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Saturday, June 16, 2012

16-years-old, HIV positive, and pregnant with her third child

On Thursday we got a call from the Social Welfare department saying that there was an 8-month-old baby boy who was in desperate need of help.  On Friday morning Helen and I dropped Chloe off at her school bus at 6:45AM and then headed to Siteki  to see what we could do.

We met with the Social Welfare officer who introduced us to the baby, and his mother.

The baby’s mother is 16-years-old, HIV positive, and pregnant with her third child.  The first child is being raised by the father’s family.  The father of the second child (the one in her arms in front of us) ran off and abandoned them both.  The father of the baby in her belly is dead.  She had so much pain, so much sorrow and a face that was totally without hope.

She was living with her step-sister because all of her family is gone she had no where else to go, but the step-sister’s boyfriend didn’t want to have to provide for the little baby and the new one on way so he kicked out of the house.  She had no where to live, and no way to care for her child(ren).  She went to the Social Welfare office to see if someone could care for her baby, while hoping to be able to abort her unborn child. 

We agreed to take the baby to El Roi and she seemed satisfied.  We also agreed to receive the newborn in August if she promised not to harm the baby.  She agreed.

As the official paper work was completed we discovered that the baby we were taking with us turns one-year-old on Sunday, June 17th.  He is the size of a 4-month-old and is severely malnourished.  His hair is sparse and a light orangy color. He has a distended belly and his “poop” is the color of sand since there are no nutrients in his body.   Despite his condition he has seven teeth (our first baby with teeth!!) and he smiled at us in the office.

Papers were signed and as we headed to the car.  I asked the Social Welfare officer how this young mother would be feeling at this moment?  Scared?  Desperate?  Mourning?  She told me that the girl was happy that her baby would be cared for and sure enough, the girl smiled and laughed as she handed her baby to Helen.  I am not sure how to interpret this.  Happy that the baby will be well cared for or happy that she no longer carries that burden … or both?

We drove straight to the Baylor Pediatric AIDS clinic and had him tested and weighed.  He is HIV negative (THANK YOU JESUS!) and he weighs 12 pounds, 12 ounces (and remember, he is one year old).  We have a long way to go with this little one to get him healthy and happy, but that time begins today and we are thankful for the opportunity to serve him.
We asked what his siSwati name meant in English and we were told that it means “God with us”, so this little one will be called Emmanuel, God with us.

It has been another challenging week, but I am thankful for all that we have been given.  Our summer interns arrived yesterday and today they started sorting thousands of pairs of TOMS Shoes, preparing them for distribution to the children who live in our rural church communities.  Tomorrow we hang curtains, harvest our Moringa crop and build a dog pen for our newest addition to the Maxwell family (her name is Nala).  It’s Saturday morning in Swaziland and we are all alive and well.

Thanks for following, reading and praying. 



  1. nice posting.. thanks for sharing.

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