Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Chapter 3: What does a young girl do when she is desperate and has no options?
From the age of 12 to 16 Nomsa moved from house to house, never feeling safe, never feeling loved. She changed schools as often as she changed homesteads and was always wearing someone’s leftover school uniform from the last school she attended. She was ostracized, laughed at and made fun of. Children all around the world can be so cruel. After a long grueling period living alone with no food she found refuge in Manzini with her half-brother’s daughter. Here is what she shared with me.
“My half-brother’s daughter was living with her friend in Manzini and neither of them worked, but they had beautiful clothes and shoes. They would always have food and new clothes and I was shocked and wondered where they get all that money from? One day they took me out for breakfast and told me it was time to buy my own clothes and food and be a good looking lady. Hey! That next night they gave me some of their nice clothes to wear and took me out to the clubs in Manzini. I was “recruited” and shown every trick in the book. That night I became a “magician”.
“I met a guy who I think was a very good magician. He was a soldier by profession and he impregnated me. When I told him I was pregnant he gave me money and told me to get an abortion so that we could continue to enjoy ourselves freely. I told my friends and they agreed that I should get an abortion and said it was as easy as A-B-C, they had all done it before, not once, but several times. I was really scared because I am from a family who knows God and I used to go to church and I knew very well that it was wrong and that God would not be happy. I had already done so many things that I am ashamed of, and even though I was a sinner I decided NOT THIS TIME. I decided that my only choice was to move back to my family homestead. I didn’t know how to start life again, but at least I would sleep and wake up without anyone telling me to do more sins. I had had enough. Life was hard, but I had to make the right choice.
“Nine months later when it was time for me to give birth I went to the hospital, but I knew that had no money to pay the hospital bill after I gave birth. But they admitted me anyway because I was bleeding. I had no labor pain, but the doctor told me I had to have a Cesarean Section, so they operated that morning and I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. I called his father, but he made it clear that he was not willing to talk to me or care for me, or the baby. The hospital keeps you for a week after having a Cesarean Section so I was there and I remember being in terrible pain and crawling to and from the toilet one day. I can’t really remember what happened after that but I remember sleeping on my bed and thinking I had been thrown in to an iceland without clothes. Hey, I was sweating like I was doing roadwork! They sent me for a scan and they saw blood clots so they operated to remove the clots and then closed me up again, but things got worse. They took me back for another operation, but by then I was very sick and thin, but the nurses were very kind and helped me with the baby when I was too weak to hold him.
“After a long time I started to feel strong and was ready to leave the hospital, but the bill was R950 (approximately $110 US) and I didn’t have that kind of money, not even a penny so there was no way to leave the hospital. They sent me to another room to sleep on the floor with another woman who couldn’t pay her bill. We had to stay there until we paid, but the Lord touched my half-brother and after a month he came and paid my bill and I was allowed to leave. It was really an unforgettable moment. I went back home with my baby, but there was nothing to eat, no candles to light and I was too weak to walk to the dam and fetch water with my baby on my back. Life was difficult for us and I didn’t know if we would live or die. After almost one year passed my brother came back home and told me he was going to send my son to “his people” to be cared for and he promised to pay for me to go back to school. He took my baby away, but then refused to pay my school fees so I couldn’t go back to school.
“I was alone again and didn’t know what to do other than go and get my baby back. When I arrived at that homestead I found that my son was living with an old woman whom my brother had promised to pay monthly for the child’s care, but he had not paid her and so she refused to give me my baby until she had been paid. There was nothing I could do, but go and look for a job. I found a job and began working, but I only got enough money to buy a little food, not enough to get my son.
“Janine, my son is now six years old and I know for sure that this old woman is not taking good care of him and she is destroying him. She takes him to Shebeens (illicit bar or club where excisable alcoholic beverages were sold without a licence) and I know that she now has him drinking illegally brewed alcohol. Janine, I must get better and I must get out of this hospital so that I can go back and get my son away from this woman before she totally destroyed.”
Nomsa has Multipledrug-Resistant Tuberculosis and has been in the hospital since early December 2012. I am currently reading an excellent book called “Mountains Beyond Mountains” where Dr. Paul Farmer explains, “A person with active TB of the lungs harbors of millions of bacteria, enough to ensure that a small number will be mutants impervious to anti-TB drugs. In a patient who gets only one antibiotic or inadequate doses of several, or who takes the medicines erratically or for too short a time, the drug-susceptible bacilli may die off while the drug-resistant mutants flourish. The patient becomes a site of rapid bacterial evolution, with drugs supplying the selective pressure. In the gravest cases, patients end up infected with bacilli that cant’ be killed by the two most powerful drugs. Medical science reserves a special name for tuberculosis of that sort – Multidrug-Resistant TB, MDR by abbreviation. It is a scary disease, and a serious problem wherever it appears, but worst, of course, in the places with the fewest resources to deal with it.”
All that being said, I will tell you today that Nomsa is getting healed in front of my very eyes. During my Wednesday visit we sat out under a tree in the shade for almost an hour and we laughed and we cried as she shared her life story with Chloe and me. She is putting on weight, she is able to walk down the stairs without assistance and she walked 50 feet to the tree without resting. This young woman makes me laugh and I love spending time with her. One minute she is so determined, and then the next minute so very sad, but I know that God is at work in her heart and in her life as He is at work in mine.
I stand in faith with Nomsa that she will be healed and leave the hospital long before the expected 8-12 months (which would be August – December 2013). We started talking about where she would go and what she would do and while she didn’t have many ideas for her future, she now is starting to dream of a life and a future filled with love, joy, happiness, peace and purpose. I bring her books, magazines and newspapers to read to keep her mind sharp and focused, and while she does read them, she always tells me that she prefers reading her bible. Each week she asks me very politely if I could bring a bible for this patient or a bible for that patient and I laugh. Of course I will bring them, they are in storage ready to be shared. Last week when she handed the bibles out to the patients they all cheered and then started reading. It was late in the afternoon and at midnight they got in trouble from the night nurses for still having their lights on so they could read. LOL. She brings me joy and I am so thankful for her life.