Thursday, 4 March 2010


This isn't one I want to write. Nor do I know where to begin.

Last week I was waiting to pick someone up from the local hospital when I was approached by a man reading the side of the car--"Orphans?". He worked at the hospital, and told me about a little ten year-old girl inside that he and his wife had informally adopted as their own. Mina, he told me, was "a true orphan -- no ma, no pa. HIV positive." The orphanage at which she'd been living dropped her off at the hospital but didn't come back to check on her. So he would visit her when he had the chance, and asked me to look in on her too.

This was one of those times when I'm tempted to be too busy, to brush it off. Then I thought, Well, why not. Maybe I can encourage her a little. And so I walked into the paeds ward and immediately saw her way at the back, sitting hunched over on her bed. Her face didn't brighten when she saw that I was coming to see her, nor did she respond to me except to murmur. The head nurse came over and asked why she wasn't eating, why she wasn't talking. Nothing.

I've never seen such a discouraged child, no matter how sick. And Mina was definitely sick. So I consulted the American doctor handling her case, to see what her outlook might be. I was told she'd be in the hospital for a good long time, but that she needed to start eating and taking her meds. The doctor's biggest concern, though, was her attitude--that she was severely depressed.

Got a call that little Mina, with no parents or siblings, died over the weekend. She just gave up.

This is Africa. This happens. There was nothing that could be done. All of these are inappropriate. No, ridiculous. No ten year-old should, for lack of love and care, no matter what the prognosis, give up like she did. It was staggering.

I'm not angry or sad about this, I'm just...disappointed. And I'm trying to leverage that disappointment into a new commitment. I don't expect more than a handful of strangers have even noticed her passing, but now you can join me in remembering her.


Sarah said...

Thank you for saying, "why not," thank you for sharing the invitation, we join you in remembering Mina.
The Bellews

Gordon said...

Mina is precious and will not be forgotten. We love you, Andrew, and pray that God will continue to keep you both strong and tender. Dad

Sabrina said...

Now that I know her story, I'll remember Mina too.

~ Sabrina

Maybeth said...

Thank you for sharing this, Andrew. So hard to think of her being so lonely. Thank you for not being 'too busy'.
Remembering Mina and crying for her - and praying for you and the team there in your happy and sad moments.

Jeremy and Kamina Johnson said...

awe. Thank you for caring for the Minas in Liberia.

Beth said...

Thank your for the reminder that every child is "vulnerable", particularly in Liberia and so so valuable. Praying for Mina and all her Liberian brothers and sisters every day and for your work there.

Shiva said...

Thank you for sharing it Andrew. From deep south in New Zealand. Shiva

Sarah said...

Disappointment... I struggle the most with this emotion.

Your ability to use those emotions as "leverage" is why I am confident that you can find the happiness and hope among the disappointment and sadness in your life there.

-Sarah Tietje

eii said...

Thank you for sharing this difficult story and for providing me with a harsh reminder of this cold reality. I will remember Mina.
Emmalee (LOEP)

Georgie said...

I live in the US, but followed Mina's progress through the organization that took her to the hospital. She had been with them for 4 years because of the abandonment by the family. During her illness, they could not get the family to come and visit. She lived well the 4 years prior and was a happy, chubby little girl. Thanks for taking time to visit her. She is remembered by some who really care.