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Saturday, March 31, 2018

If we didn’t take the baby, his death would be on our shoulders?

This little 14-month-old boy is a very sick child.

She was 43-years-old and had given birth to nine children.  The health card said that only four were still alive and that the last three died of malnutrition.  A cry for help was sent to the local social welfare office to try to save the 14-month-old boy who was dying from starvation in front of the family.  The neighbors couldn't stand to watch another child die in that family, but had nothing themselves to give.

We left Project Canaan at 7:00AM and drove for 70 minutes to the social welfare office.  From there we started the journey up mountains paths, down valleys, through the bush and stopped at four different homesteads trying to find the child in need.  9.5 hours later we would arrive back home.

At the last homestead we heard a crying baby inside the house and learned that the mother had just left to go find local home brew (marula) to drink away her pain. 

The whole situation was tragic.  We were told by family members that the mentally challenged mother was “feasted on” by her own father and her father’s brother (uncle) and that several of the nine children were fathered by them.  When we finally had all the family members together under a large tree, each of them begged us to take the baby, whom they recently discovered to be HIV positive (but not yet on treatment).    They each shared that if we did not intervene, then the child’s death would be on our shoulders, not theirs (a bit of twisted logic, but that is what they said).  Once the social worker had her report information to get affidavits and a court order, it was time for the Mother and Grandfather to sign the papers that we had allowing us to take the child at that moment.
This was the food that mom and baby shared.

The baby was given black tea to drink.
Neither the mother nor her father could read or write so the document was read to them in siSwati. Then we took an ink pen and scribbled it on their right thumb so that they could make their “mark” with their thumbprint – handing us the baby.  While I have seen that many times, it always jars me back to the reality that we are living in here and what a lack of education can do for the whole family.

Putting ink on mom's thumb so she can "sign" her signature with a mark of ink.
The baby boy is sick, has a bad ear infection and just cries all the time. He is miserable and in pain (possibly going through alcohol withdrawl as he was being breast fed).  But with medication, proper nutrition, proper rest, lots of love and prayer, he will heal, both physically and emotionally.

We arrived back home just before 5:00 PM and 15-minutes later another social worker arrived with a 10-day old baby girl. Her teenage mother had been raped by a neighbor and she didn’t want anything to do with the baby. To make things worse the neighbors were threatening the life of the mother and her baby if she pursued justice against the rapist. The baby was placed with us and they are finding a place of safety for the teenage girl.

Rachelle Ferguson, holding baby Norma (named in memory of Rachelle's mother).
We have 184 tiny souls living at Project Canaan now and at times it is overwhelming to think about our roles in their lives. And why us??  We knew very little about Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS or malnutrition before we moved here.  We had never done land planning or development, had never raised chickens or dairy cattle or worked in the field of aquaponics.  One of the many things that we have learned is that HE equips those whom He calls, He rarely calls the equipped.  Why? Because this way He gets ALL the glory.

As you celebrate Easter with your family this weekend I ask that you take some quiet time and pray for our children, pray for our staff, and pray for our family. I miss being with Spencer and Chloe on the most important weekend of they Christian calendar, but will enjoy watching our small children act out the Easter play at church tomorrow. Be sure to check out the Heart for Africa Facebook page tomorrow for Easter photo cuteness!

Live from Swaziland … He is risen indeed!

This was the tiny door that we squeezed through to eventually get the baby boy.

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