So what was the topic? Malaria? HIV/AIDS? TB? Nope. The critical topic of choice was--the baby's "soft spot" (fontanel). The question was, "What changes in a baby's soft spot do we worry about? What affects it?" There is quite a bit of preoccupation with the baby's soft spot and whether or not it bounces, and if it does, how quickly it does, and to what depth, etc.
The first, bold person to answer was a lady who said, "Vomiting or diarrhea." A few others nodded.
Then an older woman said that when the soft spot goes down, that's dangerous and the child could die but a traditional healer can help. Many more nodded their heads this time. Someone else suggested that that in this event, mom should have being taking "preventive measures" by massaging the roof of the baby's mouth with oil. "If she doesn't do this and the child becomes sick, the traditional healer will administer a mixture of oils and herbs or salts to then rub into the roof of the mouth, and administer an infusion of roots and herbs for the child to drink, to heal and control movement of the soft spot." There was much nodding of heads after this comment.
After several others also contributed their ideas, the health worker went on to explain that a sunken soft spot indicates dehydration, and the danger that results from vomiting, diarrhea, and even fever. And that while the parents run quickly to the traditional healer to identify what evil spirit has caused this and how to appease it, the evil itself is the very diarrhea that is dehydrating the child. He went on to explain the critical importance of re-hydration, especially in infants. Everyone sat in rapt attention--surprised that there would be such frank discussion on the cultural practice of seeking help from traditional healers whose main purpose is identifying evil spirits during illness. Everyone sitting there in rapt attention also heard the message about dehydration and life-saving re-hydration. They have also joined us for several weeks of devotions so far, and prayer, as always followed the morning's discussion.
|A mom, examining an image related to the lesson.|
As that day unfolded, it held its fair share of challenges. But this was one of the high points.