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Africa Report: Treating for Worms and Leaving the Forest

Feb 27, 2005

Our from-the-heart-of-Africa reports from Miriam Pacheco and Barb Wooler continue. Here is an edited version of Sunday’s e-mail report from Miriam:

The mourning and wailing quieted Friday night in Moale, replaced with a full-fledged community “sala ngia” ~ making joy/gathering for fellowship ~ around the fire with lots of singing. We found out in the morning that the believers were there and said everything was good. What a blessing to know that in this time of deep sorrow for the community and the church, they were responding in godly ways. Thank you so much for praying for that specifically. Your prayers are having an effect on the children of the forest!

The storm finally did hit around 1 or 2 am, but it wasn’t a strong one and it settled into a steady rain that lasted until mid-morning. It was nice to have an unusually leisurely couple of morning hours. We were ready for the Moale weekend to begin.

UNTIL……..Pastor BABAY and his wife brought their 14-month-old baby who has been sick for several days. Barb was giving him a treatment for malaria and also we had mixed up a rehydration drink for him because he was so lethargic and weak. He seemed to perk up a little from the drink, but he was still a sick little guy. As they told Barb the symptoms, she once again checked in her “Where There Is No Doctor” manual (that’s the greatest book!) and it seemed to indicate that he probably had a ball of worms in his intestine. The treatment for worms is relatively simple – a three-day dose of Vermox which is little tablets you chew. But the book and the medicine bottle say they are for kids two-years-old or older. So Barb was very hesitant to give it to him. The only other option was to take the parents and baby out to a dispensary for treatment. And we only had enough gas for one more trip out of the forest.

As soon as word spread that we would be leaving ~ and it seemed to take only seconds ~ there were several others who were sure they needed a ride somewhere and they came to ask. Also a young woman who had just arrived from another village came to greet us.

This young woman, Loaka Anne, was in the very first beginner’s class I taught back in the mid ‘90s when she was probably around 14 or 15, and she was a great student. She progressed very fast in reading and became a very capable teacher also. She had great potential and could have been a wonderful influence in the lives of many young people in the Moale GBC and the community.

But instead of following the pure lifestyle that Jesus commanded us to live, this energetic, beautiful young woman chose to believe the lie of Satan that sex is the thing to live your life for. She never married, bore two children, and now she is sick with AIDS. She looks very thin and is weak. It was such a heartbreak to see how she is wasting away. Her oldest child is also not well and probably has AIDS, too. I pray that her heart is right with God and that I will see her in Heaven some day. I’m certain I’ll never see her here on earth again.

We heard the sound of a truck. As we sat and talked with the people, into our yard walked a white woman and three tall Africans (villagers as opposed to Pygmies). They were speaking French and told us they were on a mission to give polio vaccinations to kids five and under. We had heard on the BBC something about that happening in CAR but figured they’d never get into the forest to find these kids. But there they were. Barb asked them about the symptoms for BABAY’s baby. They said they would start with a malaria treatment (yep!) and then if that didn’t do it they’d give a worm treatment. Barb explained that we didn’t have anything for babies that small and they said all they would give them was Vermox. SO…in telling the parents that, they decided not to leave but to go ahead with the Vermox treatment.

We were packed and the others were counting on us going. So we left! Little by little we dropped our passengers off, the last one in Bangui at the corner to catch a taxi and we arrived at the Mission about 10 pm. When we come back from the forest we always call it the Bangui Hilton. It just feels so good to get a real shower and have a nice bed to sleep in and a quiet place to gather your thoughts and not have it be like Grand Central Station.

I was sad to leave the forest so quickly without being able to complete what I thought I would be doing there, even though the work I did was important and significant. And there were some of the folks I would have liked to sit with a little longer and ask them some more questions.

But I am also glad to be back here in the capital city where life is more like how I’m used to it. I anticipate some good days ahead working with Project Hope & Charite ~ GBIM’s widow and orphan care program getting underway here.