Every Thursday we go into the village of Kaisosi with our volunteers and do home visits with the orphans at our project. We primarily check their health and the volunteers have a medical bag full of supplies for wound care, cough syrup, thermometers, and some other random things. Normally kids complain of headaches (the sun shines all day without a cloud in the sky and they don’t drink water - a good recipe for a headache), or they have a cough (viruses run rampant in the community due to poor hygiene and low immune systems).
But today was a unique experience.
Our time started out with a conversation with one of the volunteers who informed us of some major issues that are currently in the local church we attend. We will need to tread carefully as to not take sides and burn bridges. There is obviously a lot we don’t understand.
Soon after we ran into a situation where an Auntie was beating her 6 year old nephew with sticks. We (the volunteer, Shelley and I) ran over to step into the situation and take the boy away. The little boy, Jacob, is in a family well known to us due to the many issues that have been raised in the past. We had already removed his 12 year old sister for the same reasons of abuse. The Auntie is an alcoholic with no children of her own, and of course the beatings get more severe as the alcohol intake increases. The siblings’ parents are no longer in the picture (the father abused the girl when he was around) and so extended family now “care” for them. The community has tried to deal with the situation by talking to the Auntie and reasoning with her, but they don’t seem to understand that an alcoholic who is sober for a day will claim many things until the next bought of alcohol when the cycle starts again. So, Jacob held Shelley’s hand for the rest of our home visits until we were done (Jacob is the one on the far right).
Walking along, gathering more and more kids who all wanted to hold our hands, we came across a group of young girls who were all standing in a row with the sand all marked out in a big T in front of them. I asked if they were about to play some sort of game and the response was that they were practicing being in a beauty pageant! So I asked them for a show, pulled out my camera and we had fun “make believing”.
Carrying on we ran into a huge commotion with people running and crowd’s gathering. We found out that a man had just been caught for stealing 5 cows. In this culture, it is considered very bad and along with catching the thief comes beating him to a pulp. We still had little Jacob along with us and so weren’t interested in sticking around to have him observe another round of physical violence.
When we were wrapping up we needed to come up with some short term solutions for our little dude, who when I stopped him to look him in the eyes nearly burst into tears. We held a meeting with some of his distant relatives who agreed to temporarily house Jacob, and we have an appointment with a social worker on Monday about the situation. I haven’t seen a lot of first hand abuse. It’s not easy. We pray for wisdom in the days ahead.