Not long after our visit to the preschool graduation, our friend/nurse/colleague, Julie, took us to visit a destitute family in the rural area nearby. She had visited the previous week and came with a distressing report of this family’s situation.
The father is 75-years-old and blind. The mother is 35 and HIV+. They have four children between the ages of 10 months and 10 years. The baby was sick.
When we drove into the “yard” around the rondavel where they lived, it appeared to be completely deserted. Rusted pots and broken detritus of living were strewn haphazardly. Nothing was planted deliberately, but weeds were profuse. I didn’t see a latrine or an area for cooking.
Inside the little round hut the floor was at least cement. The blackened thatch hung in cobwebby strings. About a third of the floor space was obliterated by junk. The ancient blind man was kneeling on a mat with the baby tied to his back. The baby had recovered. His wife lay on her side on the floor covered from head to toe in a nondescript blanket. Only one thin foot protruded. She did not respond to any talking to her, but moved so we knew she was alive. Julie had spoken with her the week before and said she was very weak and gaunt.
The husband never stopped thanking us for visiting, bowing forward with the baby bobbing forward and back. He so appreciated the honor we did him by coming. This visit Julie was prepared and had brought several sack of corn meal, oil, dried fish, sugar and food items provided by TEAM for those without means.
Julie said that the previous visit, the hut had been filthy, the floor littered with dirty clothes and excrement. A kind neighbor, whom we met, had come to help and clean, even bathing the patient. Her face was radiant and I sensed the depth of her concern for this family.
This type of situation is not uncommon in Zimbabwe. As a nurse, Julie hears about them frequently, always being asked for more help than she can give. We prayed with them, as the pastor and she had done the week before. In the midst of the misery, the Lord received the glory for the help of the neighbor and the gift of food. Will this family recover to become healthy and be a part of Kingdom building?
Common sense says no, but I am becoming more aware that common sense isn’t able to account for the God-factor.