(This message from Lauren, one of our interns working in the Children’s home in Zambia)
I arrived back to the House of Moses here in Zambia on Friday evening after a long but rewarding day doing family home visits out in local communities and villages. We visited the families that are on the Milk and Medicine program to assess the progress and health of the children. Community development in Africa is something that I am passionate about, so although the day was draining, I count it a privilege to be allowed into the homes of these families and to experience the atmosphere of their villages and way of life. Regardless of how many times you have been exposed to life in poverty-stricken communities, the experience never ceases to humble the heart and touch the spirit. It was therefore with a satisfied but heavy heart that I wearily walked back in to the House of Moses that evening.
It wasn’t long before a few different staff members asked whether I had seen the new baby who had arrived earlier that day. At being informed that the infant was only 2-3 weeks old, I put my things down and rushed over to the isolation receiving room, where new admissions are temporarily held. Before I walked into that room, I hadn’t realized that something so tiny could take up so much room in my heart. I walked over to the cot, not knowing what to expect. The sight that greeted me seemed to warm my heart and take my breath away at the same time. The most precious little girl, given the name Mary, was wrapped up and lying sound asleep. When the carer on duty in the receiving room picked her up for me to see, I was able take in just how small she is. Her size accurately reflected her meagre weight of just 2.2kg. (4 1/2 pounds)
As I learned of the details as to how Mary came to the House of Moses I began to understand why the infant was so weak and listless. I ran my fingers over the discolouration on Mary’s scalp and asked whether it was a birth mark. The carer looked at me, and in a desperate whisper, said “No! Do you know what they did to this baby? She was dumped in a pit latrine!” After she was dumped into the pit, Mary’s cries were heard by a stranger nearby, who subsequently found the infant and alerted officials. What I thought might have been a birth mark was fact a large scar that was forming from the wounds that Mary had acquired from landing in the pit and bumping her head. She was treated at the local hospital for a few days before being brought to the House of Moses by social welfare. The incident was on the news and the mother was found and taken into police custody.
I stared at the tiny form of life in front of me, a sense of disbelief at the wicked actions that we, as humans, are capable of doing. I understood that dumping babies is not uncommon in the developing world, and for them to survive these experiences is truly extraordinary? My heart went out to the little girl as I soaked in what a cruel welcome she had had into this world and I was then able to understand the listless, weak state that she was in. She didn’t even have the energy to cry, she just slept and slept. The carers wake her every two hours to feed and change, after which she continues sleeping soundly.
As I spent more time at her bedside that evening, I realized what a blessing it is to meet this tiny girl. Hearing about what she had been through and the miracle that she is indeed alive, it was ever so clear that God intended for this beautiful, special baby to live. If it weren’t for her crying in the pit, if it weren’t for the kind passerby that heard her crying, Mary would not still be alive. As I look at the scars on her sensitive and fragile head, I cannot understand how such a small baby, at a few days old, could possibly survive such a head wound. It fills me with wonder and anticipation at what God plans to do with this baby’s life. He certainly does have a purpose for the miracle that her life is.
Five days have now passed since Mary’s arrival. She spends the majority of the day and night fast asleep, with little crying or protest. She is feeding well and growing stronger as each day passes. She looks healthier and more lively; from my novice experience with babies she seems to recovering well. I won’t be surprised if she grows up to be a resilient, strong young lady. I pray that her head wound does not have any long term impacts on her development, and that God would continue to have His hand on her as she grows and strengthens in the days and years to come.