Dambe’s loss

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Dambe (rhymes with Bambi), is my latest Haus Meri, and has been with me since March.  She’s the best.  She works for me 2 days a week and does a fabulous job. She’s thorough, knows what she is doing, she’s detail oriented, she’s organized, she plans ahead, she asks for what she needs and even sees the dirt. Sometimes I have thought I should ask her to do ‘x’ and before I even say anything she tells me she’s going to do exactly what was on my mind.  She irons everything (I sometimes have to tell her it’s not necessary to iron the shirts I run in).  Best of all, the very most important thing, is that she is sooo cheerful.  She’s the greatest!  She smiles, she talks to me (in pisin). When she can’t come to work for various reasons she texts me to let me know.  Dambe is a go-getter, she has two other jobs, she works for a friend of mine in town 2 days a week and another place ironing one day a week. When she can, she tries to work on Saturday as well.  Dambe has three children, a girl around 6, two boys around 12 and 15, one of whom is named David, I remember because it’s the same as my dad’s. I haven’t met any of them, but I’m pretty sure one of the reasons she works so hard is to keep them in school.

Tuesday morning I receive one of those texts telling me that one of her pikinini’s is sick so she couldn’t come. I thanked her for letting me know and tried not to make as much of a mess the rest of the week. Tonight, as I am sitting across from a student being interviewed, I receive another text from her aunt, telling me

mi tok save son boy blong dambe is die…

I double check to make sure that I read it right, her son died. I call her right away to find out how she was doing, ok, sort of futile because that’s about as much pisin as I can speak and she was in no place to talk. I had my student write her another text (in fluent pisin) to let me know if she needs anything. That’s all I can do. Or was it?

Is there medicine I could have purchased that would have prevented this?  Could they not get to a doctor?  I had assumed the illness wasn’t serious, she didn’t mention the previous week he was sick. I don’t know what it was, was it malaria?  That’s the most common here.  If it was, then medicine would have helped.


She replies to let me know she needs sampela koins long baim transport na kopin (she needs some money to transport the coffin).   I’m happy to help but wish I could be spending this money on a doctor, or medicine, rather than a coffin.


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