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by Rashid, Canada Nov 23, 2004
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I walked out of the building numbed; looking back I am surprised that my legs were even able to carry me. My eyes were glazed; my arms limp at my sides. I wasn’t the only one. Brave young men tried desperately to hold back their tears and failed miserably. Experienced adult men broke down and wept, one broke out in a sweat minutes after we had entered and twitched nervously as it dripped off his face.

She was in pains, struggled throughout the night. But she was lying motionless when the midwife arrived. A tall old lady between the ages of 50-60 years, a lovely person, full of energy with the heart of an angel. They call her the “earth mother” but her real name is Lady Samantha. She asked everybody to move out of the tiny room shared by 7 children and the mother and father, the eighth was what we were anxiously waiting for. The father of the children looked on absent mindedly with concern and in shock by the deteriorating condition of the wife. With so much poverty he is barely able to feed his poverty stricken family, so the wife, with her condition of pregnancy had nothing to eat, was malnourished and was in a state of death when the midwife came to help her in her hour of labour. The 7 children they already have, are not in school, look malnourished, in teetered cloths, the younger of the children looked at me and smiled, she had white teeth and you could see from her tiny face with the fake smile that she was hungry and so I approached her and took her to a near by shop and bought bread for her, with the bread she ran quickly to her sisters and brothers and shared it with them. You could see the life in her but the harsh reality is that, she will not have the opportunity to step into a classroom even if the father can afford it, the first priority will be for the older ones.

As I looked into the face of the father of the children I tried to figure out what he was thinking and asking myself and saying: one more mouth to feed, how you will survive but then I was brought back to this world with the screaming of the old lady to get out. As the door of the room was closed, both men and women indulge in a long conversation about the fate of the woman. As the conversation got quieter I asked a young man about this strange old lady who have been woken up by the father of the children and promptly she has responded to the call with no hesitation. Surprised I was told that she is the only midwife catering for three communities and surrounding villages. Sometimes she is woken up in the night and taken deep into the forest to deliver a pregnant woman. She is paid nothing but offers selfless service to humanity. In September of this year against the background of a heavy rain and total darkness, she was awoken from her sleep by the screaming of a lady who had traveled 10 miles with the aid of a touch light to fetch her to deliver the sister who was in labour. It was said that on the day before, she was struck down by an illness and went to bed feeling dizzy but she told the lady to run back and tell her sister and the husband that, she was on her way. Immediately the lady left, she was advised that because she wasn’t feeling well, it is not advisable to travel in the middle of the night on a day when there is no moon light but she replied, “We are expected to live according to divine principles. The earth should be a peaceful place to live on but man’s inhumanity to man, greed and selfishness have brought about untold hardship and misery to some people and for me my task is to relieve the misery of women a little in this part of our world where there is no access to a hospital.” The “earth mother” has demonstrated that there is always an alligator where a crocodile once lived. A remarkable woman by all standards whose effort to putting smiles on the faces of depressed women is one that deserves commendation. As I was locked into deep thought as to how to commend this remarkable lady I was brought to life by the sound of a crying baby which brought smiles on the faces of all those gathered, but the smiles quickly eroded when the old lady came out of the room. She had tears in the eyes and it was dripping like rain. Immediately we all knew that, the mother of the child didn’t survive. In the Ghanaian culture there is a saying that men don’t cry but on this day, the men couldn’t hold back their tears, the husband of the woman wept like a child, he went into the room ,held his wife and all he could do was weep. He couldn’t speak but murmur, “how can I look after these children alone,’’ he kept saying…

After several hours, in the late morning around 7 am, I visited the earth mother, congratulated her and went ahead to accompany her to the house of the deceased husband. It was an emotional morning; he had the new born baby in his hands with tears in his eyes. The earth mother consoled him and presented children’s cloth to him and told him that she will help raise the child and in due time she will return. We left with tears in our eyes.

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