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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Confusion, lies and a new set of twins end up in the hospital

This was a whirlwind week beginning with a call from the Social Welfare department on Monday
morning saying there were three babies in desperate need.  We were already awaiting the arrival of a newborn (who at the time of this writing has still not appeared, despite an October 4th delivery date).

I was told that one of the babies was a newborn and was dropped in a pit latrine (I never get used to typing those words), but was not ready to be released from the hospital.  The others were 9-month old twins who were in a very serious situation (not to suggest that being dropped in a pit latrine is NOT a serious situation!).  Tuesday Helen and I made the drive to Siteki to visit the baby in hospital and pick up the twins.

The mother of the baby gave birth in a pit latrine that had not been finished yet.  I never thought that I would write this, but unfortunately there were no feces/urine in the pit latrine to catch the baby when it landed, and instead the child hit his tiny newborn head on the bottom of the 6’ deep hole.  The mother left the child and it was only 12 hours later that he was found by a family member who heard his cry. It is a miracle that this baby is still alive, but not without injury.  He has several large wounds on his head and an abscess of some kind (the size of my fist), so we will not receive him from the hospital until the surgeons are finished and confident in his recovery.

From there we drove to the office to pick up the 9-month-old twins. I am not quite sure how to explain what transpired in the minutes to come, other than to say that there was a lot of confusion, there were lies, and then suddenly we had a set of twins in the car.  Their story took twists and turns that started with them looking like they were 18-24 months old and ended with them not even looking like siblings or the same age (let alone twins – neighbors maybe?).  The problem is that our policy is to only intake children under the age of 12 months because there is such a great need here in Swaziland for a home for little babies.  We want to have space for children of that age when a hospital or Social Welfare office needs to place a baby.  Secondly, the little ones come with much less hurt and emotional challenges than the older ones, and so our first children can be the leaders of the younger ones in the future.

But God is God, His plans are not our (my) plans, and He cheated and tricked me. I was “hoodwinked” as Ian told me later.

The children were living 100 km from Siteki, which is a 90-minute drive from Project Canaan. The police were the ones who reported that the children had been abandoned, so they were asked to drive the babies to Siteki and we would meet them there “half way” so to speak. By the time we arrived, the police had dropped the babies at the government office and turned back home. We looked at the children and laughed because they were walking, likely talking and had a full set of teeth!  I told the Social Worker that there was no way that these children were 9-months old and she insisted that is what she had been told. Well, maybe that is what she had been told, but there was NO way that was the truth.
Then there was the confusion. The Aunt of the children was the one who told the police that the mother had abandoned the children at her front door step when she wasn’t there (in fact she didn’t arrive home for three more days!).  The father of the children is HIV positive and has fathered 22 other children, to her knowledge, and was focused on passing on the deadly disease to as many women as he could before he passed away.  He is living in South Africa now.  When we asked how the boy was so very dark and the girl so very light, we were told, “Oh, the mother is a Zulu and the father is Afrikaans, that is why”.  Oh brother.  That might be true, but the mother is not a cat!

And then it got worse.  What are the children’s names?  Well, the Aunt didn’t know because she hadn’t seen the babies in six months, so she named them Rose and Gabriel. Why those names?  Because the girl was as pretty as a rose, and the boy would be protected by the angel Gabriel.

I told the Social Welfare officer that I really didn’t think these children qualified to come to El Roi as they were too old, but she assured me that they were less than one year and I couldn’t say no.  Where else would they go?  And so Rose and Gabriel, our “twin 9-month old babies” came to El Roi that night and it became their home.  They are actually 22-months old, the eldest children at the El Roi home for abandoned babies.  (Just for the record, I do believe that my friend at Social Welfare had no idea that the children were more than a year when she first called me.  She was only working from information the police had given her).

We have some issues with these beautiful children. They are angry, afraid, very hungry and both showing signs of severe malnutrition.   While they look round and plump, they are suffering “Kwashiorkor,” a form of malnutrition that is caused by inadequate protein.  In fact, yesterday afternoon we had to admit them to the hospital because their condition is acute and in the final stages (life threatening) according to malnutrition doctors here in Swaziland.  They will be there for 10 -14 days and that means that a caregiver from the El Roi baby home must be with them 24 hours a day.  There is no question that they have been abandoned before and mistreated based on how they cling to/fight for food, scrounge for tiny kernels of rice left on the floor even after they have had a full meal, and how they will bite in self-defense even when self-defense is not required. 

We have a long road ahead with all of these children, but we know that the Creator of the Universe and God who SEES them has brought us all together and He will make the way straight as we continue to seek His will and direction.

Thank you for reading this blog and for your continued support and prayers.  I can honestly say that I am at peace about what we are doing here and I believe that I have the best job in the whole world.  The rains are starting to fall again, the vegetables are being harvested and sold, and the babies are starting to crawl and walk. God is good and I am thankful.

Live from Swaziland…we have 14 babies!


PS - Just want to shout out to Beth Blaisdell, Kim Kennedy, Pam McReynolds and Sherri Troyer from the US Bank who were visiting this week and were a huge gift in assisting with many moving parts and sick children.  Special thanks to Beth and Kim who did "night shift" at El Roi last night with Helen while Thabile was doing night shift at the hospital.  We are so thankful for your hearts and hands.


  1. Is adoption an option with any of these children?

  2. Janine , you continue to amaze me with what you are doing ..
    May GOD Bless you & those babies ... what a gift of life you are giving to ALL of those precious babies...
    I admire you for your courage to be living out your truth ...
    Hopefully one day I can come & help ... xx


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