Time Will Tell
When poverty in Africa is mentioned in the media we are often bombarded with photos of starving children. These photos touch our hearts to inspire us to give money towards a cause; but when we see too many photos of emaciated children we tend to criticize the organization and say that they are trying to manipulate us into giving more money.
I have taken my own photos of starving children in Africa. These are children who have crossed my path and touched my heart on missions trips with Seeds Of Hope in Zambia. I know that my motives have been altruistic, there are people who can never travel to Zambia themselves to witness first hand the poverty that has been overwhelming, I want to show them in photos. I also don't want to forget.
Photos help to communicate the great need
It is hard to tell you what it feels like to hold an 11 lb child who is two years old, to put a diaper on him that is meant for a newborn - and have that diaper be too big for him. I've stroked the swollen ankles of the child who's body is fighting in one last battle to save the internal organs and I've rubbed my hands along the bumps of his spine and ribs. I've tried to feed the little one with a milk, sugar and egg mixture to get the nutrients into his dehydrated body; and then I've watched that child take its last breath. How can I take a photo of what it feels like to bury that child, a child who has died of starvation?
The images in my memory are greater
than any photo I have ever taken
|Maggie and I with Peter Marcus|
Thankfully some of these children have been saved. We have "before" photos of the children when they first arrive, then after some time has passed the "after" photos tell the story of hope.
And that's why I was so pleased to have this photo taken a couple of weeks ago when I was in Zambia to set up a library (blog post about this will come).
This is a photo of me with my friend Maggie. I met Maggie 10 years ago on one of my missions trips to Ndola. She was working with a group of volunteers who would visit the sick in their compound (township). Over the years we have kept in touch and when I go to Zambia we usually see each other. Maggie and I have some things in common, we are both mothers and we have both lost family members to AIDS and we are connected through Seeds of Hope. Together Maggie and I have helped a few children.
|Saskia with Peter Marcus in February 2009|
In 2009 my family stayed in Zambia for two months. We asked Maggie if she knew of any children who needed help. She said she knew of a baby who was doing poorly, she introduced us to his mother who was willing for us to help her son. My family took this little boy in, and he did look like the child in all those starving baby pictures. The day he arrived my daughter Saskia took care of him staying up with him all night so that she could feed him small spoonfuls of high protein milk. By morning Peter Marcus had already improved. Gradually he gained his strength back, he started to smile and respond to our family and he began to eat regular food.
Peter Marcus stayed with us while we were in Zambia and he eventually moved into the Buseko Children's Home where he lived for a year. Eventually his mother missed him so much that she took him home with her.
|He loved the apple|
That was 3 1/2 years ago--this year, in October, I was in Zambia and I was reminiscing with one of the caregivers who remembered when Peter Marcus came to Buseko. I mentioned that I would love to see him. So we arranged for Maggie to bring him to meet me. And there he was, no longer a starving baby, but a healthy looking little boy. He had no clue who I was, and it didn't really matter, he was a bit shy to see me until I gave him an apple and then his face lit up.