8 months! I can't believe I haven't posted anything in 8 months!! Well, there really is no good way to catch you up on life here. I apologize for NOT writing. You see, if you know me well, you might know that I LOVE to journal. In fact, I journal almost every day. But, it is hard for me (for some reason) to get on the computer and type out things that are going on in my life. I'm not good at blogging like my love, Michael is. Not to mention my camera was smashed to PIECES in an accident I was in when we were in Tanzania.
Though I have no pictures to post right now, I want to share sad news and good news. As you might know Michael and I went to Florida for about 3 weeks, end of January to mid Feb. We had a wonderful time! It was so good to be back in the states for a while and to see my mom and Al and one of my best friends Katie Koz. It was also SO terrific to finally meet the rest of Michael's family and some of his closest friends. I love them all and can't wait to be NEAR them!! Well, if you want more details on our fantastic time in the states, you have to ask for it! ;)
I wanted to share with you quickly that good and sad news I mentioned earlier. (It did relate to our trip to America, haha that wasn't a total tangent, though it was...a little bit) So, before we left for America, I had been living in Morrumbala for over a year. In that time I became good friends with some of my neighbors in my community, my "bairro" of M'Bobo. I'm particularly closest with two families, the family that is directly next to my house and the family who lives right behind my house. The news all relates to the family that lives in the house behind mine.
I stop by their house everyday, sometimes for a long while, we sit and play cards and sometimes just a quick hello. I grew very fond of the two daughters that lived here with their parents. The oldest was Nina, she was 23 years old and her younger sister is Sarah, she is 19 years old. I used to just sit with Nina and Sarah, sometimes talking and other times just sitting. Silently enjoying one another's company under the mango tree. Nina was really into fashion and she would always ask me to bring her pictures to look at, and she was even a part of the sewing group that my other neighbor Lina and I had started. Nina was young, and so sweet. She was getting more and more sick as time went on. As her health was deteriorating, I was unsure how to approach the situation.
Working with Save the Children I am constantly going out with local volunteers, Activistas, and visiting people who are very ill. That has always been draining on me, very emotionally draining. But I was going out with the Activistas to try and see how they could improve their home visits with the ill people that they were weekly visiting because that is what Save the Children asked me to do. Though I was doing that 4 days out of the week, it didn't prepare me for how to deal with Nina. Nina was my friend. She was my age. From what I had seen of people living with HIV/AIDs I was convinced that Nina would test positive for it.
It was hard to ever get Nina alone, someone was always around. I wanted to talk with her. And when I finally managed to talk with her alone once, she said she took the test and was negative. She claimed it was malaria and she was taking medications for it. I tried to talk to her mom, her mom didn't want to talk though. What do you do? There is medication to help you live a good and long life, but you have to be willing to take the medication. You must be willing to accept what you have. Nina wasn't willing. I spoke with co-workers and friends (without giving away who she was) about what can I DO?! They all suggested to keep trying to talk with her and/or her parents and talk to a mutual friend, someone Nina has known longer who can talk to her. Ok, great, I thought. I will talk to Lina, my closest friend at site who is also so close with Nina. She knows the situation already and maybe Nina or Nina's family will listen to her.....
In the mean time, the good news is also happening. Sarah, Nina's younger sister is pregnant and she is getting ready to have the baby, this is in January and she is gonna pop soon. This will be her first child, and she is married and she is so excited. Sarah is young, but I'm thankful that she is married to a nice, young man. And Sarah is going to continue going to school, her family is going to help her take care of her baby so that she can finish up her education.
Sarah is pregnant, full of life and glowing. Nina is sick, and looks like she is wanting to leave this life. My heart was so torn when I was visiting them. On one hand I was so excited for the baby to arrive, on the other hand, I so desperately wanted Nina to start taking treatment.
I spoke with Lina, and she said she also tried talking to Nina. Lina said that Nina didn't want to take any medications. She was going to get better on her own or she wouldn't. My heart was so saddened. You can't force a person to do something they don't want to do. But I just wanted her to understand, that if she did NOT take medication, she would NOT just get better. Once we talked with Nina about that, I was at a loss.
One week till we are leaving for the states and out comes the baby. And here is the great news, that makes me smile to think about. The family asked ME to name the baby! I was so thrilled that they would give me the honor of naming their first baby. =) Often, people have many babies here, so after a few it might be more common to ask for someone else to name the baby, but their first child! Wow! =) So I thought about it for quite some time, and thought the babie's name should be....
They loved it! They decided that would be his name, Noah. Still makes me smile. I say goodbye to Noah and the family as I am leaving for my trip back to the states. Not knowing what it would be like when I returned. I told Lina to keep trying to talk to Nina and her family.
Well, a month later, I was back. The first news I get was that Nina had passed away. I couldn't hold back the tears. My friend. I couldn't help but wonder what could I have done differently? What more could I have done? I miss her. Her presence is missed in the community. I know I did what I could, and it's not my fault, but maybe that is normal to think about when someone you care about passes away.
I still go to their house everyday. Noah is healthy and chubby. He brings joy to my life. Sometimes when I am feeling low, I go to the house behind mine and I go to hold Noah. He is so small, so fragile, so innocent, so beautiful. I feel so attached to him.
Life and death. Both are a part of life. It's just so hard when the person who dies is so young, and you know that they didn't have to die yet.....
And so there you have it, Nina and Noah. Two people whom I will never forget, not for the rest of my life.