Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Story of Two Girls a Half a World Apart

I just finished an amazing book, The House on Sugar Beach by Helene Cooper. It made me laugh, cry, ache and most of all. . .think.

The stories of two women are running through my head. One of them, has a story that I do not know. I know her name. I know the 2 paragraphs I have written about her. Everything else is left to my imagination. Reading this book has left me wondering about her story.

Her name is Rita, this much I know. She was born in Nimba County in 1982 and sometime during the war, made her way down to Monrovia to live in an IDP Camp (Internally Displaced Persons). She grew up during the war. She was born a year and a half after the coup that put Doe in leadership. As she was turning 7, Charles Taylor's rebel group entered through her county ready to take the country by force. What did she see? Were her parents able to protect their little girl's innocence? Did she grow up in fear? From the ages of 7-21 there was war surrounding her. Brutal, tribal, bloody war that ripped the country apart. Droves upon droves of Liberians fled the country, escaping to any country that would have them. Many of those that were left fled to the capital city, Monrovia.

When did they leave Nimba? What was life like there? The trek during wartime to Monrovia was not an easy one. The journey was plagued by rebel soldiers drugged up, blood thirsty and waiting for girls of any age to come along. They likely made the journey in pieces, by foot primarily, sleeping where they could with friends, family or strangers that would lend their floor. All of this to be safe from the fighting "up-country" by living in an IDP camp. . . never to return to their former life. With all of this strife, it is no wonder that no one in her family received an adequate education. This meant no way to support themselves but through the handouts of friends and strangers. (the picture below is an IDP camp in Liberia)
The other woman swimming in my head is me. I was born just a year and a half before Rita in a hospital room in Mansfield, Ohio. I moved as well, but for a different reason. My dad got a new job right after my baby sister was born. We moved into a modest (by US standards) home that would have been a mansion to Rita. We grew up, us 3 girls, in a happy family with little cares to weigh us down. We were homeschooled to spend more time with our Daddy and spent weeks on the road. However, our travels took us to Courtyards where we made new friends and swam every day. We grew up carefree and happy, playing with dolls making up dances and singing at the top of our lungs. Our biggest worries were over who got to use the phone first and which friends' house we were spending the night at. I didn't even know where Liberia was, but I knew of Africa. I would listen in awe when missionaries spoke and devoured the words of missionary biographies. I would tell my parents that I was going to be a missionary one day and go to Africa. My heart ached for the poor, but little did I know that halfway across the world was a little girl whose heart would be forever connected to mine. A girl just 1 year younger than myself, growing up in a world that I couldn't even fathom. I wasn't even allowed to watch movies that contained as much violence as this little girl most likely witnessed. And yet, we would be joined by one little boy.

My last bit of information of Rita Davis is of her living in one room, with her mother and toddler son and pregnant again. This, with no way to support themselves. And so she chose life. She gave life to her son, by giving him up. . .to me. Forever, I will be grateful for giving this boy life. Forever, I will choose to love him as my son. Forever, I will remember Rita. I wish I knew her story, instead of just piecing together other people's stories and knowing her's is similar. I love this woman, though we've never spent an evening together. I cry for what she has gone through up until now. I know that I must do what I can to help Liberia. . .because maybe, just maybe I will be helping my son's mother, his brother or sister, his aunts or uncles.


Dearest Jessica said...

such a sweet reminder of how God links us all together to help each other.

To remember our own blessings and others suffering.

Anonymous said...

Oh how sweet...God did link two girls forever! What a beautiful thing to remember and how sweet that Davis now has a chance to grow up without war or famine and most importantly know and experience the love of God. His birth mom loved him so much she was willing to give him more than she was able...makes me cry!! Love ya, Christie

Brittani said...

Oh, Brandi, forever we will choose to love your sweet boy, as well. AND... forever we will continue to pray for your ministries that are helping people JUST like sweet Davis & Rita.

Erhardts said...

I love reading your blog...your joy seeps through my computer screen. i hope to meet you one day!

Andrea P. said...


Vanessa said...

What an amazing story!! It never ceases to amaze my how much two hearts miles and countires apart can become so connected!!

Danielle said...

Brandi, you have such a beautiful love for these suffering people. Thank you for writing about it. I know the story you just wrote about Davis' birth-mama is going to stay with me.
-Also, thanks for the info on the WATER project.

Missy said...

I can so relate to your love for Rita. I feel the same way about Babygirl, Levi's mom.

Kevin just bought Sugar Beach for me last week while he was at a Barnes and Noble in....oh, my, should I even tell you? Orlando. OK, he was just there for a little over a day.

One more thing on this post. I had no idea you were born in Mansfield. Kevin was born and raised near there and we met in Cardington (Morrow Co.)where we both went to HS. Small world, huh?

Love you,

Greg said...

This was powerful..