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Saturday, October 20, 2012

It's a girl!

This week was an interesting week in farm living.  While the real rainy season hasn’t started yet, there has been lots of rain to water the crops and prepare the big fields for planting.  As I may have written before, we have a 50-minute drive each morning to take Chloe to her school bus.  Then she has another 40-minute bus ride to school.  That all reverses in the afternoon.  It’s makes for a long day, but the school is an incredible International School so well worth the effort.  On Wednesday there had been so much rain that when Ian and Chloe got to the bridge they found the river had risen six feet with two feet of fast flowing water submerging the bridge.   Growing up in Northern Ontario I was used to seeing six-foot banks of snow, but never a six-foot rise in water!  So that was Chloe’s first “snow day”, or “water day” we can call it here.

Then there was the new lawn service that Ian hired. Our lawn mower didn’t quite fit in our shipping container and remains in Georgia, but the grass around our house is growing like crazy due to the rains. What did my “think outside the box” husband do?  He asked the guys on the farm to bring the goats up!  I got home from seeing three of our babies who were in hospital and there they were, eating the grass all around our house.  It was hilarious and a perfect solution.

Now to the new baby girl.  As I have mentioned in past blogs “baby dumping” is a huge problem here in Swaziland and is one that the Hospitals, Police, Child Protection Services and the Social Welfare office are working diligently to try to stop.  I was asked by the police to meet a young woman who had been violently raped at knifepoint by a man in a woolen mask.  She had no way and no desire to care for the baby who was a result of the rape and the police were trying to prevent another baby dumping statistic by offering her a potential solution for the child.  She already had 2-year old twin boys and her parents kicked her their homestead because her father thought she had been promiscuous and didn’t believe the story of her attack.  She took me to the room she lives in with her boys and since our first meeting in August she has become like a daughter to me.

Their dwelling place is in a row house on the outskirts of Matsapha.  The room is 8 feet by 8 feet and the walls and floor are made of mud.  She and her beautiful boys sleep on a 2 inch thick piece of foam, there is a small plastic bucket beside the foam which is their toilet and a couple of crates where she stores all of their other belongings (soap, bread, a small box of shelf stable milk and a papaya or paw paw as we call them here).  From the several times we have been together I would say she is a good mother who loves her boys dearly, but struggles to provide for them.  She earns $100 US per month and now that her parents won’t help care for the twins, she must pay $38 US per month for childcare and $12 for house rent.  There is no electricity or running water.  A new and unwanted baby would simply put her over the edge.  She did not want the baby and could not keep the baby.

Yesterday morning a 5AM I received a call from my new friend.  She was in labor and asked if I could come and take her to the hospital.  I had such mixed emotions while I quickly got dressed and ready (and my wonderful husband made me coffee to go).  I was excited about this new life that was about to arrive.  Jeremiah 1:5 says, Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” While this young mother was not responsible for conceiving this baby, the Lord knew this baby even before He formed her in her mother’s womb.  What would this child be set apart to be? A loving mother?  A nurse?  A teacher?  A prophet to the nations?

Mixed in with that excitement was the knowledge that my young friend had a day of pain to endure without the usual “prize” at the end of labor.  When I was in labor with Spencer and Chloe I could console myself through the pain knowing that my own child would be with me at the end of it all and for that it was all worth it.  Not for this young mom. She would endure 18 hours of labor, much of it outside the delivery room doors on a pavement floor watching all the other women go through stages of labor.    When the baby’s head started to crown, she would walk in through the doors that says, “If you are not in labor, do not enter”.  What they really mean is, “if the baby isn’t on his/her way out of your body, do not enter”.

Yesterday I had a really good visit, and several heart to heart talks with this lovely young woman while we watched each pregnant woman, one by one, enter through the ominous doors.  Inside there were ten beds in an open area where they would lie down and deliver their precious bundles.  There was no pain medication, no epidurals to take the edge off, but there was horrific cries, guttural groaning and hair raising screams that could defer any woman from every having sex again (sorry to any young readers).  They would slowly enter the door in their street clothes and less than 30 minutes later would come out through the same door in the same clothes.  A nurse would carry a big bundle of blankets with a tiny, wet, newborn baby buried somewhere deep below.  The mother and bundle would go to the maternity ward and new life and family would begin.

The same thing happened for my friend, but when she exited the door (exhausted and in pain) there was no joy. It was a bittersweet moment.  I was so excited to meet this little girl who would come and live at Project Canaan for the rest of her life, but didn’t want to be insensitive to a mother who didn’t really want to see the baby or nurse her for the night.

This little girl has two names.  The first is “Hope” because in this one case we were able to avoid a baby being dumped or abandoned because of the hopelessness of the mother.  She is also called “Happiness” because the mother told us that she was able to find joy again knowing that strangers were there to help her. 

Once I post this blog I will shower, pour another cup of coffee and head in to the hospital.  Ian, Helen and I will drive the mom back home, pick up her twins from the neighbor and help her get settled in. We have a car full of healthy food for her boys and ready to eat food for her (boiled eggs, fruit etc).   Baby Hope will come home with us and we will visit mom and boys as often as possible, checking in to make sure they are okay.

We have so much to be thankful for this week.  Baby Joy, Rose and Gabriel were all discharged from the hospital (we spent 4 hours in the pediatric ward and 6 hours at labor and delivery in the same hospital) and are recovering from pneumonia and malnutrition.  God is good and He is faithful and I clearly saw His mighty hand at work in each and every situation this week.  I stand in awe of His goodness and mercy, even when I don’t understand all that I see, but I am trying to give thanks in all things.

Live from Swaziland … I need to start packing to fly to Taiwan on Tuesday!


PS - Saturday afternoon update.  Sadly the water at the hospital went off at 4AM so when we arrived to pick up mom and baby, neither had been washed since child birth.  Since she doesn't have water at home we had to buy bottled water for her to bathe the parts that need clean water.  Sigh.  

1 comment:

  1. Dear Janine

    What an incredible story of hope! I have personally "adopted" Hope over the miles. She has become my little girl that I will sincerely pray for daily. Her mother also...who desperately needs hope. I pray that God's hand of providence will provide an abundance in her life. May the seeds of hope and love take root in her heart and support her through her difficult situation.
    Our trials seem minuscule in light of what is happening to others around the world. I pray that God's purpose and plan for this mother and her little girl Hope will be made plain to her....and give her the strength to live each day.