KRB Update #2172 – 1st White Man to Visit Their Village Keith R. Brinkman December 28, 2011
$3.97 – Can of Deluxe Nuts – Walmart
138,000 leones – transportation – shared taxi, motorbikeSeeing Kalimu running towards me after I entered his village … priceless
Many of you will remember reading my KRB Update #2169 – entitled Kalimu – one of our cleft lip patients. I shared his story and that of his granny. She brought him for registration for surgery while our Screening Team visited Kenema in January of this year. Once she got the surgery appointment, she brought the boy to Freetown for his surgery.
I wanted to stay in touch with them, but she didn’t have a mobile phone number, but another patient named Sylvester said he knew where they lived in town and would check on them. I called and called and always got the message ‘out of network area or turned off’. I wasn’t worried about his recovery, but really wanted to know how he was doing. Our days in Sierra Leone were limited, so I decided I would go and visit them. I understood they lived in the town of Kenema as she gave me a street and house number. When I got to the area, I met many from the family, but they shared the news that granny and Kalimu lived in the village. When I asked how long it would take to get to the village, the aunt thought it would be one hour by motorbike. She shared that her brother, Ibrahim, has a motorbike and so we got him on the phone and asked for a price quote. So off we went, after about 45 minutes, we arrived in Gbado and his elder brother joined us as he knew where the village was located. Ibrahim had never been to the village and I wondered as he said they were all family, but I learned later that their father had 70 children from 3 legal wives and 7 other women. When we were leaving Gbado, a man came running calling my name. His name is Amadu and he was with his son Abdul in our hospital for his son’s surgery. I never knew where they lived.
We continued down the road/path and I had no clue how long it would take. As the path got narrower, there were many times we had to get off the motorbike and hike ourselves as it was too rough and steep for all three of us on the motorbike. After an hour from Gbado and through the community of Dodo, we finally made it to a village where we left the motorbike and started the hike to the village, crossing many ant trails, a bamboo bridge and trying not to step again in mud as I did that earlier. No one could spell the name of the village – though they shared that the village name means ‘Under the Palm Tree’. When we got to the village, they offered us a stool to sit down on, no sooner had a sat down, when out of the corner on my eye, I saw this boy running full speed towards me, it was Kalimu. It was so great to see the boy again, soon his granny followed. They couldn’t believe I came to visit. He looked so good and his lip was completed healed.
While they were with us on the ship, another fact was lost in translation: the boy is not in a Christian school, though he is attending the government village school. Thankfully I brought a can of deluxe nuts from Walmart and was able to present that to the village elders as that is an African custom of bringing nuts. Plus I had candy which I gave granny to share with all the children. I let Kalimu use my camera to take photos (or ‘snaps’ as they call it) – they loved taking snaps and looking at them on the display on the back. I walked around and got to see their village, the population of about 80 people. He lives with his granny, which is somewhat the custom also as his parents live in another village about seven mile walk from their village, so we were not able to visit them.
I learned from the village elders that they were pleased with my visit and shared that I was the first white man to ever come to their village. Wow!!! I am so thankful for the hour I got to spend together with them. I spoke words of life and encouragement over his life and believe that some things/seeds of ‘Papa God’ were planted in his and granny’s lives. About twenty of them walked with us to the next village where we left the motorbike, I said my goodbyes for now and started the long journey back. I was away from the ship for 17 hours – spent one hour in town with his extended family and one hour in the village, but it was worth it all. I shared with them that “my heart is gladi gladi”