This post is the first of four in the “Hope” series, which will be released through the month of February. The story behind the healing journey of a family from Niger is told by Josh Korn, one of the Spiritual Directors at CURE Niger.
Hadiza had a daughter named Salama. She raised Salama alone in the town of Ayarou, a town on the river near the border of Mali. Life was not easy, but Hadiza did all she could for Salama. She made porridge at home and sold it on the street. She made enough money to keep them alive, but not much more than that. Hadiza loved Salama, but Salama grew up and one day she left. She went away to Benin, and Hadiza barely heard from her at all.
Time went by, and one day Salama came back to Ayarou. But she did not come alone. She came with her husband, whom she met and married in Benin, and with the baby she was carrying inside her. After a few months, the baby was born. Her name was Saratou. She was born with cleft lip.
Salama and her husband decided to go back to Benin and leave Saratou with Hadiza. They left her because to keep her would be difficult. It would mean shame, prying questions from strangers, mockery, rejection, and extra work. A child with cleft lip is a difficulty, and not one that you can ignore. It is a difficulty that you see in the face of your child every day. Salama and her husband could not face this difficulty, so they left.
Now Hadiza was left with Saratou. She raised Saratou in the town on the river. She did all she could for her. She made porridge at home and sold it on the street. When Saratou got a bit older she would take the porridge and sell it on the street to help Hadiza. Hadiza had hopes for Saratou – she hoped that she would marry one day and have children of her own. She wanted Saratou to be able to live a normal life. But along with her hopes, she had fears. She feared that Saratou would never marry, never have her own children. Who would marry her with a cleft lip? Who would accept her?
Saratou started going to school, but the other children were so mean to her that she eventually quit. They would laugh at her, stare, and talk about her. She got into fights almost every day. Hadiza still had hope for Saratou, but her fears seemed to be justified every time Saratou came home crying or got into a fight. She had hope, even though she knew she had no reason to hope. She had no money and no connections to anyone with money. No rich relatives who live in the city, no one who could support her and no one who could help find Saratou the medical treatment she needed. She had nothing. In Niger, that usually means you will not get the medical attention you need.
Come back next Thursday for the next installment in our four-part February “Hope” series.