This is Giliane in Jan of 2006. She was 17 months old and weighed 11 pounds. Her mother died a few months after she was born during a raining season when there was flooding. She is the only child for the mother and the father. Due to a severe illness (TB) and a fractured leg she stayed in the RC until Nov 2008. At that time she weighed 25 pounds.
Here she is a few months before she returned home last year. Her dad did not come often to visit her. Maybe once every six months or so. Several times, when he came, he told me that he wanted me to take her. He wanted to put her up for adoption. He did not want to, and could not take care of her. I spent lots of time talking to him. This is his only child. His first and maybe only child. We decided that adoption was not the best option for her. She needed to stay with her papa. They needed each other. Right? They needed to grow together, bond together and have their life together. He agreed and was happy to take her home last November.
Fast forward to this week. I saw the father in the yard. I was happy to see him and asked how Giliane was doing. He said “she is here” I said “Oh I would love to see her” He said “there she is over there laying on the towel” I looked over to see a child laying on a towel that was laying on the gravel in the clinic yard. All the blood drained from my face. No, that could not be her. I went over to her, she was swollen from head to toe. Very bad kwashiorkor. Very bad. Her legs were split open in a few places. I looked at her face. NO that could not be her? It must not be her. But it was. I called a few of the nannies. We were all shocked. How could this happen in just a short time like this? I ask the dad how he said” you know when you give someone money to take care of your child, they take the money and buy food, when you are in front of them they feed your child and bathe them and make their hair nice. But when you are gone, the scent of the food travels to their nose. When the scent gets in their nose they eat all the food and forget that you gave them money to buy food for her”. Translation: I gave her to my sister to raise and she did a bad job and ate all the food. She is swollen with fluids and has lost weights since November.
Since she arrived this past week she has got worse. She will not eat anything and only drinks a little. She screams and cries, she is in pain. This afternoon we tried to get her to eat some of the medika mamba. I tried and tried and she spit it all over me and refused to take any of it. Why? The nannies and I were talking about her. Some think she will not make it, some think she has a chance. When a child is admitted they have to fill out a paper. They asked him how long she has been swollen with kwashiorkor. He said a long time. They asked him why he did not bring her sooner. He said her sickness was a curse. So he was going to the vo–do– doctor to get the curse removed. When he spend all his money there he decided he would bring her back to us.
As she lays tonight on her bed. I wonder about many things and I get depressed. I think— All the time, food and resources spend for almost 3 years. Adoption. Suffering. Not fair. The dumb devil. What a bad and painful thing kwashiorkor is. Maybe I should send her to another hospital? General Hospital – saw them on TV last night, they have been on strike for several weeks, why? the workers have not been paid for 9 months. Trash all up and down the hallways and all in front of the hospital. A good pediatric hospital? The good one I know does not take kids from orphanges or from missionaries? Why? The hospital is a charity hospital–we (missionaries) should have money to go to a private doctor. Go to a private doctor? He will tell me she needs food and meds will not help. What would you do? AHH and the question of what do I do to to ensure that the kids do not get malnourised again when they return home. I give them education, a little food, and an apointment to return every two weeks for several months. IF they return and they are not doing well we come up with a plan. We cannot do everything. It is not right to do everything, at some point the parents have to make the choice that they want thier child to live. Right? So tonight I feel like a failure. A BIG failure. Pack up and leave? Tomorrow is a new day? Yes, tomorrow is a new day. I am a lifer here. So I guess I cannot leave. So I will hold her and love her. No matter, what if she lives or dies. I will pray for her. I will pray for her suffering to stop. Either way to stop here or up there.