Sunday, October 20, 2013

Avoidable But Too Common


The vehicle seemed content to rest from its arduous effort to navigate the horrendous road and village pathway.  Thirty minutes earlier it left the pavement for a rain rutted road which was often wide enough for only one vehicle.  It crossed a deep ditch on three wheels to leave the road and slowly snake its way between trees and bushes.

After being directed to the right place, Peter backed the van toward the entrance of the village house. This simple task was slower than the journey down the path to it.  Word had apparently arrived faster. Hundreds of people surrounded us.  Some were shouting.  Others were wailing.  Dust hung in the hot humid air, symbolic of the emotional climate.

Within seconds a fight broke out, scattering the villagers.  The level of noise increased as I moved toward the action and not away from it ...  hoping to find out how such a thing could happen in the context of what we had just experienced.

What a contrast.

For more than the past 30 minutes, next to nothing was said by the ten people in our van.  Several phone calls were made and received, but I understood little from the one sided conversations.  The interior of the van contained an unpleasant odor.  I couldn't determine if it was coming from some of the village people seated in the seats or the body which was wrapped in a sheet and lying on the floor beneath the seats.  The grief that filled the van was easy to detect, however.

The distraught voice on the phone was that of my good friend and African daughter in law.  Lyzette was needing our help. One of  her girls, just 16 years old, had passed away in the hospital.  The mother rain from the ward screaming and disappeared.  The father clung to the hands of his deceased daughter hoping, perhaps, to give life to her limp body.  Dazed with sorrow, he told Lyzette that he would transport the body back to the village on a boda boda. That is when she called me.  Within ten minutes we were loading the body, family members, and two bicycles in and on the van and our quiet journey began.

The solemn attosphere concluded in a graphically different environment.  Peter and I quickly decided that we needed to move the vehicle from the chaos to avoid damage to it as the fight broke out.  My assumption was correct.  The brothers of the deceased sister were attacking the young man who impregnated her. They wanted to get machetes and kill him.  There logic was simple. She would have never died had he not gotten her pregnant.

These are the all too often realities of life in Africa.  Death is common.  The day before, Sharon had lost the baby.  She had been abandoned to the Jinja Main Hospital by the village clinic after they made a mess of her.  Though the family pleaded with the clinic staff to take Sharon to the hospital, they waited days, until it was too late. She had lost so much blood.  Too much, in fact, for the circumstances.  Lyzette attempted to find blood, but failed.  Sharon's baby was lost in an attempt to save her life. Now, in less than 24 hours, the teenage mother was also dead.  It was too much for Lyzette to manage on her own.  Plus her vehicle would have never made it to the village, had she attempted that journey on her own.

I have two prominent thoughts.  First: if this had happened in American probably both the mother and the baby would be adapting to a new way of life.  But, this is not America.  This is Uganda and avoidable death is all too common.  Second: I'm so glad there are people like Lyzette here in places like this.  She loves these women and their families that are in crisis.  Without her this experience would have been too difficult.

A small church in rural Oklahoma has donated funds so that Next Generation Ministries can purchase land for a women's clinic.  My dream from 2007 is becoming a reality.  Our desire was to have a clinic for women's health issues ... a clinic that would treat women with dignity and value ... one that would love its patients.  Such a clinic will now also serve as a place for Lyzette to use for some of her girls from Women in Crisis.

Some of our friends are donating funds for the construction of the building.  We hope to have the land and start construction on it within a few months.  If you would like to participate in this important effort, with a donation of any size, you can use the PayPal donate button on this site or mail a check to Next Generation Ministries, 29940 South Dhooghe Road, Colton, Oregon, 97017.  Please write CLINIC on the memo line.

There are no photos for this post.  I was too absorbed in the elements of the experience to take any.  I wish I had some because words fall short of recreating the experience I had for you.

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