Someone recently came to tell us that there was a boy up the road who needed to come to the clinic. We were planning to head that direction to collect some grass for our roof so we made a program to go and pick the boy up. When we reached his house, I was completely unprepared to see this child in such a terrible condition. A boy of about 12 years old, his face was half swollen, half sunken. His knees looked to be two to three times the size of his thighs. His legs had sores all over them and the skin on his feet was flapping in the wind. At first our fellow Home Based Care volunteer Innocent brought him to the front passenger side seat and put him there and shut the door. The boy, with no strength or muscle tension he just sort of rolled and flopped there. There was no way he was going to make it down the clinic road without falling off the seat. That and his open wounds had gone septic – the smell was almost unbearable and with his limbs flailing, the oozing from the wounds was getting on the stick shift, the steering wheel, everywhere. Had we known how infected this child was, Jeremy probably would have gone alone and left Bronwyn and I at home. But here we were, with this tragically ill child. For the boy’s sake and ours, we put him in the bed of the Landrover and prepared to leave. I took a few minutes to explain to his grandmother (both parents have passed away) that the boy would not be coming home today. He needed to go to the hospital in town and would likely be there for several weeks. The grandmother seemed completely ignorant that her grandson was on his deathbed. The more I talked to the people who had gathered around the vehicle, the more I realized that no one was taking responsibility for this child. “He’s not mine.” I heard over and over. “I can’t stay with him in the hospital, what will I eat?” I felt my skin getting hot and tears coming to my eyes. I held it together while I said my final words to the small crowd that was now encircling me. “It doesn’t matter that he’s not your child. He’s God’s child and you people who call yourselves Christians should feel ashamed for keeping this boy here in this condition.” The onlookers nodded and said “True, true, the words of Christ are with you.” Great, so who is taking care of this boy… The grandmother had agreed that she would accompany the boy to the hospital and have someone send her food, so we started off. With the smell of this boys rotting flesh still lingering in the cab, my tears started to flow. How could his extended family not have known that this boy is dying? I looked to my left at my baby, a picture of perfect health, sitting unaware in her secure carseat. Then I looked back at the boy, draped limply over his grandmothers lap, the skin flaps exposing his rotting flesh collecting dirt from the bed of the truck. This boy is somebody’s baby, I kept thinking. I wonder if his mother, before she died, prayed that someone would take care of her baby. I wonder if she would weep, just as I do, to see what has happened to him. I can’t make him better – I can only take him to a place where he has a chance to heal.
Oh Lord we pray for all those children out there without earthly parents to care for them and cry for them when they are hurt. Please take care of this boy, heal his wounds and heal his heart I pray. And if his physical body is beyond repair, don’t let him suffer, Lord, take him to be with you. Amen