Friday, November 28, 2008

Meet Mai

I met Mai on a bad week. Just days before, I was heartbroken to attend the funeral of a 21-year-old who died giving birth. It happens, and it's really sad, and it disturbed me to see how quickly people moved on. I concluded that they had no choice, but it had me in a funk for days.

That was the scene when one afternoon I stumbled upon this beautiful child with wide eyes and a strong grip, who can't talk yet, but who babbles enough that I'm sure she has things to say.

Bambara is sometimes inexact, and it took a number of tellings before I grasped the overwhelming nature of Mai's story.

Apparently within moments of giving birth, Mai's mother dropped her into a well. She fell about twelve feet, into the ground water below. Her mother left her there.

I assume it was minutes or hours, and not days later that someone walking by the well heard Mai crying and went to investigate. He successfully pulled her out of the well, and took Mai in as his daughter.

I took a few moments to ponder the odds of Mai's survival. From the fall itself, to the fact that wells are sufficiently full of chilly water that a newborn should either drown or freeze inside one, contemplating how she survived made my head hurt. With all that against her from her first moments in the world, she is a perfectly normal, beautiful little person. She now has a mommy and a daddy that love her, and one white boy who secretly plots to smuggle her home to America in my... er his... backpack.

The story is really no more complicated than that. There's not much to do but acknowledge how truly awesome it is and then move on.

It's true that life everywhere is often fragile, random, or cruel. But sometimes it's equally surprisingly and randomly resilient and beautiful. It's more magnified here, but the basics still hold.

I've had moments when I wasn't sure if I could handle facing that duality on a daily basis. Then Mai, the girl who was found in a well, came along and somehow assured me I would.


Curt Beckmann said...

Hi Dan,

A friend from your past, Catherine (who looks after my son), pointed me at your blog. Very moving, I must say.

I don't suppose you have any extra time, but if you do, take a look at, and let me know what you think. You are a part of Appropedia's "target market".

I'll be in Sierra Leone, Ghana and Togo later this month. I hope my stories aren't quite so wrenching as yours, but I expect that even after a short trip, I'll be changed forever.

Chel said...

Wow, what an awesome story.

This is your second cousin from Texas on your Mom's side. My Dad and your Grandma Carol were brother and sister.

I have met your Mom and Dad through several family gatherings, and recently have been visiting with your Mom on Facebook. She has sent me to your blog. Your cousin Connie has also sent me to her daughters (Hilary's blog). I am attempting to recreate some sort of Fugler Family data base and I am very excited to meet you through your blog spot.

I have sent you a friend request on facebook - but forgot to send you a message to let you connect the family dots. If you reject me I will understand - but I will keep reading as your work is very intersting to me.