Enclosed you will find a letter here, written by my friend Kristin's sister, Kassie. Kassie is doing amazing work with the Peace Corps in Togo, Africa. This is her story of a beautiful baby girl named Ellen.
Since Ellen is not an isolated case - in giving her our time - we are giving a generation of children our time. And maybe our time will grow compassion in us. And maybe then, we will fight against these injustices and take Christ's commands to heart.
He asked us to care for the least of these.
Ellen's story, as told by Kassie:
A few months ago, I wrote some of you to tell you about a little girl named Ellen who lives in the compound next to my house. Ellen was abandoned at birth by her mother, and was then brought by her father to Kabou-Sara to live with extended family members. She never was given breast milk, and she was without it for a few months in the very beginning of her life, making it difficult for another woman to start giving her milk (which is usually done) because she probably would have gotten sick.
Ellen is a beautiful two year old little girl, who I knew really needed help of some kind. Her body, being extremely frail—so much so that when she was naked, her skin literally just hung off of her bones. At least two years old, she was unable to walk. (She looks about 10-12 months). I bought enriched flour and decided to start preparing enriched porridge for her. I did this for about a week, until I stopped because I thought it was important for the family to learn how to prepare it and feed it to her. I had said that I would be willing to keep purchasing the flour, if they would prepare it for her and give it to her on a regular basis.
I also called other Peace Corps Volunteers who worked with Nutrition and HIV/AIDS organizations, seeing if there was a possibility of an organization taking Ellen on as a member…perhaps giving her an HIV test (because she had never been taken to the doctor before her), or perhaps providing nutritional supplements or food so that her body could become strong.
On Wednesday, April 9th, I came back home from being in Togo's capitol, Lome. My neighbor, Justine, who had been helping translate information I had to the family in the local language, told me that Ellen had died at 2am that morning.
Her guardian noticed that Ellen had become extremely weak, had taken her to the hospital in Kabou where she was given medicine, but Ellen wasn't able to get the medicine into her body in time. She was just too weak. It was just too late. It was horrible news to hear. When people say, "Oh, well if you can just touch one person's life…it'll all be worth it." --this was that person for me I thought. She was the first little girl in Africa…actually…I can honestly say that it was the first person that I could associate with that saying.
I remember two nights, so vividly, where I just sat down on a little wooden stool, blowing on spoonfuls of porridge, and feeding them to her. Her eyes, and her little hands clutching the goblet of food so tight, like it was some prize that she won and never wanted to give away. The day after I first fed her, Little Ellen scooted (she was never able to walk, so she would just scoot in her little dress, bare-bottomed with no underwear or anything) through the dirt, maybe 50 yards from her home to mine, and just sat on my front step, looking up to me. She NEVER left her house, unless someone picked her up and carried her somewhere. This was the only time I had ever seen her move anywhere…and it was to come sit on my step.
I just knew she wanted something…I just didn't know what I had to give. She wanted a chance at life…that's all. Though she couldn't speak, her eyes screamed at me, saying "WHAT ABOUT ME?!". I will never forget her eyes…how empty they looked. She wasn't even given a chance.
I find it very strange that I wasn't there the day that she died. I'm always in my village it seems. If I would have been at my house that morning, and seen Little Ellen, I don't know what I would have done.
-- Kassie Eberle