Tuesday, August 16, 2011

"It's a hard knock life"

     Yesterday was a really tough day for two reasons...
     Here's the first:
     The morning had started off great.  I had walked over to Ida's to find a baby kitten that couldn't have been more than a few weeks old.  It was ADORABLE!  After admiring it, petting it, holding it, and of course taking pictures of it, I started to realize that this kitten was left to fend for itself.  Meowing fervently in search of its mother, and despite our attempts to feed it rice pouridge, it would not eat.
     Ida saw that the kitten was beginning to distract us from her lesson, spouted off some words in Mandinka to her house mother, and the kitten was swept away and chucked over the barbwire fence into the neighbor's compound.  My jaw dropped, my heart sank, as I continued to listen to the poor thing meow it's little heart out.
The kitten that stole my heart

     I wish I could say the episode ended here, but it continued... After lunch, we took a break and I walked back to my compound to use the facilities.  During my walk I heard something rustling in the bush.  "KITTEN?!?" I meowed in hopes to hear a response, and later regretted doing so.  The tiny kitten meowed back and peeked its head out as it struggled to climb over a log.
     Seeing it was still battling for its life, I ran back to Ida's compound to get a chicken bone from our lunch bowl.  I conferred with Casey on whether feeding the kitten was good or bad considering no one else would, but knew its little meows would haunt me if I didn't.  Taking Casey and the chicken bone, I walked back over to where I last saw the kitten.  Again, I meowed and it called back.  Following the meows, I located the kitten.  In only a glance, I saw the back half of it mangled, and quickly turned my head while setting down the chicken bone.  Dying inside, because there was nothing I could do to help it, there is no vet, and Gambians (in general) do not care about cats, I turned away with a broken heart, only to have it shatter more when coming across yet another kitten fighting for its life along the side of the road.  I, again, ran back to the food bowl to grab some more chicken and fed the white matted ball of fur while swatting at the hovering flies.  I was pleased to see it eat the remaining meat off the bone, but knew it would probably be the last of the kitten's meals.
     As I was on the verge of tears, Casey quickly recalled an article he had read about soldiers who would play games after traumatic situations they had encountered.  Studies had shown that soldiers who would play games after the trauma were less likely to suffer from PST.  Not wanting the poor kittens' cries to haunt us, we returned to Ida's compound for an hour of our usual card game with a naughty name (I'll call it poop-head since I'm unaware of my audience), and we tried our best to get lost in the cards.
     The second:
     That same night, I returned to my compound to sit outside with my family as the sun disappeared and the stars littered the sky.  Nema, Isa, and I started singing our compilation of English and Gambian songs and we all sat enjoying one of our last nights together.  Little did I know that during this time, anger was brewing in Mariama.  It all came out as she shouted furiously at Isa in words I couldn't understand.  Isa's smile disappeared, as she suddenly became still in her chair.  Moments later, Mariama's open hand met the side of Isa's face with such force you would have thought that Mariama trained with Manny Pacquiao.  Isa sank her face into her hands, as shock took over me, and silence settled into the rest.  I couldn't imagine what Isa could have done to deserve such a blow, and after a conversation back and forth with myself about my place in the family, I decided to ask Papa Foday what she had done.  He informed me that Isa had been asked to wash the bowls, and had neglected to do so.  Guilt set in as I realized she was probably trying to soak up one of her last nights with me.
     In the same day, I experienced two things that are the hardest for me to deal with... the treatment of animals and the disciplinary actions used toward children.  As I sat underneath the African sky trying to make sense of it all, I witnessed my second shooting star, and thanks to Michael Stanley, remembered to make a wish.  My wish:  God to use me to model how animals should be treated and alternative ways to discipline children, to stay with me in these difficult times, and to guide and lead me to know when to speak up and when to keep my mouth shut.


  1. That was a wise wish Lacy. God be with you always and comfort you. That was a hard day. Maajam and much love to you.

  2. I think I have his figured out. Your stories brought tears to my heart, too. Will pray for wisdom for you in handling these situations.

  3. Un oh, I am dangerous now...know just enough about posting comments to get myself in trouble...My wish for you in Mandinka (maybe)"timiyaa siiboo!"

    dreams – siiboo
    sweet - diimaa or timiyaa

  4. Thank you, Mama. Mimi, I'll have to ask my host family and get back to you! Thank you. :)

  5. I feel for you, Lacy. May you lead by example, which I know you can do. A gentle showing without words might bring a different awareness and perspective.

  6. Thank you for sharing this difficult day. God bless you... I can only imagine how hard it was. God has put you there for a reason and he will keep you strong.