The things we see sometimes don’t make sense. She was about 4 years old, significantly malnourished and dressed in a white dress as if she was ready to go to church. A white dress. For a significantly malnourished little girl, living in the bush and the daughter of a Turkana warrior. How so you ask? I don’t know. But what I do know is that she was hungry and thirsty. Children need what they need and they need it when they need it. We sent a guard to the local “shop” to buy some milk. He came back with a few boxes and a sippy cup. I poured her some, she took it, drank it without stopping, and then reached out for more. The fly on her cheek never moved. I gave her some more and she drank. I gave her mother several of the boxes of milk and sent her on her way, knowing that those few boxes may be the only ones she’d have for a very long time. But truth be told, it may or may not be a very long time. I trust those on the ground, the local caregivers, to continue the nutritional rescue by getting her milk.
Did I do her justice or did I do her wrong? Did I tempt her, give her false hope, a taste of something that she may not ever have again? Or did I give her a small chance of gaining an ounce or two of weight with the small amount of milk I gave her to drink if for but a day? The hard taskmaster is to balance the false hope of a better life and the reality of a simple gesture of grace and kindness. I chose the latter. I’ve been wrong before, so no kudos for me.
What Covenant Medicine Outreach is all about, is simply that. Being present when present, with grace and kindness. As we move forward with this new medical ministry, we’ll focus on not what we bring, but what we leave behind. Like for that little girl. A moment of caring that she’ll remember as she drinks her milk.
(photo credit: Brandon Cunningham)