“Where is Jo-Jo?” I’d circled through the stark malnutrition clinic in Angola with Saving Moses, looking for the struggling little baby that I’d met just before we took a break for lunch. I remembered seeing Jo-Jo’s mom: she was extremely tired and her nerves were obviously frayed. But I was hopeful for Jo-Jo, since she was in our clinic now and could receive some medical care and a steady supply of the malnutrition formula that has kept literally thousands of babies from dying.
I talked with my friends about Jo-Jo over lunch and I was eager return to the clinic and encourage her mom that we would do our level best to help her frail daughter to survive and even thrive. I walked through our clinic again, slower this time, looking for little Jo-Jo in her bright red shirt. I couldn’t find her so I asked our translator to check in with the nurse to see where Jo-Jo was. “Her mom took her and left,” was the nurse’s reply. “We have to find her! She doesn’t stand a chance of surviving without our help! Where’s her file, find her address, call the phone number, let’s go to her house, let DO SOMETHING!!!” I was really upset and I could tell the nurse was also very disturbed. We looked at Jo-Jo’s chart, found a phone number and only the name of the neighborhood where she lived, since Angola doesn’t use an address system like we do in the US. There was no chance of finding her in the neighborhood listed, it was HUGE. When we called the number listed on the chart, there was no answer. So how could we keep trying to find Jo-Jo? Could we send someone to her neighborhood in the very remote chance we’d find her?
We did this and we kept calling the phone number, but we never found Jo-Jo and given the extremely frail state of her little body, I would suppose that she died. This has really bothered me for a very long time because Jo-Jo’s mom seemed to have given up all hope for her daughter to live. What kind of hell does a mom go through to get to the point of giving up hope for her baby to live? Could I have been more sensitive to the mom’s exhausted state? What would I do differently in this situation for the future?
Some things are deeply disturbing and this is probably a good thing because such experiences can interrupt our comfortable living and provoke us to bring genuine love and life to the world in which we live. Let’s keep looking for ways to let God love the world through us.