Today I heard about the death of Bura-Ang, one of our special needs children. She died on Friday, May 24, 2013, in her home in one of the sub-villages of Kalsagri. Bura-Ang was born with Cerebral Palsy. Here, she would have been called a "baby snake." As time went on, Bura-Ang was able to stand all by herself. The last time I saw her, she haltingly walked to me. She always had a smile on her face.
I was told that she crawled to a big iron water pot, pulled herself up, lost her footing and fell in. She drowned. It was an accident. I have seen these pots. They are HUGE! I can picture a small child grasping it and then falling if not sure-footed. Her father told us a different story. He said she was shivering, shivering, shivering...and then just died. Which, to me, sounds like malaria.
You see, here in the Upper West, most people are Traditionalists. Fear is a big part of the survivors lives because it is believed that these special needs or "malformed" children have evil spirits. And, when they die, where does that evil spirit go? Everyone in the family is afraid that it will go to them. Plus, a young child like this is not grieved. There is no funeral. And it is part of the tradition to bury right away, as soon as the grave is hand dug. Death is a part of life all too often.
As I sat with the family, I was able to share what the Bible says about "these little ones," heaven and the hope we have in Christ. I don't know if I was heard or not, but, it HAD to be said.
On the way home, I contemplated the paradox of this death. The mother wants to grieve. Bura-Ang was her child. Angelina (the mother) loved her. Yet, on the other hand, there is no place for a special needs child in this culture. What would become of the child? How will she live? So, a part of what is being felt is relief. Love...relief. What a combination! Yet, a part of every day life.
I pray seeds will be planted, doors will be opened, and just as this little girl is dancing before Jesus, I pray her family will come to know Him and some day dance before the King of kings!