February 2002

Endulen Diary
Vol.: 17, #3
February, 2002

February 9:

Munene will return to school after giving birth… .
The three primary school girls that became pregnant last year have all received letters telling them that they will not be accepted back into school after giving birth. I saw the letter that Munene received as a real put down. I contacted the teacher and asked about the boys. Are they being denied education also? It seems that special permission should be gotten from higher up to accept the girl back into school. Anyway after prolonged negotiation, we parted friends and I came away with a letter, complete with official stamp that says Munene will be accepted back into school and will be able to repeat the school year that she has mostly missed.

February 22:

Munene gave birth to a beautiful baby girl last night… We’re now looking for a fat sheep that her friends will slaughter and eat with her. Munene will use the fat for herself and her infant daughter. If all goes well, Munene will return to school in three months time.

February 28:

New hearing aids for Noontomon…
I was recently able to get a new set of hearing aids for Noontomon. In was no big deal because she has been using others for thirteen years. Those have now worn out. Thirteen years ago when I gave her hearing aids for the first time, it was a very big deal. Here is what I wrote at that time:

February 1988

Recently, Frank Malinowski, a Spiritan, came out to visit us here in Tanzania. Maasai country problems of cattle disease and the lack of water occupied much of our conversation, but a local tragedy especially caught his attention. I told him of, Noontomon, a young married girl here in the Endulen area that is almost totally deaf. She and her friends often stop by the house for a cup of tea when they come to Endulen shopping.

Noontomon is always straining to hear what is said, wanting to be part of the conversation, but invariably unable to “catch”, what people are saying. To her frequent pleas of “What did you say?.”, people literally must yell a reply in her ear. Relaxing a little, she says “Oh!” and makes an appropriate comment. But by that time the conversation has moved on and Noontomon is left behind.

Since one week ago, the situation has changed dramatically. A small box arrived from Frank Malinowski. It contained a hearing aid, plenty of spare batteries and a book of instructions. It happened that on that day Noontomon, her husband, their small daughter and many people from their village came by. Everyone was sitting around drinking tea engaged in animated conversation. Noontomon, as usual was on the sidelines straining, mostly unsuccessfully, to catch a word here and there. At this point I produced Frank’s box, and everyone laughed when I said inside was a small machine that would make Noontomon hear. When this was yelled into Noontomon’s ear, she did not laugh. The expression on her face indicated that she was hurt that I would make a joke of something that caused her so much pain.

As I pulled the little hunk of plastic out of its’ box and inserted it in Noontomon’s ear I told her that it was not a joke. As soon as it was in her ear, she was transfixed, her face frozen in fear, dismay, I don’t know what. Slowly it dawned on her. She was hearing, hearing voices from all over the room. She responded to a remark someone made in a quiet tone of voice on the other side of the room. All conversation stopped dead and people got funny expressions on their faces. Out of the silence, thrust a small cry from Noontomon. “I hear you.”

After initial consternation, everyone wanted to talk to Noontomon. It became a game with everybody wanting to try Noontomon out in ever-lower tones of voice from further and further away.

Hey Frank…thirteen years down the road…Thanks again from Noontomon and her family.

Till next month…


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