We have a group of half-dozen neighboorhood children who we love. The brothers Nuchu, Innho, Inginho live in an adobe house with their father who lost both his legs to a land mine. They are too poor to go to school and mostly gather branches to sell as fire wood to patients. Their smiles light up any room. There are the siblings Luis and Filomina, intelligent, articulate kids whose mother is an old fistula patient who has been abandoned by her family. She sells charcoal for 30 cents a pile to other patients to earn money for food. They've recently started to go to school! And then there is Bruno whose tiny body and funny shaped head is probably a consequence of neglect and abuse (which he casually mentions), but whose gentle heart has broken mine.
They are all sweet, generous, trust-worthy and kind. They are the best gatherers of wild edible fruit - and our boys now often go hunting with them. They are fun playmates who join us on many walks. On our walks they also introduced us to the "River Kukala" - a small stream nearby where cattle come to drink (and poop), ladies wash clothes (and diapers), and snails with schistosomiasis live (we suspect - they certainly live is MANY places around the country). Schistosomiasis is an insidious, dangerous disease. The version we have can cause bladder cancer, chronic infections, infertility, etc. . . I'm afraid of it. Well, to be honest I'm afraid of lots of things (malaria, typhoid, earthquakes in large cement houses, rabid dogs, etc). . . but when I think of my sweet babies I worry even more. So what do I do when they want to join their friends swimming, running, playing, jumping, washing in the river? I wring my hands. I say no. But then I often capitulate. We go down to the river. They have a great time. I don't know if this is the right answer. But I do know that this world our God created is so beautiful. Our friends and children are intensly enjoying, celebrating and glorifying Him in it. Should I stop this? I know that Jesus walked in dangerous paths, traveled in storms, and even took his disciples into these places. I'm not trying to say that going down to the river is the cross I've been asked to carry... but it causes me to pause and pray... then thank Him and (as my Nana Mary Spencer reminded me) to hold everything I dearly love in the palm of my hand... an open palm.
PS. We will be occasionally, empirically taking praziquantel :)