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Monday, November 16, 2009

Miscellaneous Musings

The picture above is a preview of tomorrow's post. 
  • I had all sorts of profound things to post today but the internet was down this morning and then I needed to help Tom with a project he's doing for his reserve police work. Have I told you all about that yet? If not, I'll write about it soon. He was kinda waiting for his uniform hat to arrive before I posted photos. We'll see if he's changed his mind now since TIA (This Is Africa) and the hat may never arrive.
  • We performed an operation on that female monkey yesterday. If she recovers well I'll tell the whole story. If she doesn't, well, we'll just pretend it never happened. Ahem.
  • Just a couple hours ago we received news via a letter from the local Social Welfare office that a baby was abandoned by its mother and needs a home. I'm waiting for the baby's family to arrive as I write this. Stay tuned.
  • This week we are terribly understaffed as two of our nannies are tending to their sick children, one nanny is sick with malaria (yes, it's that season again!) and another just quit without notice and has gone into hiding because she owes so much money to people in the village--drama, drama, drama.
  • Tom is working on building a new snake cage since one of the snakes figured out how to escape and was sitting calmly to one side when Tom gave a tour. He was talking about all the snakes when one of the visitors said, "Well, what about that one?" and pointed to the worktable next to the cage. Tom's heart fell through his stomach and down to his toes. In case you're wondering, all his snakes are poisonous. I just pray and pray for safety. Add your prayers to mine, would you please?
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Update on abandoned baby:
So, the family of the child came back. It was an old woman who I assumed was the grandmother and a teenager holding an adorable 10 month old baby. I dropped to my knees and chatted with the quietly babbling baby and she smiled back at me, not at all fearful of the strange muzungu lady.
I then sat at my makeshift desk to begin going over the paperwork. This is when it all got interesting. In addition to the Social Welfare letter I now also held a letter from the village section headman—headmen rule over small sections of the village to help the senior Chief with governing. Anyway, the letter from the headman stated that the mother of the baby was just too young to look after the child and needed to go to school. Now I was really confused. I had a letter stating that the mother of the baby had disappeared three months before and there was a police report stating this fact and another letter saying that the teenage girl standing in front of me was actually the mother. I also had the baby’s clinic card with medical history. All three documents had the same woman listed as mother. I asked the young woman her name and it matched the documents. I was so confused!
Finally after asking lots of questions and not getting much information--the girl told me her age was 15 years but then guessed that her year of birth was 1992--she couldn't give me a birth date. Typing this now I wonder if she was a Jehovah's Witness (they don't celebrate birthdays) but surely she would have needed to give her date of birth at school or for legal documents.
When I asked what they had been feeding the child the grandmother said that the bab's mother had never had breastmilk so they had fed her sugar water and occasionally rice or cassava. Since the baby was fairly healthy looking I wasn't sure this was the truth so I questioned them more closely and was invited to take a look and see if I could get any milk out. Ewww! No thanks!
Finally, I called it quits and sent the translator to track down the Social Welfare Officer to find out why the documents were in conflict. Tom arrived home around this time so he went down to the Police Department with the two women to sort out the truth once and for all. At the police station the grandmother finally confessed--she had been under the impression that if we took her grandchild then she would get a monthly financial allowance. How she reached that conclusion I'll never know. She and her granddaughter were sent home with a stern warning that falsifying documents and lying to government officials carried a sentence of jail time.
I felt really bad that we couldn't help this family but truly if we took in every child born to a young, unwed mother our rooms would be full to overflowing. This is the sad truth. It's a shame that this young lady most likely won't finish her education--she'd only reached 6th grade--and a shame that no father was stepping forward to help her. She had no idea where the father was and only that he may have been 24 years old at the time. One of our most difficult tasks is sometimes having to turn away those who ask for our help.




4 comments:

  1. What an interesting life you lead! The part about the snake, though, made me shudder. And it sounds like Tom needs to be a detective, not just a policeman.

    It's hard to be sure from the picture, but are they breadfruit? If so, they make good tostones (usually made in P.R. from plantains)! I don't think they grow in clusters like that though. Maybe they're coconuts?

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  2. What an amazing story about the young girl and her baby! I was hanging on to every word.

    I need to go find a post about what brought you to Africa etc...need to get caught up

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  3. Amy, I am going back through the post now and I have to say AMEN to you girl. No clue on what to make with the mangos but right there with you on the EWW NO i wouldn't want to see the breast milk either.

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  4. Wow, that snake story is pretty scary. I'll be praying. Tell Dad he's not allowed to get old and lose his touch. Lol. I believe the story about the grandma wanting money. Oh well. It happens.(lol about the breast milk)

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