But I haven’t.
I was supposed to post a funny post today.
But I can’t.
My heart shouldn’t clench every time I see Akouvi’s name.
But it does.
So, you get to see some more processing today. Don’t feel like you have to read this. I know that grieving with me is not a fun process. But I appreciate it that you do.
A lot of people have asked how Akouvi died, and what happened. A poor friend asked in an email today, and she was greeted with this word spew of a response. I thought I would just repost it on here for those of you who have asked.
When I first met Akouvi, I was captivated by more than her eyes and her smile. At lunchtime, the photographer on the trip and I noticed that this adorable little girl with the too-big dress was sitting alone, crying, while everyone else ate their plates of chicken and rice. Our interpreter was occupied, and we couldn’t figure out what was going on. So the photographer got Akouvi a plate and handed it to her. She put it down next to her, and continued to cry. In a few minutes, an adult whisked the still-full plate away.
Finally we found out that Akouvi can’t have salt. We were told she was “allergic” to it, but I assumed it was more of a situation where her body, specifically her kidneys, can’t properly process sodium. And in their effort to keep Akouvi healthy, when they had food which contained salt, she couldn’t have any. I completely understand that they were trying to help, but we talked to them about the fact that they could take some food out for her before it was seasoned. I actually found out, after I began sponsoring her, that they began doing that.
About a week before Akouvi died (gosh, it’s seriously still hard to write that), I received word from my friend, Dela, who works in the Compassion Togo office, that Akouvi was in the hospital. Dela had gone to visit her, and said that they thought she was getting better. As late as the Saturday before she died, they were talking about when they would discharge her. Apparently, her health declined rapidly, and her body was retaining more and more fluid. She was also being treated for malaria, and I think her body just gave out. The official cause of her death, as far as I know, is kidney failure.
You know, I think I sometimes lose sight of how powerful an enemy poverty is. I was lulled into this false security that, because Akouvi was in Compassion, and because she was being treated in the hospital, she would be okay. Forgetting that she was in a hospital in a third-world country. Losing sight of how serious her sickness was. I’ve even thought lately about Akouvi versus a child here. Children here know what they’re allergic to, know what foods they can’t eat, and they will refuse those foods when they’re offered.
But a child like Akouvi? If you were starving, if you hadn’t eaten in days, would you refuse food because it had salt? Because you knew it would make you sick? Would sickness be an easier choice than starvation? I can’t imagine what that choice must have been like for her.
And I hate that she ever had to make it.
(Just one final note–I’ve let a lot of you know this, but for those who don’t, I am collecting money to give Akouvi’s family a financial gift through Compassion. More than likely, this gift will be used to defray her medical and funeral costs. If you’re interested in giving, you can do so through paypal.com, by making a payment to firstname.lastname@example.org.)