Thursday, December 20, 2007

Impromptu Holiday

A national holiday was unexpectedly declared this morning, apparently in an effort by the ruling PNU party to curry favor in the upcoming elections. There are no hospital holidays, of course, and we admitted three new patients, all victims of random assault: one a boda-boda driver, one a matatu passenger and another a pedestrian. Violence seems to be increasing in Maseno; Gerry says it has been increasing in the entire Western Province. Last weekend a Church of God missionary in nearby Kima was attacked and robbed in his home. Goodrick is 79 years old and has spent 50 years serving his church and people here. He and his wife retired in Kenya because she had a stroke several years ago, and home care for her in the U.S. is too expensive.

It was not the best night for our Nadia to go missing. She did not know she was missing, of course, but we were all worried when she didn't return home by dark at 6:30 PM ... or at 7:30 PM ... or even at 8 PM. We slowly pieced together the story: she had asked a boda-boda driver to take her to Kisumu -- 30 minutes away by van, remember -- in order to cash her traveler's checks. They left Maseno about 1 PM. Although Nadia has a cell phone, we did not know the number, and no one had heard from her. There was "no point in calling the police," nor was there any point in sending out a search party and risking others' lives on the dark rutted road to Kisumu. All we could do, quite literally, was pray.

Nadia arrived home safely about 8:20 PM, innocently exhilarated by her "beautiful ride" but disappointed that the country's banks had been closed for the uncharted holiday. "That is probably what saved your life," a very relieved Emmah told her, amidst hugs all around. Thanks be to God.

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