This morning my yard meri Teya came to my door close to tears. Her second-born child, a daughter, died on Wednesday. She was coming to collect her pay and to let me know that she wouldn’t come to work for a month.
According to Teya’s story, her daughter was working in the garden, and just fell down dead. I wasn’t too surprised to hear what came next. “Ol I poisinim em” (they poisoned her). You see, in a traditional Papua New Guinean mindset, no one ever just dies of natural causes. Death is not blamed on germs, or disease or old age. Bad things happened because of some sort of imbalance in the spiritual realm. And “poison”, or black magic, is often blamed for these sorts of unexplainable deaths. Unfortunately, this is often the start of many tribal conflicts. The grieving family must find out who is responsible for the poison, and retaliate.
Teya and her husband have worked for us for over two years, and we always had the impression that they were very devout Christians. But it’s amazing to see how quickly these traditional beliefs surface when something like this happens.
Teya’s daughter was married and had a young child (less than two years old). It sounds like there is some conflict about who will care for the baby, since there had been some marital problems. Please pray for this family, that they would meet God in their time of grief, and that they would not resort to retaliation for this young lady’s death.