Sign up to receive this blog by email

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The burned baby has burned a hole in my soul.

child's face hidden to protect him.
I have horrific photos of this child's burns, but it would not be right to post them publicly.

Since I first heard about the baby who was lit on fire by his own father I have not been able to rest. My heart hurts and my head is confused. How could this happen? What kind of a man lights his 18-month old baby on fire?  It’s the same kind of man who beats his 15-month old baby (same child) so badly around the head and buttocks that the child has to be hospitalized.  But no charges were laid on this man and the boy was taken back home after his wounds healed.

Two months later this same man was angry at his son for “soiling” himself.  The same reason he beat him in January. Yes, this 18-month old isn’t quite toilet trained yet and soiled himself, so to punish him the father lit his bum on fire to teach him a lesson.

Each day I think about this, have conversations about it or pray about it I get more and more angry.

I got home late Tuesday night from my US visit and went straight to deal with this situation on Wednesday morning.  We are being asked by the mother and Social Welfare office to bring the baby to the El Roi Baby home when he is well enough to be discharged from the hospital because the father is determined to kill the child when he is released from prison.  This boy we call Benjamin will hopefully find his permanent home on Project Canaan, if that will keep him safe from harm.

As I was reviewing the whole situation Shirley gave me the original newspaper article about the child, which just fueled my anger even more (see article below).  This man intentionally lit his son on fire (for pooping his pants), the child has THIRD degree burns, no second-degree burns, AND then he HID the child for FIVE DAYS so no one would see what he had done.  Further more, when the children was found and taken to the hospital he demanded that the child go to the government hospital instead of the semi-private hospital because the nurses would recognize him from the January child-beating incident.

All I want to do is go and visit the father in prison with a diaper, some lighter fluid and a pack of matches.  But I am told I can’t visit. Why?  Because if the child comes to live with us it will be to protect him from this monster and I should not identify myself to him so that the child remains safe.  (Maybe Quinton Tarantino is available to go “medieval” on him?)

When I left the US I had a suitcase full of top-of-the line burn supplies and treatment, but we can’t get them to the child until we have Guardianship.  We can’t mandate or direct how a hospital gives care, and it is a dangerous road (and potentially dangerous to the patient) to start interfering with hospital treatment or care.  We don’t want to step on toes, but need to gently navigate through the system to help the child.  We have funding to move the child to a private hospital where he will get his bandages changed every 12 hours, rather than every 48+ hours, and a team of people working on a plan for skin grafting and surgery.  But it all takes time, wisdom and patience, which is not one of my best virtues.

We are praying without ceasing this weekend that the politics and process surrounding this case will be cleared on Monday and we will be allowed to help the child, and the mother (who has left 3 other children uncared for while staying at the hospital for the past month).  We hope that we can help this whole family in some way, starting with food (Manna Packs from Feed My Starving Children), clothing and TOMS Shoes as their clothes are rags and they have no shoes.  It won’t solve all of their problems, but it will help for today and tomorrow, while we try to help in the long term with the little one.

I am frustrated, but I know that God’s timing is always perfect and when we couldn’t remove the boy yesterday I knew there was a reason.  So today I sit and blog to keep me focused and remind myself that this is all HIS plan, not my plan and I am only invited to be a small part of it.  I ask you to pray with me that a clear path is made and that confusion put aside.

On a happy note we received and unloaded a container filled with supplies for the Sisekelo preschool and the EL ROI Baby Home today, sent by our friends at the US Bank and shipped by the UPS Foundation.   This is great news for all of the children living at EL ROI and little Benjamin who will one day attend school there.

Live from Swaziland … I am thankful that this is where I live and serve.



  1. I can feel your pain and frustration reading the blog today...REMEMBER: One day at a time... May God continue to bless you and your family for your sacrifice and service!

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.