Tuesday, March 2, 2010

How even to begin! When people ask what I miss most about Mapaki, I usually tell them I miss the babies. Reuniting with my “baby” Kadiatu Carol, the first child born and named after me when I came to Mapaki three years ago, the child I snuggled and watched grow and worried over when she was ill, who would come with her mom on almost daily visits (her mom and I would struggle across language barriers to finally just sit and hold and love this growing child)…seeing Kadiatu again would have been my greatest delight. The anguish that Kaditu’s young mom must be feeling and dealing with now is beyond my comprehension. Kadiatu, like many children in Sierra Leone, suffered from malaria recently. Last week like the other one in four babies who don’t survive their first few years, Kadiatu died. One small child, one among many in a tiny corner of the world in a country many have not even heard of leaves a monumental hole in the hearts of those who loved her. I sit here in the airport, en route to Mapaki, bags filled with books and medical supplies, plans made, workshop invitations printed up, reports to present and meetings to hold and am reminded by thoughts of Kadiatu’s short life of what really matters, what’s truly essential in this life we are given to live. Wise words from my brother and sister-in-law resound. Love and cherish those around you as deeply as you can. Don’t worry about things you cannot change. Resolve conflicts as they emerge. Care for and about others. The workshops and meetings and books and medical supplies will have an impact but really, what I will be focusing on this trip will be building and rebuilding relationships to help create long-lasting and solid connections between these two worlds I’m straddling. I have no idea what technical challenges lie ahead and can’t guarantee that I’ll be able to post regularly so am posting now, while I know I can access internet and power. My first stop in Mapaki will be to share some tears, memories and this photo with Kadiatu’s mom at her home on the edge of the village. I hope to post again as soon as I can after arrival.