Six Month Old Girl Abandoned in Philippines
In Naga City Philippines a local Social worker, the University Outreach Director and their attorney came to our project partner and admitted “this one is beyond our ability, can you help us please”. Six month old Janet is the youngest of 5 children who had been abandoned first by the father who went to Manila looking for work, and later by their mother who went looking for the father. Neither ever returned. Care for the children fell to the grandmother who struggled with acute hunger herself and had no money, no work, no family, and no means of feeding 5 grandchildren.
Janet was immediately admitted to the pediatric ward of the hospital and slowly nurtured back to health by the nurses and nuns. She clung to life by a thread when she arrived, weighing less than 11 pounds, her swollen stomach betrayed advanced malnutrition as she had survived thus far on daily servings of “ams” (a liquid made from boiling rice grains over and over) and the inside of her mouth was filled with sores which made receiving milk or soft bread painful for her.
Janet’s scalp was crusted with grime that needed to be soaked off with warm oil, and because she had been kept in a dark room since her birth, she was sensitive to sunlight and tried to shield her eyes from the light and color. Janet has never been heard to cry in spite of all her suffering and she does not yet talk, but she is beginning to move around in her crib and strength is returning to her tiny limbs.
Child Abandonment Syndrome is an unofficial umbrella term that describes many symptoms suffered by abandoned children. Symptoms may be physical and/or mental, and may extend into adulthood and perhaps throughout a person’s life and include alienation from the environment – withdrawal from social activities, resistance towards others. Guilt, fearfulness and insecurity (clinginess), depression, nightmares and sleep disorders, lack of energy, and anger are often outgrowths of this syndrome. Some of these symptoms are reversible in some cases with sufficient care and tenderness, others are not.
Arrangements to place Janet’s four brothers and sisters were made but Janet requires intensive care, much loving kindness and attention which she receives in her new family. The long term impact of such abasement and neglect will take time to unfold and discover, but Janet is now in the hands of compassionate caregivers who will give her every advantage in recovering from the shock of her abandonment.