Vol. 17, #6
Major flooding here in Endulen… A herd of forty goats was swept away when crossing a torrent that is usually a placid creek. All except three were able to struggle to safety. The three were found dead a couple of miles down stream caught in the branches of fallen trees…, an unwelcome feast.
Nawasa’ leg was giving trouble again. For a couple of years
following her first surgery, Nawasa did well. She could run and jump
almost as well as other Maasai children. But slowly the skin around her knee joint began to harden. Heavy scars from her injury and the first operation steadily tightened their viselike grip, robbing her once more of the use of the leg. Then as the years passed she has walked in a progressively tighter crouch. Her sideways progress resembled that of a crab. Her tightly bent leg forced her to move along in almost a sitting position.
The trouble began twenty one years ago. She was four months old and she fell into the fire. Her mother had left her in the care of an older child to borrow a cooking pot from a neighbor. A little girl was sitting by the fire holding Nawasa on her lap. The cry of a calf coming into the small dung plastered house startled her. Nawasa fell to the ground and her leg came to rest in the fire. Her mother heard her terrified cries and came running, but the damage had was done. All the skin of Nawasas’ leg was black and blistering and the fire had deeply eaten into her knee. She healed slowly and painfully.
I met her in my regular round of preaching. She was sitting in the
dust on a very hot morning playing with some other children near the gate of a Maasai village. The other children, prompted by their mothers, came to greet me, offering their heads to be lightly touched by my open hand.
They responded to my greetings and then stood waiting expectantly for what would happen next. One hadn’t come. She was still sitting by herself near the cattle gate with her leg doubled up underneath her. It was Nawasa.
I asked about her and learned her story. Her mother and I took
Nawasa to see our local doctor in Endulen. He explained to us that
she would need and operation to free her leg from the massive scar
tissue that encased and immobilized it, and then another after some
years. That first operation was a major undertaking. The Kenya
Flying Doctor Service did the operation for free, but the trip to and from Loliondo, our most Northerly Maasai mission, which hosted the surgeons was costly, as was the three months spent in the hospital there. Nawasas’ father is dead and her mother has only one cow. Disease had finished off the rest. Relatives were generally unable to help because of problems of their own, so it fell to me to do something.
Then the time for the second operation arrived and Nawasas’ mother
came to me again for help. I was at a total loss as to what to do.
At this point, entered the Elfrieda Steffan, a Spiritan Associate
with her Help for the Disabled program.
HELP FOR THE DISABLED is a program of the Arusha Diocese conceived
and built up by Spiritan Associate Elfrieda Steffan. The purpose of this Spiritan project is to help with operations, artificial limbs etc… Now that Elfrieda is retired, Nurse Anna and her staff do the networking that make otherwise inaccessible help available to people like Nawasa. Help for the disabled or “Huduma ya Walemavu” as it is called in Kiswahili has helped many people, among them Nawasa and other Maasai from Endulen.
I took Nawasa to see Elfrieda and Anna. They told me that a German
plastic surgeon was coming to Arusha. Elfrieda and Anna agreed to
make arrangements for the operation and to watch over Nawasa and her
mother while in Arusha. The operation is over now and was a total
success. During their time in Arusha, Elfrieda and Anna were family to these two Maasai from far out in the bush. Besides visiting them in the hospital often, they frequently brought Nawasa and her mother meals that they had cooked themselves. On several occasions they obtained permission from the hospital to take them to their own homes for weekends. What impressed me about this effort of the Spiritan associates was not only the way they organized the needed help. Although without that Nawasa and others like her would still be in their difficulties. The thing that leaves a lasting impression is the warmth and real caring with which the help was given. There is a young woman in Endulen living a normal life, now with children of her own, who is very grateful to Elfrieda and Anna.
One of my Maasai girls of the Osotwa Maasai Education for Leadership
program in Endulen has now joined Anna in the Help for the Disabled
program. Naado Jumweiya graduated as a registered nurse one year ago.
She did her four years of nurse’s training at Huruma Hospital on Mount
Till next month…