July 5 2008
Today I went to Nomeuti, a Masai village 30 miles South, meaning well off the paved road. My friend Julius Mwanga, Medical Secretary of the Diocese and I were going to meet with the church elders, all Masai, to make sure they would be ready for the Bishop and government officials when they arrived there later this week to sign a cooperation agreement for operating the Nomeuti dispensary. It was a most humble and dusty situation where the Swahili had to be translated to Kimasai for some of the members. After the meeting we had the usual terribly sweet tea plus fried bread or yam the candy from America I had brought along.
We started to leave but waiting was a mother with a 12 year old in a wheelchair. The kid had cerebral palsy or something similar. In that environment it is pretty difficult to care for even a healthy child, let alone one that is mentally retarded and paralyzed. Yet that is what this strong mom was continuing to do. The child had had some kind surgery but the wound had not healed. Since I was the only vehicle to pass in a week they begged a ride out to the main road so they could catch a bus and take the child to the big hospital in Moshi.. What could I say but yes. Mom and a brother sat on either side of the 12 year old in the back seat.
I had not planned to go to Moshi, but did not want to abandon them when we reached the highway…knowing they would be in for many hours and several bus changes to arrive at the hospital. So, I drove them right there…and because they came with a white Dr (or so they all thought) they were taken right into the hospital. Then a bit of the pure Africa experience occurred as, after all that had been done for them, the mother hit me up for some money. All I could do is laugh, and yes, give her some cash, maybe as a thank you for her example and witness of caring and love for her child.