It’s been almost a month since I first wrote about Brian. There have been many new developments, and the full story is long so I’m breaking it up into two posts.
Brian, an abandoned 11 year old boy claimed his mother poisoned him and left for Kenya. We met him in the hospital here in Mbale, close to death. So much has happened since then with this kid. He was in the hospital for two weeks, had surgery, and then he came to live with us as he recovered. (Read more in my post titled “Brian’s Story). We had an open guestroom complete with a twin bed and dinosaur blanket, so it just made sense to give him a safe place to be and the company of loving people. The first night we brought him home we realized he had never brushed his teeth – ever. So, we bought him a toothbrush and Sally gave him lessons on what to do. It was a team effort, as we all took turns giving him his medicine, coloring with him, and tucking him in at night. It all sounded like a good idea until we realized how hard it actually was to keep up with him. It actually made it harder to have so many people looking after him, because there wasn’t just ONE “parent” responsible for keeping up with everything.
Christine, the nurse who first told us about Brian’s background, is a good friend of Carlos and Carolina’s, and sometimes comes to our house to babysit their daughter Isabella. One evening she sat with Brian and asked him some questions about his past. As it turns out, the story about the mother poisoning him wasn’t true. He had been so hungry that he took a pastry from a village store, and the store keeper kicked him to chase him away, which most likely contributed to the pain he was in when he first went to the hospital. I think he was probably ashamed to tell the truth because he knew that he shouldn’t have taken the pastry. Or maybe we still don’t know the real story.
As Christine talked more with Brian, she realized that she knew his family. The grandfather, a drunkard; was the primary guardian. His distant relatives had threatened him and didn’t care at all about his well – being. Brian’s mother had been in Kenya for a few years with his little sister. He never knew the father. As Brian described his family situation, even though he doesn’t speak English, I could tell from his body language how sad his life had been. His body was tense as he twisted the stretchy bracelet on his arm tighter and tighter the more his story came out.
From the first day Brian was at our house, we quickly realized that this kid was HUNGRY. He had been malnourished for a long time, so I think he wanted to make up for all that lost time. He was eating often, and was happy and smiling, so we were hopeful his recovery was going well. One afternoon things got a little scary. Brian’s stomach seemed to grow throughout the day, until by afternoon his belly was extremely distended and he began complaining of stomach pain. He began to cry and we were all freaked out until the pediatrician that lives with us came and talked him through it. He had a bad buildup of gases that were causing him an extreme amount of discomfort.
After things calmed down and we could think straight, it became obvious that we needed one person to be his “mother” and take the responsibility of feeding him and monitoring his eating. As we began to discuss, and person after person was eliminated as a candidate, it became obvious that I was the person left for the job. Kind of crazy considering I have NO experience with kids. Even though we continued to be careful with his diet, Brian had a few more episodes with stomach pain. The last one was so bad we took him back to the hospital again. There were three of us there, so I stepped out of the emergency room to get some air and it hit me. The overwhelming sadness of the situation with this boy had me in tears. I began to understand what it was like to be a mother and care for a sick child. I sat in the chair outside the room and listened to him screaming as they put a tube in his nose and into his stomach.
An X Ray and a scan showed that there was a blockage between his stomach and intestines that wasn’t allowing proper digestion of food. The doctor’s recommendation was another surgery to create a new passage from the stomach to the intestines. It was time to make a decision and nobody was quite sure what to do. Due to circumstances beyond our control, the surgeon left early for a few days trip to Kampala, so the only option was to keep Brian in the hospital, wait, and pray. So that’s what we did. Many of you have been praying for him, and your prayers are being answered. It is so obvious how much God loves this boy. During his time in the hospital, people have been coming out of nowhere to pray over him. Our cook Phionah stayed with Brian at nights, and my other friend Phiona, stayed with him most of the daytime hours. The two Phiona’s have made sacrifices in their own lives to care for a boy they hardly know. I am continually in awe of the faith, boldness, and selflessness of Ugandan believers.
Phiona brought her son Shakim to the hospital so Brian would have a kid his own age to keep him company. Shakim followed Brian around all day and insisted that I sit and rest while he looked after the patient.
Story to be continued….