Ok … so this time I was very lost …. Almost two months have passed since posting my last blog and I may well be writing this to myself because you’ve probably all lost hope and given up looking! What can I say … I’m sorry … we’ve been very busy and I just find it very hard to tear myself away from people … from all people but especially from the small ones.
Which leads me neatly into our most recent news and the reason why, for a time, I might actually be happy to stay in my room, writing on my computer. Right now, someone has to stay ‘indoors’ and be responsible for taking care of our most recent visitor or possibly new family member. Of all the children we have met in Kosele, she is probably the most vulnerable and, like all of them, definitely very precious. She arrived last Friday night at about 8:00pm in the arms of Pesila, one of the ladies who works with us. At 6:00pm, just an hour before dark, Pesila had been walking down a small track into the bush to go and check her shamba. Having walked some distance from the main road she suddenly heard a small cry. Looking into the thorn bushes she was truly shocked to find a completely naked, newly born, baby girl. The umbilical cord had been roughly cut and she saw that the placenta was lying nearby, slightly covered with soil. But the baby girl was lying without any kind of clothing or cover on the hard, dirt ground. With the help of a neighbour, Pesila wrapped the baby in a shawl and took her to the Kosele Police Station. They took a full report and then drove the two ladies and the baby girl to our home.
I don’t think any of us could really quite believe that this little bundle of arms and legs, fingers and toes and mop of soft curly hair … in desperate need of her first bath … could, just hours earlier, have been lying completely abandoned on the dirt, in the bush. We are still in the middle of the ‘rainy’ season and, on the previous afternoon, whilst out visiting a neighbour we had been caught in the most torrential rain and thunder storm. It had been impossible to find a dry path home … we leapt across as many of the streams as we could but in the end had to accept that the only way back was to paddle through the worst of them. The thunder clouds returned on Friday but, fortunately, this time they rumbled past and did not bring us any rain.
Our first thoughts were that this little girl had possibly been born to a young school mum, someone who had possibly tried to hide her pregnancy and then panicked at her birth. We were somewhat taken aback when about an hour later we had at least a dozen young men on motor bikes (piki piki taxi-riders) a significant number of whom had clearly been drinking, demanding that we hand them the baby because they ‘know the father of the baby.’ Twenty minutes later they arrived with an elderly gentleman (in his 70’s) claiming to be the father and saying that the wife had ‘escaped or gone!’ They were still expecting us to hand the baby over but, fortunately, one of the ‘sober’ motorcyclists eventually accepted that waiting for daylight was in fact a very reasonable request.
Early next morning the elderly gentleman arrived at our gate with his wife, a woman in her late thirties. Given the circumstances of her arrival into our care and our inability to reach our Local Children’s Officer on the phone, we agreed that we should all head up to the Police station. When we arrived at the police station the woman was hitting the side of her head and trying to suggest that she was not mentally fit; that some medication she was on had caused her to behave in this irrational way. However, as the events of the previous day began to unfold it seemed that the truth was much more complicated. The lady actually runs a small business selling vegetables in Kosele market (having bought them first in our local town of Oyugis.) On Friday it seems that she went, as normal, to Oyugis town where she bought her vegetables and then took a piki piki back to Kosele. Just after passing our home it seems that she realised her waters had broken and she was about to give birth. It is still not clear if the motorcyclist stayed with her or went on ahead to Kosele … but she then says that she gave birth to what she believed was a premature, dead, baby girl. However, from there it seems that she then went on up to Kosele and carried on selling her vegetables. When she realised the baby had been found, she panicked and ran and hid and did not go back to her home until late. There are also rumours (as there always are in these situations) that the baby had been fathered by one of the piki piki men! Back at their home, there are another nine children, including young twins, though we now believe some of them were from the gentleman’s first wife. The OCS (Chief police officer) ended up arresting the woman, only releasing her on a 5,000/- (£45) bond to ensure that she appears in the courts at Oyugis. We finally reached our District Children’s Officer on the phone this morning (Monday) and he said the decision about the baby’s future would lie with the courts. We have no idea how this will all work out … the thought of a baby being returned to a mother who had simply left her for dead fills us with horror (even if she really thought her baby was dead, would a mother really be happy to leave the body of a premature or a full-term baby to be taken by wild dogs?)
About six years ago, another Children’s Officer asked us to care for an abandoned baby who, several months later, was taken to another part of the country for official adoption … So, we have all tried very hard not to become too emotionally attached to this little girl, BUT, as you can probably imagine, we have all failed miserably … Like any new born baby, she is ‘perfectly beautiful and unbelievably cute.’ The circumstances of her birth just heighten your normal maternal/paternal response to care for and to ‘protect’ her little life …
I remember meeting Terry’s paternal grandmother, more than thirty years ago, and listening to her describe Terry’s natural instinct and big, soft heart for looking after babies … he hasn’t changed. Please pray for the very best outcome for our little Hope Achieng (Achieng is a Luo name that means being born when the sun was shining.) Please pray that there is no room for corruption in the handling of her case and that God’s wisdom and His most perfect plans will prevail.