My host family is very dear to me. They welcomed me into their home one year ago today and they treat me like I am one of their own. Yes, I am older than my host father and mother, by say, 12 years? But they have taught me a lot about their culture especially the family life: very close and generous.
Everyday I visit my family and would spend time with their son, Buwame: one and a half years old and full of energy. He had learned how to say my name and started to walk on his own (with supervision) to my hut to visit me. Happy and healthy little boy. What a treat it was to visit with this little guy.
Over two months ago the unthinkable happened. He had come down with a fever and was not able to hold anything down. His parents, both nurses, professionally cared for him until they realized he needed hospitalization. He was in the hospital for a little over a day and improving when suddendly while being held by his mother he became seriously ill again. The doctors ordered him to be placed under oxygen. It wasn't long after he passed away.
This was a sudden and unexpected death. None of us were ready for such a tragedy. I think of all the children I interact with in the village and notice certain ones who I believe won't make it another year because of malnutrition or continuously coming down with malaria. But not Buwame. Bathed everyday, always held, loved by everyone, fed nutritious food...
We don't know what took him and we never will. We will always think of the little fellow. His smile is etched in my brain.
Here in the villages of Zambia death is a common occurrance. Disease is always present and children are most suseptable. I was aware of this when I signed on to volunteer. I felt I can handle death in the village. But being so close to a little life like this has made me realize life can change in an instant whether it be mine or yours or someone else's.