difference as well as within a situation of economic misery and political repression” and this inner conflict flayed the author’s sensibilities initially. But, this rampant casualness of the mothers, “and with the gentle coaching of my Alto friends, I eventually learned to ‘distance’ myself from the deaths and to pick and continue, as they did, with the strands of my life.” As she says (page 16) that the sheer “moral outrage” gripped her when she went back home among what we know as a moral society.
The incident of delivery of Lordes’ baby, the older women neighbors “more interested in bleeding the rest of the chicken for the birthing meal” and Vladimir digging a grave outside the hut for the yet to be born infant, gives a clear picture of the complicity of the Alto women in the death of infants and babies.
The stark reality is again related by the author (page 10) “Whether they worked on the plantations or in the homes of the rich, Alto women had to leave their babies (even newborns) at home unattended or watched over by siblings, sometimes barely more than babies themselves. These constraints on infant tending, imposed by the economic realities of Alto life, contributed to an exceedingly high infant and child mortality.”
In the make-shift crèche that the author helped develop, the infants were tended to and fed with a pap-like milky gruel made from Food for Peace donated powdered skimmed which were “fortified as best as we could with vitamin A drops.” Sick infants were given mingaus “made from fresh goat’s milk donated by Alto women.” The older babies and toddlers could feed on a “stew” made of donated carrots, onions, potatoes and squash added to Food for Peace bulgar. Sometimes this was made more relishing with scraps of beef and entrails donated by the local butchers. Alto babies “thrived” in the crèche (page 12). Compare this to earlier scenes depicted in (page10) “Smoky, fly-infested huts, hungry toddlers,