I realize I haven’t written to my parents in a while. An earlier letter from Dad informed me that he had retired and was volunteering as an events planner at the Pauls Valley church. I don’t know why I think of my friend Ashley Wilkins from Oklahoma University. I look through my contact list and find his address at the University of Michigan where he started as an assistant professor. I write letters to my parents and to Ashley. I enclose copies of my picture with Rachel. “We are just friends,” I write.
I’ve been here for almost a year and a half now. There are six more months before I finish my duty as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
“Mr. Owen we have the mosquito nets finally,” Kasigo says one day.
“Weren’t they ordered when I came here?”
“Yes. This is Africa. That’s the way it is.”
We make plans to visit the families in the village to distribute the nets. It’s a challenge to teach them how to tie the nets over their beds. Most sleep on the floor on mats. Some families are large with six to eight children. But maybe we have to prioritize based on a family’s situation.
One such family is the Ibori family. Mr. Akua Ibori and his wife Bayo have three children and Bayo is pregnant again. Their eldest son Demond left school to help out his father in his maize farm. I am sorry that we can give them only one net. I hope that the mosquito net will make the mother’s life a bit bearable, especially during her pregnancy.
A couple of months go by.
“Mrs. Ibori gave birth to a baby girl,” Kasigo tells me as I enter the clinic. It’s a beautiful day and I am planning to go to the village market and stock up on the groceries after work
“How’re mother and the baby?” I ask.
“Mother is okay, but the baby didn’t survive,” Kasigo says, as if it was a regular event.
“How did that happen? I’m sorry to hear that.”
“She probably didn’t sleep under the net and got infected. There was no net. It was stolen within two days after we gave it to them.”
“What? Who would do a thing like that?”
“It’s a problem we have,” Kogiso says. “They will do anything to make money. Feeding themselves is more important that saving from malaria.”
“That makes no sense.”
“Their son Demond is a suspect,” Kasigo says after a pause.
“What will happen to him?”
“Frankly, nothing in my opinion.”
“That’s the way it is here.”