Stories from the Global Church

Here you will find stories from the global church by ELCA global missionaries, scholars, and churchwide staff, brought to you by the ELCA Global Church Sponsorship team.

A malaria death

Posted on October 1, 2013 by Hand In Hand
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The Rev. Brian and Christine Palmer are ELCA missionaries in Liberia. In this entry from their blog they write about the tragedy of a young child dying from malaria. To support the Palmers or another of the ELCA’s over 240 missionaries in the global church, go to www.ELCA.org/4missionaries. To support the ELCA Malaria Campaign, click here.

Christine and Brian Palmer

Christine and Brian Palmer

So 5:30 this morning I got a call from one of my colleagues, Rev. Mulbah. His 7-year-old grand-niece died of malaria last night and he was asking if I could take the body out to his hometown for the funeral and burial.

Her name was Kiema. Her tiny body was wrapped in a lappa with her bare feet hanging out. The dirt road to Gbonyea is a little rough and I couldn’t help but feel bad that Kiema’s body was not on a cushion of some sort. I kept reminding myself not to panic every time we hit a bump, “It doesn’t matter; she’s already dead.”

We stopped and put a palm branch in the windshield so people would know what we were doing. You wouldn’t think people would notice such a thing but everybody does. Instead of shouts of “White man!!” or “Chinese man!!” all we got was solemn stares as we quietly slipped by.

Kiema’s mother was with us and was completely silent until we got about a half mile from Gbonyea. That’s when she started crying. By the time we stopped at Rev. Mulbah’s house we were surrounded by hundreds of wailing friends and family. Knees were buckling, Faces were contorted. There was no holding back. Everybody cried, absolutely everybody.

4 Responses to 'A malaria death'

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  1. Rodger Prois said,

    on October 18th, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    Pr Brian and Christine,
    I give thanks for your service to the people of Liberia. I remain in contact with some whom I met when I visited there in 2008, and know them to be faithful followers. We continue to hold you in prayer. Greet Bishop Seyenkulo for me, we where co-workers in the churchwide office.
    Peace
    Bishop Rodger Prois
    Western Iowa Synod, ELCA

  2. MaryClare James said,

    on October 18th, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    Thank you for sharing this painful moment that help to put real people in the recounting of the disastrous effects of malaria. So often we just hear of numbers of people affected, not the emotional impact for everyone around.

    I have been working with my church and the synod efforts on the ELCA WHA Malaria campaign. This story supports those efforts.

    Many thanks,

    MaryClare James

  3. Anne Harris said,

    on October 18th, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    Rev. Brian and Christine I was just browsing and saw this article. I remember when you interned at King of Kings in New Windsor. I feel the pain as I lost my only child, Alexis, in July 2012 – she was murdered by her boyfriend. I will never get over it. Please tell Kiema’s mom we will pray for her. The community sounds amazing. Blessings to you and your family. Anne Harris (I will pass this on to our King of Kings family)

  4. Solveig M. Carlson said,

    on October 20th, 2013 at 11:49 am

    I’ve lived in Africa and taken anti-malaria meds. I’ve slept under a mosquito net. I’ve never had malaria nor have I had a child die from any cause. My heart aches for this mom and I’ve joined those who cry. Personally and as a member of Global Health Ministries, I am promoting the efforts of GHM and the ELCA to eradicate malaria.

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