A sweet little girl named Sara died Saturday.
The news didn’t cover it. The Internet didn’t explode in outrage. Protesters didn’t mobilize to decry a senseless death.
But she was loved and is grieved. Individuals with names are crying over her. Individuals who matter not because I met them but because God made them.
Sara, 9 years old and full of joy and laughter, was one of the kids at the Children’s Nest Orphanage in Zambia, a place our church has partnered with for several years and that Tracy and I have each visited. Back in 2012, when I went, she must’ve been just 6, and I remember her dancing and twirling with my American teammate Sarah. I have pictures of them smiling together on my computer; I wish I could share one, but I’m working from my phone at camp and won’t have access for days.
It’s amazing what problems result from a simple lack of access. Sara, HIV positive, died because her body lacked the antibodies that would’ve prevented infection when she got burned by a candle. She lacked access to the medical care that might have made up that difference had she been in the U.S.
It’s maddening that the light she brought to the world was snuffed out by a candle.
Tragedies like these happen daily around the world. They break the hearts of the individuals who know them but are largely shrugged off generically by those who don’t, chalked up to inevitability and broad assumptions of people there being at fault. “Well, that’s what happens there,” people often say, as if those born into situations larger than them are somehow at fault. As if lives there don’t matter (unless, of course, they’re lions with names and fans).
Sara had a name. She had a personality, and it was beautiful and joyful and innocent and good. She was 9 years old and loved by her friends, by the adults working to care for them, and by her two sisters. She mattered, because she was a human being made by God in His image, created as a unique expression of His love for the world, a unique combination of gifts.
And many of us will miss her, even as we remember that she is far from pain and danger and sadness, dancing joyfully not with a friend or visitor but with her loving Father.
I just wanted you to know that.
Rest in peace, Sara.