Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Special Little Guy

Roy Merritt recently sent out this story about Gwembe, one of the boys that he and Kathi have taken in at the Eric's House orphanage. It touched my heart, and I hope it will touch yours as well.

From Roy Merritt: Gwembe is the little guy on the left.

Gwembe is mentally retarded. Doesn’t talk much. He grins a lot and gives “thumbs up” to everyone he meets. He runs if he is travelling more than 100 yards.

Before he came to us, thugs battered him to mincemeat and a concerned person dragged him to Zimba hospital. When he recovered the hospital wanted to release him to Somebody—anybody! Social services brought him to us. They knew nothing about him, and when anyone asked his name he only replied “Gwembe” – which is a tribal name for our part of Zambezi Valley.

I liked him immediately. People here can be brutal with mentally ill or retarded people. Every town has a few ragged, filthy, shaggy fellows shuffling through trash heaps for a snack. I wasn’t just moved by compassion. I wanted our kids to learn that people like Gwembe are also valuable human beings, made in the image of God.

Gwembe has become popular, and fits in well most of the time. He plays with the two-year-olds, Hides behind the door and shouts “Boo”. He protects them and separates their little fights. He loves gadgets that flash or beep or unfold. Our older kids have learned to like him, return his thumbs up, and protect him from those who would be unkind.

Gwembe has some problems that need surgery. How do we get permission? I tried Social Services, the local court, the Chief medical officer, and just got passed around to the next office. We began to follow hints—where is his family? We finally traced them out—200 miles away at Siameja village deep in Gwembe valley. He had disappeared two years ago, and the family even planned a funeral for him, until they heard rumors he might be somewhere near Kalomo. After we told the family what we needed, Gwembe’s older brother Kingwell, brought us a handwritten letter from Gwembe’s father, with the date stamp of their local headman, giving permission for the surgery. Kingwell is the big guy in the picture. He is 25 years old and in grade 9.

The letter also told us Gwembe’s real name, Kalombe Siakoole. We’ve called him Gwembe for so long, nothing is going to change here!

No comments: