|Baby Hope at 2.5 month old|
Saturday, March 9, 2013
"Do for one person what you wish you could do for every person" - Andy Stanley
If you are a faithful reader of this blog you may be tired of hearing about babies who have been found in pit latrines or in the bushes, and I don’t blame you. Today I am not reading about a sad story, but rather a story with a happy ending. Do you remember back in my October 13th blog I wrote about a young woman who gave birth to “Baby HOPE” and simply couldn't keep the baby? Well, today I have a wonderful update on that young woman whom I shall call “Jabu”.
Jabu grew up in rural Swaziland and when she was old enough she left home to get a job in town. As often happens she met a young man and “fell in love”. Love turned to sex and sex turned to a set of boy twins for this single mother. The father didn’t work and wasn’t able to provide for the boys, but he did come and visit from time to time.
One day Jabu was walking through the woods to visit her boyfriend when she was attacked by a man and could not get away. He held a large knife to her throat and brutally raped her, then left her to carry on. She turned back and went home to her one-year old boys, ashamed, afraid and injured. She kept the rape a secret until she discovered that she was pregnant, only a few weeks later. The pregnancy was bad news and she did not want that baby. She could hardly care for the two that she already had and besides, this was clearly an unwanted child. Twice she tried to abort the baby, but it didn’t work on either attempt. Finally she went to her Pastor who discouraged her from trying to kill the baby and encouraged her go to the police to report the rape. She did just that.
The police (and Pastor) had a bad feeling that this young mother might dump the baby when it was born because she was in a desperate situation. The room she was living in was made of mud and was not safe for her and her boys, and a little baby would make life more impossible than it already was. She worked hard on a 13-hour shift, six days a week and made $100 US each month. She had to walk an hour to and from work and had to give almost half of her pay to an old woman to care for her twins. There is no way she could care for a new baby. She decided to go home and tell her parents about the rape and ask for their help. They accused her of being “loose” and didn’t believe the story of the rape. They kicked her and the twins out of the homestead and told her that she was never to come back as she had shamed the family. Jabu had nowhere to go.
One day I received a call from the police asking if I would meet Jabu and convince her that if she gave birth to the baby and didn’t harm it that we would bring the baby to the El Roi Baby Home. I agreed and that was the day that Jabu and I became friends. I started visiting her and her boys regularly, bringing food when I could, driving her to work a few times to help her tired body rest while she continued with her pregnancy. Through our visits and conversations I came to believe that this was a very hard-working woman who loved her children dearly and cared for them well. I have a good friend back in the US who read my blog about Jabu and started sending me money so that I could buy essentials for this little family. Then the happy day arrived and I had the privilege of taking Jabu to the hospital for Baby Hope to be born.
It was a happy day for me, not so happy for Jabu, but the baby came and she was perfect. We drove Jabu back home, bought some “post birth” essentials for her and then left her with her boys.
Now… I do have some readers who are very angry that we don’t help the mothers more and only care for the babies. In most cases we never meet the mothers and in this case the mother didn’t want the baby, but Jabu and I had become friends and I wanted to help her if I could.
Since October the Project Canaan team and I have been trying to figure out a way to have Jabu and the twins come and live at Project Canaan, but we could never make it work. There was no safe place for her to live and if she worked at Project Canaan there was no one to care for her twins. We went around and around in circles and kept coming to a dead end. Each time we would stop and pray and ask the Lord to find a way.
Yesterday we found a way.
Yesterday Jabu and her twins moved to Project Canaan and I hope that this is their permanent home.
They are temporarily living in the Farm Manager Building (FMB). That only became possible when Denis arrived back from Kenya with his wife and two young girls. Now there are other children there and a mother to care for them while Jabu goes to work.
We got the details sorted yesterday morning and called Jabu to ask if she was ready to come on Friday. She said, “NO, I want to come today! Come and get me at 3PM please. I will be ready.” So we did. At 3PM Thabile, Chloe and I drove to Matsapha and help Jabu pack up all of her worldly belongings. She had a small overnight bag with their clothes, a garbage bag with their blankets and a wash bucket filled with miscellaneous items that didn’t fit in to the other two categories. An hour later we had groceries and arrived at Project Canaan to bring them to their new home.
I was so happy that the entire FMB Family was there to greet them. We took them to their room and Jabu was so surprised to see two beds in the room. Those are the first beds that they have ever slept on and she was happy, the boys were confused. They got unpacked and spent the evening in the kitchen while everyone prepared a welcome dinner. I went home with Chloe and tried to process the many emotions that I was feeling.
You have heard me say this before, but this is a good opportunity to say it again… our Pastor Andy Stanley encourages us to not be overwhelmed by the size of the problems in front of us. He says, “Do for one person what you wish you could do for every person”. I don't know what the future holds for Jabu and her boys, or if she will even like living in the middle-of-nowhere-Swaziland. Only God knows, and that is okay with me. We must do what we can do to help others help themselves. Jabu is well on her way to provide for her family and make a good life for herself.
My goal and prayer is to build a very simple six room building (each room 12’ x 12’) with a shared kitchen, toilet and running water, that six women can move in to with their families. We are calling this project the Sicalo Lesisha Kibbutz for Women and we are starting to fundraising for it now. Each of the rooms will cost $10,000 (that includes the building of all the common areas). If you are interested in helping us provide a permanent home for Jabu and her sons please let me know. My prayer is that Nomsa from my wednesdayswithnomsa.blogspot.com will be the second person living at Sicalo Lesisha when she is discharged from the TB Hospital. By the way Sicalo Lesisha means “New Beginning” in siSwati. The women at El Roi chose the name.
Live from Swaziland … I have a new friend living on Project Canaan.