My name is Yaje. Growing up in my remote neighborhood in Bamenda was once of those experiences in my life that I would never forget. My parents were both civil servants and I have 3 sibling. Being civil servants, both mum and dad were bread winners to their different families, which left us with very little to feeds pay rents and other bills at the end of each month. Life was difficult, but to our neighbors, we were considered wealthy. Daddy had an old pegeot car and our friends envied us each time daddy dropped us at our school.
All our neighbors were either peasant farmers or petty traders. I remember seeing a family of maybe seven living in a room. Our neighbor’s kids were always looking hungry and would gladly partake in our meals when mummy invited them to share with us. On four different occasions, we came back from school to see a family mourning over the death of an infant. They all said it was witchcraft, but mummy would tell us at home that it was due to malnutrition.
Well, our parents gave us an education to make our lives better which rather unfortunately was not a university degree most of them dropped out from primary and secondary levels. Upon finishing my university program, I still felt empty inside. I wanted to be of help in my community and my degree in sociology and Anthropology wasn’t enough to achieve that. After I married, I suggested to my husband to let me train as a nurse which he reality agreed. I enrolled into a nursing school and after 3years, I graduated with higher diploma in nursing. So, while working as teacher in one of the government school I decided to run a home care medical service. I would pay visits to homes in my community diagnose their little medical problems, and treat them with very little charges. Most cases that I treat are always Malaria, Typhoid and malnutrition in children. Most often, my patients won’t ever have money to pay for their medications. But none the less, I make them to understand that their health is paramount to money. I teach them the importance of good health and tell them what to do to stay healthy. I even referred some to the hospitals for test and many who claimed they had been bewitched by friends and family members tested positive to HIV. It has been a daily fight to bring them to the realities of their health problems but it has been worth a fight.
But the one experienced that has left me so frustrated is when one of the kids in my neighbor died in my very own hands. Feh was a tiny little girl in my quarter. At 10, she looked like a 4year old kid. On my first visit to their virtual signs, I realized Feh was so malnourished. But her parents insisted that she had been bewitched by her aunty who was jealous of her. These are usually very difficult cases to handle. So, realizing Feh’s parent were adamant to any form of health education, I passed by the next day with milk and other beverages, fruits and vegetables for Feh. I also gave her some vitamins to boost her eating habits. A week later, I passed there again, and Feh had greatly improved. I told her parents to continue giving her milk and the beverages. I added her vitamins. After 3days, on passing through the house, Feh had been sent to live with her grandparents, reason being that she was being hidden from the witch. What a society. Two weeks later, my daughter Deedee called me while I was in class teaching. She said, “Mama, hurry up and come home, there is a dying child here in the house and her parents want to see only you”. My heart fell because I know of some severe cases I use to handle. I had to finish my class before dashing out and speeding home on a motorbike. On reaching the house, I discovered to my highest dismay that the dying child my daughter had talked about is Feh.
Her hair was all red, her stomach protruded and her legs and arms so lean, I checked her and fared for the worst she was badly breathing and struggling to open her eyes and stare as I checked her vital signs she suddenly stopped breathing I carried her and rush out without a word to her parents they followed me all the same and I hurried with her to the nearest clinic near our neighborhood on arrival the doctors confirmed my greatest fear Feh had died. Oh God how I cried, the doctors also confirmed she was highly malnourished and that had caused her death and it was only then that her parents realized that Feh had been malnourished not bewitched as they claimed.
On the day of her funeral, I wept uncontrollably many people could not understand, many questions were running through my mind “had I done enough”? The question kept running via my mind.
It’s been two years now since Feh died I have taken upon myself to see to the welfare and health of all the children in my neighborhood I treat them even when their parents refuse to understand and pay for their treatments, I take them to the hospitals and get their parents involved when need be taking care of children is now a passion that I want to do till the day I breath my last on earth Feh died and a passion has been laid in my heart a passion that is not profitable but it is worth dying for.