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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Father lit his 18-month old baby boy on fire?

Having one foot in “first world” and one foot in “third world” is very disturbing and it is divisive to my soul.

I have been visiting the United States for two weeks and have had two weeks of "extremes".  

I started my travels in “Sin City” Las Vegas where I was invited to be a part of the MedAssets Business Summit with 4,000 other people staying in a hotel that has almost as many rooms (3,309) as we have people in the community surrounding Project Canaan (3,500).  I then got to visit a small town in Texas where the people love Jesus, the Rattlesnakes are waking up and the Tumbleweeds are blowing across the road as you drive past beautiful Cattle Ranches and farms that are feeding America. I can only imagine that one day Project Canaan will be a farm that feeds Swaziland! 

Next, I spent two nights in Georgia with women from the US Bank who have big corporate jobs, but even bigger hearts.  At one well-planned dinner they successfully raised $34,000 to help educate and bring life-changing jobs to women of Swaziland.  While Lori Marschall and Rona Nix were busy in California raising funds for me to have a good, used, 4 x 4 vehicle “baby rescue” vehicle that will navigate the rough roads of Swaziland, the women from WOMENETICS provided me with a brand new Porsche 911 to drive to Florida to see Spencer (!).  It is SO COOL!  

The best part of the whole trip has been getting to visit Spencer!!  He is studying “Business Marketing" at Florida State University (home to 44,000 students, which is half the total population of the Capitol City of Mbabane, Swaziland) and for his extra-curricular activity he is a part of the FSU High Flying Circus.  We get to see him perform several times this weekend  and it makes me wonder if the babies at El Roi will one day have incredible opportunities like that?!  I am thankful to be here and a very proud mama.

Ian and I are so very proud of Spencer and Chloe.
It has been two weeks of extremes, from locations to conversations, but my “snap back into my other reality” came when I received a phone call from Swaziland last week.

There was good news and bad news.   The good news was that Baby #28 had arrived at El Roi and little 10-day old Elisha was happy and healthy.

The bad news rocked my world.  We were contacted by the Social Welfare Department to see if we could make room for and care for an 18-month old baby boy, who had been badly burned by his father.  I asked Shirley and Ian to gather more information and it slowly came to me as the week progressed. Here is some of what we know, and what I feel that I can share with you at this time, while still maintaining some privacy for the family.

“Social problems” as they are called in Swaziland, are always complicated, so I will try to explain this as simply as possible.
-       Woman was married to a man who died a couple of years ago.
-       Woman lives at her dead husbands homestead with his family and has nowhere else to live.
-       Woman gets pregnant by another man (we do not know the circumstances of this pregnancy).
-       Baby is born, but “culture” does not permit a baby from another man to live with the mother in her husbands homestead so baby has to go live with his Grandmother (biological Father’s mother)
-       In January 2013 (baby was 15-months old) the father beat the baby badly around the face.  The issue was settled “culturally” between the families (?) and no police report was made.
-       On March 13th 2013 the Grandmother was working in the fields and came in and found the baby crying.  She called him to come and saw that he could not walk.
-       Grandmother found severe burns covering his buttocks and genitals.
-       I saw a photo of this baby in the newspaper at the end of March and the burns were horrific.  They showed his backside and it looked as if the baby was wearing a diaper and it had been lit on fire.
-       The father said he had accidently spilled boiling water on the boy, but the family does not believe this and neither do the doctors.
-       The father is now in prison.
-       The baby is at the Government hospital and while I want to show full respect for that hospital in this blog, I will say that I do not believe that they have the resources to give this child the care he needs to survive and recover.  I have been there and this child needs private care.
-       When the child is released from the hospital he will need somewhere safe to live. The mother has asked that we take him because she can’t take him to her “home” and the father will be released from prison. The whole family is very concerned about what the father will do when he is released.

The problem is complicated.  I am 8,500 miles away. Once I get back I will be taken to meet the mother, the Grandmother and I will go to the prison to meet the father, but in the meantime I sit on the other side of the planet and think about the pain that this boy and his mother are going through. The next step is to get this child proper care so that he can have a chance at a “normal” life.

I don't know what the future holds as there are many questions that still need answering. I don’t know if this child is to come to the El Roi baby home or if the mother and child are to come and live in the Sicalo Lesisha Kibbutz, but I do know that EL ROI sees them both and has a plan, and we can help.

I do know that we can do something now, today.  Shirley and Ian have secured a bed at a private hospital in Swaziland who we believe can provide excellent care for this child.  I can’t imagine what this would cost in America, but in Swaziland the cost for the next 60 days is almost $30,000 US, not including surgeries, skin grafts or other things that might be needed.

I know that $30,000 can feed a lot of children or provide care for many babies, but I think about what if the baby was Spencer or Chloe?  What if the baby who has massive burns on 20% of his whole body, and in the most private areas was YOUR child?  If it were my child I would stop at nothing to get him/her proper care.  This mother has no options, she has no one to call, no one to email and no one ask for financial assistance.  She is hopeless.  But I know that she is praying and asking God for help and He is her only hope. She is crying out daily for Him to send an angel and I am hoping that angel is reading this blog.

I will give you all an update after I get back home, but in the meantime I am hoping to raise a minimum of $20,000 so that we can commit to the mother that we will help her and move the baby to a different hospital. Yesterday I posted this need on Facebook and received $1,000 and I am so thankful for those early responders.  We have a long way to go, but I have faith that He will provide.

If you can give today please click here to make a secure donation.  Alternatively you can mail a check to:   Heart for Africa US,  P.O. Box 758 Cape Girardeau, MO 63702
Heart for Africa Canada, P.O. Box 246, Dept HOPE, Pickering, Ontario, L1V 2R4

I live in a world of extremes. I struggle having one foot in “first world” and the other foot in “third world”.  I long to be at home with my husband, my other babies and my Swazi family, but I give thanks for the opportunity to be here in this blessed country and I give thanks for every opportunity that I am being given while here.

Live from Florida … I am going back to the High Flying Circus today (and praying for a baby 8,500 miles away).



  1. Dear Janine
    This blog is full of joy and pain! Thanking God for the blessings of your trip, and praying for that precious baby and his mother.

  2. I think it all can't be changed quickly, because to change live, You need to change people's mentality. And it takes ages...


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