A Child of Joy, A Child of Sorrow

I traveled this afternoon to a church about 30 minutes away. On the way, we stopped to see Pastor William and his just-born daughter. His wife had to have a C-section. I can’t imagine how that works at “Matata Hospital.” I don’t really understand the name, since Matata is Swahili for “Troubles.”  It’s a typical small town East African hospital—cramped, dirty, and somewhat chaotic. They did have a separate maternity ward, but it was open to the general public. Signs were posted to remind people to keep the windows open to reduce tuberculosis.

We found William, who took us to see baby “Betty,” named for Betty Musindai (I told you she was incredible!). The baby, still covered with a white waxy substance, was asleep in a bassinet that seemed more like a car-seat, with a ceramic heater nearby to keep her warm. I tried to stay outside the room where William’s wife was in bed, but he insisted that I meet her. I stepped in long enough to wish her every blessing, but the poor woman had undergone a C-section 3 hours earlier! As I stood outside with baby Betty, she began to cry. I used my best soothing voice and held her little hand, and she stopped crying. That felt wonderful. Even in Africa, I get to be Papa!

Then it was on to the church where I preached. I don’t want to bother with details about that, I want to tell of what happened after. I had seen a young woman there with a newborn infant. I said hello to her and blessed her baby. Later she came outside and spoke to Betty, who had met her recently at a Woman’s Conference. Her story shocked me so deeply I’m not sure how to tell it.

The 1-month old turns out to be Zipporah’s 5th child. Her husband died more than a year ago. It goes unsaid that it was likely AIDS, and that she’s likely HIV-positive. This baby is the product of rape from her husband’s brother, who was following tribal traditions that since his brother is dead, he must sleep with this woman. The man is now in prison for life, not because he raped Zipporah, but because he also raped her 14-year-old daughter. He may have gotten away with that except that the minor also became pregnant. The baby is due in a month or so. The daughter has been moved to a secret place because the family of the rapist wants to kill her, blaming her for his imprisonment.  Zipporah lives in fear of reprisal, for herself and for the 12-year-old daughter who is now most vulnerable.

This woman came seeking help because she is sleeping with her 4 children in a mud structure of about 40 sq. ft. No beds, no blankets, nothing but a dirt floor and mud walls. There are lots of poor people here, of course. Many rent out small, one bedroom, concrete structures that are more like our storage warehouses. I asked how much those cost. About $20/mo. But she doesn’t have $1, let alone $20.

My day, which began with such joy for baby Betty, ended with me doing everything I can do to hold it together, not to break down and weep for Zipporah and her children. But my sympathy is nothing. She doesn’t need pity, she needs help. Tomorrow, when I can breathe again after this gut-punch, I’m going to figure out what that looks like. Maybe you will think through that with me tonight.

gkr1996 posted at 2017-10-16 Category: Kenya 2017