Wednesday, June 8, 2011


I had Maureen come to the house today so we could catch up on how the kids in Kabanana are doing , speak more to Patrick and Protasho and also I had hoped the 2 boys from Bauleni that came by the few times would be back. I had told them to come today but the day has come and gone and they never showed up. I was planning to have Maureen go to their home and speak with the grandmother and find out more of their situation. But that will have to wait for another time.

It was still a good day. We were able to speak to Protasho and Patrick for about an hour about their home situation, family, etc. I think it went really well and I am so thankful for the opportunity we have had to have them here in our home. I think they felt like they were comfortable enough to talk some even as they fidgeted with things and it was apparent that it was hard to discuss some things. I asked them a few questions but then Maureen just followed their lead in what they were wanting to talk about.

First though I asked them to tell her what we did on Saturday and protasho's face lit up he gave a huge grin and then started reeling in Nyanja about how good the day was. ( I was able to pick that much up). That was such a delight to see and hear. I knew they had fun but to see him remembering it and talking about it. Then they talked about last night we ate pizza and he had ice cream for the very first time. "It was very nice" he said.
We took them to a play place with a playground and a jumping castle and they had a blast! It was so fun to watch them.

We found out today that they used to live in kapiri, but moved 4 years ago. Their mom and their stepdad quarreled all the time and so she finally ended up leaving and moving away. Since that time she has had a problem drinking and getting drunk all the time. Protasho said she is a good woman when she is not drunk. Problem is as Patrick said, she can't Not drink. She is verbally abusive, says hateful mean things to the boys when she is drunk and will send them out of the house whenever she wants. She used to "entertain" men in her home often. Recently the stepdad and her have gotten back together and so the stream of men coming in has not been as it once was. The stepdad drinks as well and he too gets very mean and says things about the boys not being his and kicking them out of the house.

When they leave the home they usually go stay with a friend Mutale. Come to find out they actually only spent one night alone outside. ( That is still one too many, but the story has become more clearer).

Protasho does piece work (odd jobs) mostly fetching and carrying water for people. When we asked about his extended family, relatives that could possibly take them in there was really no viable option. He explained the situations with older sister or auntie, all of which have "chased" away his younger sister Maggie. Which means that they certainly would not be welcoming of two more boys into their home.

Protasho had a twin brother. This brother died when he was young and since that time for whatever the reason, the younger sister Maggie has been his "twin". Or that is what they have told people. I really don't know why the mother would tell them to make this story up, but that is what it is.

When we asked, what if we could find a family in the church that they go to, that would take them in, Protasho replied that he didn't think his mother would let them go. A holiday is one thing, but to go permanently wouldn't happen.
He does the fetching of their water and the cooking for the family, especially when the mom is drunk which again he said is every day.

It was heartbreaking to see them sitting there talking about their life, what is normal to them -things that no child should ever have to think about, worry about or even sit and discuss with someone else. How their mom treats them, to see the them stare off into the distance, look down, fidget and speak about their mom. How they have not even missed her, how they don't want to go back…

When I was teaching Protasho on Monday I noticed him squinting while copying words for handwriting. The paper he was looking at was right in front of him. So I later asked him about his eyes, and did it seem fuzzy, etc.
When Maureen came today we asked him some more questions and he mentioned that he had a white spot in the center of his pupil on his right eye, and that it "pained him" when he was outside in the sun.
So I took him to an optometrist. A real one. I could have gone to the local clinic, sat there all day , then been referred to another clinic or the hospital in town then referred somewhere else, and on and on. So we went to the local optometrist that I would go to if I needed an exam and the exam part was free.

We walked in and sat down. An indian woman ( as in from INDIA) was the doctor. She called us back to the room. I motioned for Protasho to come with me and he sat in the chair and they turned off the lights and she started speaking to him in english. "What is the problem?". I stopped her right there and then explained what I knew of the problem and asked her if she spoke nyanja. No. Then she said well you already explained the situation so lets just continue. I asked her if we could bring in the man at the desk that spoke nyanja to translate. She said ok and called him in. He then translated the steps and what she needed him to do. Chin here, forehead here, look this way..etc
Then she told me that he had oppositing in his right eye. I really had no clue what she was saying on top of not being able to even understand her english. She proceeded to say there's nothing to do so lets move on to the left eye and see. I really almost thought to ask the man to translate for me, then realized that might seem offensive to ask him to translate her english into english so I could understand. Did make me realize though that I am comfortable with the "Zambian english" and I get it. ( Moreso than chinese english or indian english)

So they then asked him to read the letters on the chart.
Normally for a 14, almost 15 year old boy this would be the easiest part of the exam.
It wasn't. They asked me what grade he was in, and I explained he is being tutored and not yet in school.
he knows most of the letters but not clear enough and in that situation to say them to know how his eyesight is.

Then they asked if he could read numbers. He said yes and so they scrolled down to the numbers part of the screen. Putting different lenses and asking which one was clearer and to read them again.
I can only imagine how stressful and strange this must have been to him. I get stressed trying to decide which one, A or B, lens 1 or 2, is clearer. Add to that the heavy contraption-like "glasses" that they were putting on his face and placing the lenses on.

After all that was finished I again asked the woman what she meant about the right eye "oppositing".
He can't even see out of his right eye. He must have had an injury or even dust to his eye that scratched around years ago and that eye can not reflect the rays of light and it causes him pain when it is bright and sunny outside.
So she explained to me that his left eye is weak and with glasses worn all day every day it should get stronger but he needs to continually wear them also to protect his eye, because that left one is all he has.

I asked her about the "oppositing" and she said that the only thing that could be done is a cornea transplant, which obviously can't happen. So hopefully over time his one "good" eye will get better so he can see clearer again.

We picked out some frames and the man spoke in nyanja to him.
It was sad to see the lack of empathy and care from the woman doctor, when she realized he didn't know English and he was not "educated". I could feel it and I can say I HATE it.
Almost makes me want to go back and ask for the translater for her english...

When we got back to the house, I asked him to explain to Maureen what the dr. said to make sure he understood. He didn't quite catch it all because he thought he only had to wear them until 12 noon each day.
I then could see he was not happy and was thinking he was not going to wear them. I then explained to Maureen that the glasses were expensive and so I want him to make sure he wears them. Well something got lost in translation and then he was worried about the expense. I told him no, I don't care about the money, I just want you to know that you need to wear them and take care of them. Then I explained how it would feel awkward at first but then after a while you will like wearing them because you will be able to see so much better.

So, we go tomorrow to pick the spectacles up ( that is what they call them ) and then we will see how it goes.
My hope is that he will really wear them all the time. I told him he looked "smart" in them, which means smart as we would say it and then also "handsome or cool"- so doubly smart!

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