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October 5, 2010

I was supposed to spend this afternoon with one of my co-workers from the District Health Office.  We were going to do his weekly lesson in evidence based decision making, and then work out plans for distributing water monitoring forms to the Health extension workers. I was looking forward to the afternoon; I enjoy working with him a lot –   direct and to the point, always hardworking, always on time, always eager to learn more.

Plans change. His two year old son died this morning.  No notice, no warning. I spent the morning sitting on his living room floor with about 50 other shocked and grieving women.

It’s saddening, and not all that rare. Another of our co-workers lost two children suddenly, earlier this year.  It’s very common for meetings and field work to be rescheduled for funerals (almost weekly it seems).  Never before for someone this close to me, but definitely for people that they know.  The even scarier part is that the people I interact with on a regular basis, are more well off than many.  They have government jobs, steady income.  They’re not living in extreme poverty.  I can only imagine the increase in frequency of these types of events, for those who are.

Sometimes I think people romanticize poverty.  ‘It’s a simpler way of life.’  ‘People don’t have as much, but they’re still just as happy.’  I’m know I’ve done it.  I’m looking to move out of my comfy living situation, into something less plushy.  Why? In order to experience and understand better.  But I’m a lucky one.  I can pick and choose what I want to experience and what I don’t.  Living without electricity and running water – ok, sure.  My family getting sick – no thanks, I’ll pass on that one.  That choice doesn’t exist for many, and there’s nothing romantic or happy about it.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. October 5, 2010 1:41 pm

    Eek, one of the many devastating challenges. Sorry for the loss of your friend and coworker.

  2. Pat Dunstan permalink
    October 5, 2010 2:14 pm

    So very sorry to hear this , Alyssa.

  3. Hannah permalink
    October 5, 2010 2:19 pm

    I read the title and knew that it would not be good news 😦 I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your coworker’s son. It’s always difficult to hear about the loss of a child. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.

  4. Nadia permalink
    October 5, 2010 2:40 pm

    I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your friend’s son. So unfair. Very powerful post, thank you for writing it.

  5. Karen Forgrave permalink
    October 6, 2010 3:53 am

    Now that I have a 2-year-old myself, I cannot imagine how horrifying it would be to lose a child. Even though it’s “much more common” in developing countries, it must still be just as heart-breaking! My thoughts and prayers go out to all who have had to deal with the loss of a child.

  6. Melanie Arden permalink
    October 6, 2010 7:15 pm

    Thank you for the article on Alyssa’s work and experiences. She sees so many things that we would not witness here. It is sad that her co-worker lost his son. Very tragic. Unfortunately, many children don’t make it to the age of 10 in African countries, hence a reason why so many children are born despite poverty.


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