WATCHING HIS CHILD DIE WAS KILLING HIM.
All through the night his daughter’s fever would rage and then suddenly she would shake violently with chills. Her small head throbbed with a stabbing pain that made her cry incessantly. At times she seemed to be slipping away, but then she would fight back and be with him again, only to endure more suffering. Each time she closed her beautiful brown eyes he feared she would never open them again. Her tiny body was continually racked by spasms of agony, but there was nothing he could do except hold her. From time to time she cried out for her dead mother, but it was wasted breath.
She was only three and yet she had already suffered so much in her short life. Her body was ravaged by hunger. Her time on this earth had been filled with constant sickness. Several times he had almost lost her. But each time she had become ill, she had fought valiantly to stay alive against overwhelming odds. But not this time. She had been worn down by the repeated misery of poverty. Without immediate medical help and nutritious food she had no chance.
In the area where they lived, death permeated the air. He saw it everyday on the faces of other adults who had lost their children. The pain was raw and unending. Some simply gave up and soon joined their deceased loved ones. A sense of desperation was everywhere. The frustration of not being able to care for your children was overwhelming. There was no where to turn. There was no help available……The man had heard rumors of great countries in the West that would send food and medicine to Africa, but he had never actually witnessed such a thing. At the age of 26 the misery in his life had been unrelenting. But the pain his daughter was going through now was breaking his heart. However, she was just one of many – too many to count – who was facing death all because of a simple mosquito bite. Malaria preyed on the young and weak. His daughter was the perfect victim.
As he stared into her soft brown eyes, tears filled his. Why couldn’t someone help her? Wasn’t there anyone who could send medicine? He would gladly pay them back for the rest of his life. He was sure someone would help if they only knew how sweet and smart his little girl was……But there would be no help, just as there was no help for his beautiful wife and infant son when the birth became difficult and both mother and child died. And now his fragile little girl, who was all he had left in the world, was slipping through his fingers.
He had struggled with all his might to take care of his pregnant wife and their small daughter, but the devastating challenges of extreme poverty were over powering. The area where they lived was suffering through a severe drought that had lasted for several years. Various militias clashed repeatedly over territory, with civilians often caught in the crossfire. The constant fighting had created thousands of refugees. These factors all combined to produce hunger and disease on a scale that he could not fight. He often felt ashamed that he could not provide for his family. His dignity had been stripped away. When his wife and son died he knew it was his fault for not being able to get them medical care. And now it was happening again. His precious little girl was dependent on him for everything, but he could not provide anything. The guilt he felt as a father was unbearable. He didn’t understand the disease that was killing her, but he knew that there must have been something he could’ve done to prevent it. He was suppose to take care of her. He was suppose to protect her. But now he was holding her and watching her die.
His cherished daughter would soon become another faceless statistic of extreme poverty. She would be one of the millions of dead children that year under the age of five. As he held her tightly for what would be the last time, people on the other side of the world were shopping in malls, eating at nice restaurants and going back to their comfortable homes to watch 200 cable channels, none of which would tell the story of his little girl. Perhaps her life meant nothing to those in far off lands, but to him it meant everything. He did not think he could go on without her. Losing the last member of his family was the final outrage of a life filled with sorrow.
It was dawn. The sun was just barely visible on the horizon when his little girl took her last breath. She died in his arms. As he cradled her lifeless body and stroked her hair he sobbed as he thought about how he would never see her smile again or hear her laugh. She was gone and so was all the love and possibilities she could have brought to the world. The anguish he felt was more than any human could stand. His world was shattered, his spirit was crushed. Everyone he loved was dead. His weeping slowly became a loud cry of anger. How could this keep happening? Why had his family been singled out for such misery? What had they done to deserve such suffering?…… WHY COULDN’T SOMEONE HELP THEM?
His little girl had closed her eyes for the last time. It was the heartbreaking end of her all too brief time in this life.
25,000 OTHER CHILDREN CLOSED THEIR EYES FOR THE LAST TIME THAT SAME DAY, AS AN UNCARING WORLD PAID NO NOTICE.