting the doors, he would make it clear.  I wanted what He wanted.  My friend called me from the hospital while I was downtown and needed me to bring something to her.  Instead of going straight back to my house I stopped by the hospital.  I was literally muttering under my breath, “Lord, close the door. Close the door if this isn’t what you want” when I ran into Kadi’s father.  His wife had obviously told him what we’d suggested and he had walked the 4 miles (in the rain) to come meet with me.  Lord?

I called Joseph (who wasn’t in surgery yet because the surgeon was so far away…thank you Lord!) and he came to talk with us.  He went over everything that he’d gone over with Kadi’s mom the day before and the husband was very excited.  He kept smiling and saying “thank you, thank you.”  After we finished, I pulled out the contract I’d drafted and Joseph, Kadi’s father and I signed it.  Then we left Joseph to his surgery and I went with Kadi’s father to the village to collect her.  

When we got to the village, Kadi’s mom had obviously been preparing for our arrival, as Kadi was decked out in her best outfit.  We explained to Kadi’s mom that we’d talked with Joseph and agreed upon the parameters of the contract and needed her to sign.  She went to call someone representing her family to sign as well. As we waited for them to come, I sat with Kadi.  We waited. And waited.  And waited.  I checked a couple times to see if someone was coming and to make sure there wasn’t a miscommunication and they didn’t understand what I was wanting.  No, they knew. We were just waiting on the uncles to come.  Ok.  I blew bubbles with the kids that were just standing there. Staring. J

After 45 min. or so, three men showed up to represent Kadi’s mother.  We went through the details of the contract and one of the uncles signed.  They were all saying “thank you, thank you” and while I nodded my head saying Ok, I began to get sick to my stomach at the thought of what was coming.  Taking her.  I was dreading it.  I was dreading the screaming and crying that would happen as I took her away from her mom and the only life she’d ever known in the village.  Lord help me. 

To be continued…..

1 comment:

  1. Some how I think she went willingly and that is a hard way to leave the story!