Monday, January 23, 2012

"Do you really love your baby?"

I feel like every day I am in town is a new adventure - and I love it!  There is one particular woman that I see nearly every day I am in town.  I think that most people in Kitale have seen her.  She walks around with a baby strapped to her back while begging for money.  I've never given her money in all my time here.  You may be thinking that's terrible; what about the baby?  But let me explain that while the baby is surely suffering, giving her anything at all does no good for her baby.  In more cases than not when encountering her she smells like alcohol and acts very drunk.  A few weeks ago I was talking with her and asked her if she would like me to help her find a job so she doesn't have to beg anymore.  Her answer was, "no, just give me money".  The past few days I've been seeing her she still comes to me and points to her baby and puts her hand out.

I saw her from down the road a bit today.  I happened to be walking the direction that she was in.  As I walked I saw her elbow her baby in the face to make him cry (because apparently a crying baby gets more sympathy).  It wasn't just one little nudge either.  She wound up and whacked him good.  She then reached around and smacked him a few more times.

Seeing that I decided to stop and give her a talking to.  I tried explaining to her that she can't just hit her baby like that.  A local stopped to translate to make sure that she understood.  I know she speaks and understands English to some degree, still though, it was nice to have someone translate.  As I asked her if she would like someone to elbow her in the face like she just did to her baby all she could do was tell me to give her money.  Yes, she told me to.  She didn't ask - she demanded.

I reminded her of my offer to help her find a job and of her response.  It didn't seem to get through that she is quite capable of working.  Then I asked her a hard question.  "Do you really love your baby?"  I told her that if she really did care for that child in the way that a mother should, she would have taken the opportunity to find a job to support her and her baby.  Again, the answer that came through the one translating was another demand for money as he pointed to the baby.  

I have quite a few friends at home who, in the past couple of years, have become parents.  I am encouraged by a common theme amongst all of them:  sacrifice.  It's so awesome to watch as my friends' lives become more and more about their child.  It's evident how much these parents love their children.  It's evident when they begin giving things that they enjoy up because they desire more to be with their child at night.  Or when they give things up because they are saving money for the baby.  And then I look to this lady in town and I seriously question if she feels anything at all for that baby she carries around.  It seems like that child to her is just a way to tug on peoples' hearts to get more money from them.

I've been accused by a few older street boys of being selfish because I won't hand out money; they say that I have so much and won't help others.  But the truth is that when someone asks for help, I do help.  There is only one person I have peace about giving money for food to and that's my friend Peter that I took to the hospital in December.  Others, who want me to give them money or buy them food I take them to the schools for street kids that will feed them at no charge while proving a free education.  I don't believe that a constant hand out does any good.  In fact, it just ensures that someone remains dependent on me.  It may make me feel good that someone needs me, but it doesn't help them.  I know that I could buy this lady some bread when I see her.  I'm sure that I could afford that.  But would it do any good?  What she needs is an opportunity to support herself.  What her baby needs is a mother who is sober.  And this is what was offered and in turn refused.  As much as it may suck, there comes a point when you realize that you can only help the ones that actually want to be helped.  Right now, this lady doesn't want help.  I pray that one day she truly does want that help.  I pray that she sobers up and starts to be more that a walking stroller to her baby and becomes a mother.

But for now, I'll focus on those who are interested...


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