It is muddy. Really muddy. A slippery, gooey, brown mud path winds its way up and down through a slum called Mikindani in Mombasa, Kenya. We are not prepared for this trek, as we didn’t know we’d be visiting Berverlyne, one of the young ladies who has been in our program for 9 years. I am wearing sandals while my boots are sitting in my suitcase at the hotel and these sandals were not made for this type of terrain or weather.
It rains here and there and we slip and slide some more along with Sister Veronica and Lucy, two of the amazing people who work in this project (Community Health Based Care). They are excited for me to see Beverlyne, but I am apprehensive. You see, Beverlyne was the golden child – she was a decent student and she was pretty good at taking her medications. She was smiley and happy and while quiet, she was smart and an everlasting presence whenever I’d come to visit. She had such a future ahead of her, if we could just keep her focused on her schooling!
Things changed for Beverlyne in November 2013. Her older brother beat her for disobeying him and the beating was severe enough that she developed thrombosis in her leg. By the time she was able to access medical care, gangrene had set in and it moved quickly up her leg. After an amputation about 10 inches above her knee, Beverlyne was depressed.
I knew everything that was going on with her, as Vero would write me, sending me photos and updates. I knew when she was told she’d lose her leg and saw photos of the terribly black leg, full of gangrene. I knew when she went into the surgery room and when she came out, I finally slept well.
Now, six months after her amputation, I find myself sliding in mud to visit her and I just don’t know what I’ll find. I am expecting the worst but when we finally arrive (only one of us falls in the mud!), she looks great! She is smiling bigger than life and greets us all with hugs and good wishes. She is clean, dressed in a pretty, long skirt, hoping on her foot as she leads us to the small living room. Yes, she still lives with the brother who beat her, along with his wife and children, but they are taking care of her, knowing that he bears the guilt of her losing her leg.
This Beverlyne seems almost better after this amputation – she seems more content and her face is healthy and shining. She says that she was very discouraged after the surgery, but as she looked around, she noticed others in her ward, especially the little ones, who had lost limbs and realized she is not alone. She feels hopeful and it is easy to see this hope in her face.
While eating Starbursts we brought, we catch up and I am thrilled to hear her dream of receiving a prosthetic leg soon so she can get back to work. She is a hair dresser and promises to give me a pedicure and manicure and to plait my hair since it is “a bit scraggly.” Maybe she’ll paint my lips too, she says, with a laugh.
With a long hug and encouragement to continue on the road to recovery, we leave her tiny home and head up the muddy path, hoping not to be the next one who slips and falls.