Saturday, May 10, 2014

Notes on life and death in the Meningitis Belt of Africa. We will always remember Kuot.


Paul and Rose Kuot are amazing Sudanese Christians that love the people of Akot-- often taking in the destitute and abandoned. Their oldest son is named Kuot, which means, Sour Pumkin. There is nothing sour about them. The photo below is their home.
Hart gave Kuot a copy of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe once. He lit up and asked "Is this a book about God?" Hart explained that this was a book about how God might have been in a world like the one the author imagined. He read the book many times, often out loud to nearby children. Soon they all knew the story.

This area is in a region sometimes called "the Meningitis Belt of Africa," because of the cyclic epidemics that sweep through the area. I was in one and it was bad. When Kuot died suddenly of meningitis, we were devastated. I wrote a single email to around a dozen people describing the need for $35,000 in order to vaccinate the village and surrounding areas. Within weeks, we had exactly that much. When my two daughters came with me with a group of medical students we vaccinated around 9,000 people-- all in the midst of another regional war with soldiers and fighting all around. I have never been more proud of a group of young people in my life. The next time the epidemic swept the area there was a blank spot on the epidemiology maps around our village-- an amazing thing. One epidemiologist estimated that 127 children survived the next epidemic because of their work.
While there doing the vaccines, we held a memorial service for Kuot, hoping to encourage his parents that he did not die in vain and that neither we nor God had forgotten him. It was the hardest thing I ever did.
Rose wrote me the letter below.
 It is now one of most cherished possessions.