DEATH OF BABY BREDA SHOCKS MITCHELSTOWN CREDIT UNION VOLUNTEERS
The realities of life in Uganda were brought home to a group of Mitchelstown volunteers during their trip to Africa late last month. Mary O’Farrell and Joy White were in Uganda to help set up financial systems for rural communities when tragedy struck one of the families they were visiting.
“Aanya who had come to Mitchelstown and studied to get his diploma in credit union studies at UCC is an old friend and had spent some time with us here in Mitchelstown,” Joy White told The Avondhu.
“When he arrived in Mitchelstown Aanya stayed at James and Breda Keane’s in Ballybeg. So to thank them for their generosity and all their help Anaya and his wife Betty called their third daughter Breda,” Joy continued.
When the Mitchelstown group arrived Aanya and his wife went to meet them but were late due a puncture and so returned home. The next day the group met up with Aanya and were delighted to see him so well.
“We were due to meet Aanya again the following day but we were told that he had to take his daughter, Breda, to hospital as she was ill. The nearest hospital was two hours away by car. Little did we know just how serious it was, she was bitten by a mosquito at around midnight the night before and had contracted malaria. Breda was running a severe high temperature when Aanya arrived at the hospital.”
Just eight months old, she was pronounced dead at 2am on Monday morning.
“The funeral took place on Wednesday as all day Tuesday preparations were being made. The Mass was held in their front yard in the middle of the compound. This clan live in mud huts in a circular compound. Baby Breda was buried in a beautiful white dress inside the compound about 10 feet away from her own front door. The people in the village believe it is bad luck to bury a loved one outside the compound,” Joy said.
It is tradition for the family to stay up for four nights mourning the loss of their loved ones.
"Our reaction to the funeral was total disbelief. I suppose we were stunned by the lack of talking about the fact. The community just accepted it and nobody really mentioned it only a few of the older women who thought we might be concerned. The Mass was beautiful but there was no immediate family interaction, the community did it all from the speaking to the organizing,” Joy said.
The group soon learned that this was a fact of daily life in Uganda but also that the Ugandan people and their strong spirit continues on no matter what difficulties arise.
Friday 12th March 8:45am