Editor Note: In the life of a missionary not everything is upbeat. Sometimes you feel impotent when faced with some situations. Sr. Ese’s story below reminds us of this.
by Sr. Ese Idogen MMM Nigeria/Angola 16.03.2023
I don’t feel too good today. I remember my little friend Miguel. He is just 6 months old; he has a beautiful smile with such nice dimples. Whenever you tickle his nose, even if he had been crying, he will begin to laugh. It is always lovely to see and to hear him laugh. Sounds beautiful right? Yes, he is! I am sure you are wondering where the story is leading. I will tell you.
Miguel isn’t really one of the ‘lucky ones’. He was born into a poor home. His mother, Maria, is vulnerable. She has a problem understanding things and it seems she always has a runny nose.
Despite her vulnerabilities, how she always remembers to bring Miguel for his vaccination when due is still a mystery to me. When it comes to vaccination for her children, she is a perfect example of a good mother.
The last time she visited, she came in her usual way; struggling to carry Miguel on one hand and a big bag on the other. But something was different about this visit. The way she handled Miguel was different, the usual big grin you see on her face was missing.
Maria sat behind, as she usually does. She kept moving her body as if she wanted me to notice her, and I did. Clearly, she was distressed. I went over to her and I struggled to communicate with her in Portuguese “Mãe, Tudo Bem?” (All well?). She could not say a word. She took me inside away from the other women. She made gestures with her hands, removed her wrapper that already was almost falling and showed me her stomach.
I bet you are thinking the same thing as I thought. “Oh, could there be another little one on the way?’’ I said to myself as I kept struggling to make meaning from the gestures she made. I asked her if she could explain to my colleague as she will understand better. She had no problem talking to her so I invited my colleague. We struggled between trying to make meaning from her words to hearing her low toned voice and then following the gestures she was making. My colleague finally asked her “Are you pregnant”? And Maria slowly nodded her head. I looked at Miguel who was clearly malnourished, I looked at the mother and then I looked at the little one we are expecting and her words that followed, broke my heart. ‘’Please take Miguel, make him yours. I am offering him to you. I am not able to take care of him along with the children I already have in the house” and then she added “Vou morrer” (that is to say “else, I will die”).
Yes, the clinic is really hectic. We asked her to come along with her husband so we have a conversation and know how best we can help. But for some weeks now, I haven’t seen Miguel or Maria. The last time I tried to find out from the staff that lives close to them, “they seem to be fine” I was told.
I still look forward to seeing Miguel and Maria and I hope to visit them soon. Until then, I just keep them in my prayers, and I ask you to do same.