Owen

(13)

When I go for my morning run and see families with multiple children, I think about ways to teach these people about planning their families,about birth control. What if it goes against their religion or lifelong community norms? Is talking about these issues a taboo here?

I don’t have easy answers.

At the clinic local people are uneasy talking with a white man. Kasigo talks to them in the native language, interpreting my words.

One evening I am sitting on the stoop in my courtyard playing my guitar. I see Ayo running towards me.

“Mr. Owen, Mr. Owen, come with me fast, please,” he says.

I’m puzzled. What could be happening?

“Ayo, what’s wrong?” I ask

“Come please. Baako is very sick.”

“But Ayo, I’m not a doctor.”

“But you’re American. You’ll know what to do.”

I follow him two huts over. Baako is a teenager. He’s lying on the floor on a mat. His parents are squatting next to him. Four other children are playing in the dirt outside, unaware of what’s going on. I touch his forehead. He’s hot. I’m sure he has a high fever. It could be due to malaria, or an infection. I don’t know. I go to my hut and bring aspirin with me. I feed him two tablets with water. I’m not sure how clean the water is. I tell Baako’s parents to boil the water before drinking. Ayo is my interpreter.

“Let’s see what happens,” I say to Ayo. “In the morning bring him to the clinic and let Kasigo check him.” I’m not sure if what I did is going to work.

The next morning I ask Kasigo if Baako made it to the clinic.

“Yes. I think there is not much we can do here. He needs to go the hospital in the city.”

“Will he do it?”

“I’m not sure. That’s the problem we have here. Most people don’t have the money to go to the city and also pay the doctor’s fee.”

“Can I help?”

“No. It’s not your responsibility. Something will come up.”

“I hope so.”

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