We went to see Isatou. In her home in Tanji. We knew this would be a difficult visit. Isatou is getting worse. So much so, that she can no longer come to Second Home. She is now unable to eat by herself. Her mother puts the food in her mouth and then moves her jaw up and down to get Isatou to swallow the food. Her limbs are stiff and have formed weird angles. She lies on the bed. Her mother waves a piece of cloth around to keep the flies from landing on this precious child. She moves her eyes to say yes or no. And she smiles. Still, she smiles the most beautiful smile you will ever see.
We enter the house. Greet the mother, the grandmother and the great grandmother. Four generations of women in this small room. There is so much tension and pain in this room. In the middle of it all lies Isatou. She had her mother put on her most beautiful clothes, put on makeup and jewelry. Braid her hair. Visitors were coming. She smiles at us as we enter. We touch her, stroke her head, talk to her. Tell her how happy we are to see her.
We hand over the diapers that have been gifted to us, for Isatou. Tell Isatou’s mother Monday that these diapers where sent by Anke and Marte. She nods. It is clear that she has things to discuss. She has her bristles up.
She starts speaking to Marie, in Mandinka. I can’t understand a word of it, but it is easy to realize what she is saying. She points at us. Those people. We should give her more, we should make sure that she can buy food and soap and send someone to help her take care of Isatou in the night.
All I can see is her desperation. Her pain. It is as if her whole body is crying out.
Please. My child. Help her. Heal her. Please, please, please. Anyone. Do something.
We let her talk. We listen. And then we explain that we are doing what we can. We cannot do more. We cannot heal her. Nothing can be done.
She knows this of course, she knows. And she cries. So we hold her. And try to put all our compassion and all our love in that hug, because that is all we can do for this mother, this grandmother and this great grandmother. And for that beautiful girl that was supposed to be the future.