He was a cute little guy, just turned one in September. Always busy trying out new toys – pieces of wood or plastic, hammers – anything he could find around the building site of Matunda. Always smiling, following everything, wanting to follow you, get picked up. A really likeable little guy.

About two weeks ago, he got sick. He seemed to have a cold; a slight fever, wanting to sit more than usual. Then he would get up and go play again. Slowly he got worse, his mother took him to the doctor. As is the custom here, he got what seemed to be a lot of medicines.

His mother took him upcountry; it’s not clear why. Within a week Elijah died. We really have no idea why. A terrible loss.

If you think these people get used to losing family and friends to childhood diseases (malnutrition in children is at 35%, one in nine dies before his fifth birthday), forget it. It hurts just as much. The rate of HIV/Aids is still very high, also infectious diseases, even from the common use of burning small charcoal stoves indoors for cooking can kill.

But Elijah is no more. We’ll certainly miss him. I still have to smile when I think of him.


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