Vol. 24, #3
One day in 1994, I literally stumbled over a three year old Maasai child, in a Maasai nomadic encampment. When the little girl was two, her mother went for firewood leaving her in the care of her older sister. The children were playing in the cow dung plastered house on the raised skin bed next to the fire. Ngoona fell off the bed into the fire. The women were all off in the forest cutting firewood so no one heard her screams. Terrified, her big sister ran out of the house to look for her mother, leaving Ngoona to painfully crawl out of the ashes. It took her over a year to heal. The scars were terrible especially around her knees and quickly the scarred skin tightened up drawing her legs back on themselves. Ngoona never got to walk; she could only painfully draw herself along through the dust on her stomach using her arms. And that is the way, a year later, I stumbling over Ngoona as I went from one house to another to greet the people of her village.
One day in the course of my teaching, Ngoona’s mother remarked bitterly "How can you tell us that God is "Our Father". We Maasai know that God helps us, He brings the rain and gives us children, but he hates us sometimes too. Look what he did to Ngoona. He made her into an animal crawling around on her belly like a snake". In response to my question: Why have not you taken her to the hospital, the mother of Ngoona’s said that nothing could be done; God has cursed us.
We talked a lot that day and in the weeks following. It is we who, by our own choices, have ruined things. By our own hatred and uncaring attitudes, we have brought on ourselves most of the troubles that we have. On the other hand we are not programmed like a computer. We are not locked into our lives. We are not cursed. We can take our lives into our hands and make them better. Slowly the family came to believe that to get help for the little girl would not be tempting God but rather working with him. We took her to our mission hospital and from there to a referral hospital for plastic surgery. Years later, after three plastic surgery operations, Ngoona walked upright, went to school, got married and had three children of her own.
Just this week, Ngoona brought her son Telele to me. Her has a spinal problem and cannot walk the distance to school from her village. Telele will stay here at the mission and attend first grade at the local government primary school. He will be one of the handicapped kids that we care for here, enabling them to get medical treatment and an education.
Till next month,