On May 31st, 2012 the Maxwell family boarded a plane and moved to eSwatini (formerly known as Swaziland) to live at Project Canaan. I hope to update my blog on Saturday mornings and share, as honestly as I can, the highs and lows of our life in Africa. We are living on a farm in a remote part of this tiny Kingdom and are serving the community as well as the orphans and vulnerable children of the nation. Thanks for joining us.
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Saturday, June 3, 2017
What is a "mushroom daycare"? You might not want to know.
You likely haven’t heard of a “mushroom daycare” before.I had not heard the term until a year
ago when we picked up a baby (Margie) from one such “center”.The reason it is called a
“mushroom daycare” is because there are many (literally dozens) of children
being cared for in a small, one room building in the dark with no exposure to
sunshine, daylight, proper food, stimulation or love.These children are growing like mushrooms, in the dark.
Please take a moment before reading on to stop and picture
that in your mind.
Here is what is happening.Young woman are getting pregnant often through false promises
of love/marriage/free KFC/money and/or and then there is incest and
rape.The “middle age” generation
has been wiped out by HIV/AIDS/TB and there is no one to care for the young
children back at home (which is typically what happened in the past). The young
mothers need to find work so they leave their children with a local “daycare”
person, which means an unofficial caregiver takes the children in to her home
for a month at a time and the mother should arrive with money at the end of the
month when they are paid.
Sometimes the young mother just runs away and never
returns, leaving more mouths to feed with less money. But how does the
caregiver find the mother?Sometimes
the mothers come and pay the daycare lady a small amount of money and then go
back to work, leaving the children living in the dark.
The result is an uncountable number of children living like
mushrooms around the country.I
hope I don’t get in trouble for writing this, as it is a well-known problem to
the police, hospitals and social welfare, with action being taken, but it’s a
huge challenge, in a country with lots of other challenges.No one wants the children being left at
home alone, so what other alternative is there?I believe this is a direct result of a missing generation.
Yesterday we welcomed a baby whom we call Wendy.She started off life in a bad way,
arriving three months early in her mother’s mud hut, weighing only 3.2
pounds.But she lived.Her young mother had no family to help
care for the baby (and her other two children) so she sent the 4 and 7-year old
to other homes and then took Baby Wendy to a local “daycare”.The baby got very little
food, nutrition, care or love.She
started to stop growing and was always sickly.
15-month-old baby weighing 6.6 pounds
When Baby Wendy was 15-months-old
(this past April) the mother took the child to a government hospital that has a
wonderful pediatrician and nutritionist who specialize in malnutrition.At that age, Wendy weighed only 6.6 pounds.After two months of specialized nutritional care, medical
care and a lot of love, Wendy was ready to be discharged.But the care that the mother could
provide wouldn’t be any better than what she had already given, so she begged
We brought home the 17-month-old
baby and she weighed 14.5 pounds (the size of a 5-month-old).It was a heartbreaking moment for all,
but joy-filled at the same time because now Wendy has hope for her future.
17-month-old baby now weighs 14.5 pounds
The nutritionist shared with me that she had lost 15+ babies
so far this year, in that small rural hospital, due to babies coming in too
malnourished to come back from the brink of death. She shared her pain and her frustration that these deaths
Another government official told me that she had found a
“mushroom daycare” recently with 40 small children living in the room, under
the table, just lying on the floor.They are working diligently to shut these unofficial daycares down, but
what is the alternative?I simply
don’t know the answer, but I do ask you to pray for the front line people who
are dealing with these real life situations every day, and rarely have a viable
solution to provide.
Today we have 158 children under the age of 7-years old
living at Project Canaan. We need
your help more than ever. If you can help give monthly, please sign up to be a
Heart for Africa Angel in the US or Canada.
If you want to help us today, please shop on our Amazon
registries in either the US or Canada and send little Wendy diapers and
wipes.Every dollar spent helps us
reduce our operating costs for these little ones.
Please pray for our staff who are tasked with the enormous
responsibility of helping each of our children heal with special care and a lot
of love.As my friend Denise said
last week, we are “loving them back to life”.Amen.
Live from Swaziland … I am praying for all the mushroom
babies in the country.