I came back to this old man 5 days after when I first met him. We were bringing more supplies and making sure he’s okay as he’s in such a fragile state. I asked him if he thought he would see us again. He said, ‘yes I did because you said you were coming back, so I was waiting’. I admire his trust. People have been like that with us. Your word is your bond, so he just expected us to be true to our word. Firstly, I didn’t want to represent him as dirty in the photos and because he could hardly move I asked if we could wash him. He instructed me and my friend to move slowly because his body can’t handle much movement. I asked how long since he had been bathed and he said he couldn’t remember.
The girl in this was standing near by. She kept answering the questions we would ask to him. Like, she said, he can’t eat corn it upsets his stomach. He like potatoes, rice, and spaghetti. We brought him a bunch of supplies, including his favorite tea and a bunch of sugar (helps restore health for those in starvation) and he was very excited and then sternly told this girl to put it away before someone else finds it and takes it from him. This man has seen such hard times. After his village was raided by a warring tribe, his sons all left in search of other ventures. They abandoned him.
I called the girl over and asked how she felt about seeing this old man in this way. She said she felt very bad and then couldn’t continue talking. Her eyes welled up with tears and she was choked up and couldn’t begin to put her pain into words. I asked her if she was concerned that he would die. She said yes. I asked how she knows him, and she said he was her father.
I was shocked. I had no idea. I thought she was too young so I didn’t guess that she could be his child. I asked how old she was. She said six. I thought, there’s no way. I told our translator I think she must be ten. Her dad confirmed, yes she is ten. I asked her if she can keep her dad clean and she said she would. I told her we would make sure he always has food. Her face lit up and the joy I felt from her was as deep as the pain, or perhaps greater. Her joy was so precious, and it felt like that is exactly how things should be. This child’s life should be filled with happiness.
I asked him how long it would take for him to be strong again, and perhaps able to walk (Right now he can only sit up for a few minutes. He can’t put a cup to his mouth without it shaking to the point where he misses his mouth). He said it would take him 2 months. You know it’s funny, that’s how it long it takes for the maize seeds, which is their main staple, to grow from seed to harvest.
We let him know that we would check in with him each week and continue to stock him with supplies. Samal Etubon cares deeply for his people. For the past 6 years I’ve worked with him in Turkana to touch tens of thousands of lives. He’s never let me down.
There’s no way on earth I’m going to let down this little child who I gave my word that I would restore her father to health.
Thank you for your support. It means more than these people can express with words. That’s because life is gift that is beyond words. It’s impossible to describe because it’s beauties are limitless. By your generosity you’ve given life.