Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Dead Land

I thought the trip to Chavuna-Chinjawa should take about three hours. I was told the road out of Mazabuka would take us very close to the village of Ana's birth. Either I was wrong in my understanding of the word, close, or I made a wrong turn. It is kind of hard to take a wrong turn when there are no other roads to take. Well anyway, the road eneded at a large outcropping of stone with bolders the size of large balls. There would be no more driving from this point. As Donna and I sat in the truck pondering our situation we saw a young man walking towards us from across a field.

He greeted us with the usual Tonga smile and friendly spirit. He asked us if we needed any help. I wonder what he thought as he saw the two of us sitting in my truck, not going anywhere. We told him we were on our way to Chavuna-Chinjawa, where Ana was born. He told us that he knew of the village and would be happy to show us the way. It didn't take long for us to get our things together; water for formula and some for us, a clean diaper, made from a towell, and Donna's chitangi. Soon Donna had Ana on her in the chitangi and we where on our way to the village of Ana's birth.

The walk looked like it would take us over gently rolling hills and dried out grassland. Actually the rolling hills were quite larger and the walk was going to be long. After walking for about an hour I asked our friend to take a short break, under the guise of Ana needing something. While we sat for a minute I asked our friend why he was always looking in the trees and scrub bushes. His answer was short and to the point; nasty snakes liked the trees and brush. I kinda wished I didn't ask.

We started out again and our friend told us we should be to the village in about an hour. The walk from that point was a little more anxious for me. What would the village be like? What would the family be like? We knew there were other children. Dominick, Ana's birth father, told us he had several children. His remarks about wanting Ana back after she was healthy and a year old, still haunted me. We had a lot of people praying for us and Ana. Donna had asked her mom and friends to have prayer for Ana and her future. I was sure many people across Michigan were praying for her young life.

We approached the village and the children started running towards us. Their pointing at us and running around was a bit of a surprise. As we walked into the village the adults gathered arounf and we began the greetings and introductions. The extended family, from the eldest gramma to the youngest child stood in a line. I began greeting, in pretty lousy tonga, the mothers and then the children, Donna followed me, in much better tonga. It probably took more than a minute to greet everybody.

After the greetings we sat down and began to talk with the adults. Thay all remarked at how beautiful the baby was and how much care she was getting from Donna and Hilary. As I sat and listened I was shocked by the surroundings. The land around the village was barren, grassless and dry. The small bit of corn that was planted was dead, evidence of the drought that burnt the land and cast hundreds into their village graves. Two little children, I would learn they were Ana's half brother and sister, were ill. Her half brother was almost totally blind, due to meseals. Her half sister was malnoourished and had lost her hair.

How could Donna and I live with ourselves knowing the conditions these people lived in? How could we survive the pain if she had to come back to the village and face the peril?

This was the first of our visits to the land of Ana's birth.

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