In April of this year, Tia Anabella's oldest daughter died of malaria. She was 24 years old, and four months pregnant with her second child.
It was a hard time for the neighborhood. Dan and I hadn't known her well, since she had been married and living in the city for the duration of our service, but she was beloved by her neighbors and by her younger siblings. Gilda and Alzira cried for days. Tia Anabella was hysterical.
Hundreds of people turned up for the funeral, and bore the body through the town and to the countryside graveyard. School attendance was low that day, and the bairro was in tears. She had been very popular and very young, so her death was a hard blow to everyone.
The daughter's husband, a young man of similar age, was heartbroken. He'd lost his wife and unborn baby, and was now a single father. His infant daughter, six-month old Florinda, was left without a mother.
The husband stayed to make arrangements for the funeral, but eventually returned to his home in the city. When he went, he left his baby girl behind. He and Tia Anabella had mutually decided that it was best for Florinda to remain in Zobue, to be raised by her maternal grandmother.
That was five months ago and, of course, Florinda is still here. We've enjoyed watching her grow, and the entire neighborhood has been reaching out to help. I've never seen such an outpouring of compassion as I have seen bestowed upon this little girl. Somebody is always picking her up and kissing her and showing her love. Her aunts (Gilda and Alzira) carry her everywhere and defend her with vigor. Even Seni and her uncles scoop her up to play with her, which is rare for men in Mozambique.
Surrounded by love and constant attention, Florinda has become a cheerful, oblivious, and very happy baby.
|Seni and Florinda playing on the porch|
|Gilda and Florinda|
|Alzira and Florinda|
|Amilcar and Florinda (in matching hats!)|
The family's kindness towards Florinda, especially the compassion shown by the other little girls, has been life-affirming. She is the most beloved baby in the entire world.
I think that her mother would have been happy to know.