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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Please take my baby … I am dying.



It was Wednesday and she reminded me of Nomsa (wednesdayswithnomsa.blogspot.com). She was young, very thin, very sick, but still I could tell she was bright, smart and once had hope for her future.  Then a Mozambican man came along and swept her off her feet, on to her back, and then he was gone. 

She was left with a 6-year old son from another man and a newborn baby, born on September 15, 2014, who is HIV positive.  This young mother passed on her positive HIV/AIDS status to her baby and then discovered that she also had the dreaded Tuberculosis …often referred to as the “best friend” of HIV/AIDS.  Maybe that explained why she was so sick, and why she couldn’t make milk to feed her baby, and why her baby ended up at the hospital in the malnutrition ward for FIVE weeks, without her (she had TB so couldn’t go in the pediatric ward). 

This young woman was hopeless and helpless.  When the baby was discharged from the hospital last Tuesday, she was sent home with 5 days worth of Formula, and on Sunday the Formula ran out.  On Monday and Tuesday the little baby only got water (not clean filtered water) with a bit of sugar and salt added to it.  By Wednesday the baby was failing and the young mother didn’t know what to do.

She reached out to her mother through her own shame and guilt and begged for help. The Grandmother to the baby had nothing to help her with, so she went to the Social Welfare Office and begged for help. Couldn’t someone please take this 10-week old baby, who then weighed 5.7 pounds and was losing weight. 

After phone calls were made and reports written I was called and asked if the El Roi Baby home could help.  I said yes, got in the car with PJ Bach and Kristi Crockett and headed to town. 

Our day ended visiting the home of the young mother, where she had the baby wrapped up and ready to give away. My heart was so heavy.  Wouldn’t it be better if the baby could stay with the mother or Grandmother?  Couldn’t we help this young woman and keep the family together? There had to be another solution other than the baby being placed at the El Roi Baby Home. 

I have airbrushed their eyes for privacy purposes.
And then she said it.  She looked at me in the eyes and said, “Please take my baby”.  

Why?  Because she was dying, and hopeless.  She couldn't make enough milk to feed her baby. She only received $50 US/month in income to support herself and $25 US of that went to pay the rent.  She couldn’t care for the baby in her small room because the baby would likely contract her Tuberculosis and the Grandmother couldn’t take the child. To make things even worse, this young woman had no way to get to and from the Pediatric AIDS clinic, and was too weak to travel anyway, so the baby had not yet started her life-saving HIV/AIDS treatment. 

Tears started to flow down her face and I asked her if she was sad.  She looked straight at me, wiped the tears and said, “No, I am SO HAPPY.  Now my baby will live.” 

Another bittersweet day in Swaziland.  Baby Megan is now with us and after several days of throwing up she is now taking high-calorie formula and sleeping soundly. She will start on her Anit-retrovirals on Tuesday and we will continue to pray for her health and the health of her mother, older brother and a country filled with hopelessness.  May they see The Light during this season as we celebrate the birth our the only real HOPE that any of us have. 

Live from Swaziland … sometimes life here is just too real.

Janine

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