Day 9: Peace, Happiness and Life . . . or No one knows the day you die
We started our intervention project with the Batwa today. so many days of planning for this one day event. We want to wieigh them all, measure height and upper arm circumference, etc. When we asked what assets they had to contribute to our health intervention, they responded "Peace, happiness, and life." Very beautiful. These folks have virtually nothing. The Batwa’s population is decreasing about 1% per year. They may be extinct in our lifetime if they cannot have stable health.
This is the typical home, made for 4-8 people. It is probably a little less than 100 square feet. The tallest Batwa we measured was 171 cm tall, about 5′ 7" tall. The hut is barely tall enough for them.
However, the umuswa mzungu (stupid white people – that is my choice of words, not theirs) did all they could to mess it all up. We administered medicine for the worms, did Vitamin A, gave out the finished medical clinic cards (see previous blog), and then gave out clothes. Well, there were not enough clothes somehow. We kind of messed up in the system of distributing the stuff. A few teenage boys got into a scuffle (I guess teenage boys are the same everywhere) and one ended up with a bloody nose. So much for peace and happiness. On the ride home, I found out from one of our highly edcucated translators that the exact translation of mzungu is not "white people" but "those who come to take over." Hmm.
All in all, I had a great time. The arrival and departure took almost as long as the "health fair," what with all the hugging and kissing and handshaking. A very wonderful people.
As to the rest of the title . . . No one knows the day you die. That was the literal translation of one little boy’s name. Very interesting.
Probably the most touching part of the day was when a sick little girl was literally falling asleep as she sat on a bench. No one was paying attention to her. I started to get worried because she was nodding off to sleep and nearly falling over. I finally went and sat next to her to keep her from falling over. She was burning up. I eventually put her in my lap and rocked her to sleep. I wanted to cool her off with some water, but the nearest water source is a full hour’s walk away, down a steep terrain. We tried to convince the father to come with us and let us take them to the nearest health center. However, time was short, and knowing that the health center was about to close, the father refused, but promised to take her the following day. We spotted him enough money to make sure he could get the medicine she would need and secured his commitment to spend the money on her medical needs.
Here are a few more photos of Day 9. Lots of mommas with children less than 1 year apart. So many die, they just keep having more.
Love to you all!!!
Christopher and Le