Zoe’s Little Life

I have finally arrived back in Yei, South Sudan after a few travel delays due to extended layovers in Egypt and weather (lots of rain making roads extremely muddy) in South Sudan.  The children all came running and screaming when we drove up to the compound and knocking me down with their hugs.  They really miss me when I go because I give them treats every Saturday and show them movies on my computer via projector and I meet with the older ones twice a week every week.  So, when I am gone it’s like there are some empty spots in their ordinary week.  I miss them too.

On my journey back to Yei I stayed in Juba South Sudan for two days with my friend Cathy who is Ugandan.  She has a girl’s center where she has taken in about 40 girls who were living on the streets and some were working in prostitution at the age of 13.  She also travels the poor areas looking for widows she can help.  Juba is the capital city and it is steeped in poverty, so many live on the streets there.  One of the poor ladies has two sets of twins and two other children.  She digs through the garbage each day to find food for her children.  She isn’t all there mentally and we think that she gets taken advantage of or sells her body for food.  She just had another baby who is now about two months old.  Her name is Zoe.

Cathy found Zoe a month ago almost dead.  She weighed 4.4 pounds at a month old.  She had no meat on her frame and it was so bad that she had open sores where her hip bones were rubbing the underside of her skin raw.  Her leg was the size of my thumb.  I saw her the night before I left for Egypt as we went to the hospital to help bathe her and bring her formula and clean water.  I came back from Egypt ten days later and Zoe is now living with Cathy because the hospital kicked the mother out because she was too dirty and wouldn’t watch her twins who were running around and making a mess on the floor.  Remember, when mother is sick she has to keep her kids in the hospital with her.

Well, Zoe was struggling to breathe and they don’t do oxygen here.  No equipment.  Neither do they have incubators, and they don’t even feed intravenously so Zoe was not doing very well.  I got to spend an entire day and evening babysitting little Zoe and praying over her.  Every breath is labor intensive for her.  She can only drink a little at a time as she can’t breath well enough to drink strongly.  This little girl is such a fighter.  She cries when you hold her and move her around.  I think her bones actually hurt because she is so malnourished.  She will get better because Cathy has done this for a little boy who is now so very healthy and happy.

It makes my heart break to see these things every day in third world countries.  There are no government programs here.  These people literally lay on the street and die if someone doesn’t help them.  The western world is so extremely blessed, even the poor, because there are programs available where people don’t have to suffer like this.  Each day I give thanks for God’s mercy concerning me and all that I do have.

As I finished typing this update I have just learned that Zoe died yesterday.  She was sleeping with Cathy in her bed and crying.  Cathy woke up and as she looked into her eyes, Zoe breathed her last.  Another typical day in South Sudan where life is hard and death is standing at every door.  Sometimes I wonder if it isn’t more merciful that they die than to have to live the lives that many of them live.  I can’t let myself go there because I know that every life is important to God and He truly does have a good plan for each one.  We also have our part in it all and we do what we can.  God bless you Zoe.