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, August 17, 2019
I saw trauma on this 1-year-old’s face
In the past seven days we have received five babies – it’s
been a busy week.Three of them have
been newborns, one left in the bushes shortly after birth and two born to young
women who had no way to care for their babies and no father who would claim
paternity. In fact, late yesterday
afternoon we were called for an emergency pick up of a baby who was born only
four hours earlier! Then there was the
18-month-old who was starving to death and was admitted to the hospital for
care.When he was ready for discharge,
the family asked that he be placed somewhere there is food and love.He came to us.
Today I want to tell you about a little guy we are calling
Roderick. While his social history “common” here, the trauma that I saw in his
young face was very new to me.I am not
a child psychologist or specialist, but I saw what I saw, and I am going to try
to explain it to you.
This little boy was abandoned by his mother, often left with
strangers for days at a time. The police tell us that she is a known drunkard
and a problem in the community. Last week she left her baby boy with someone
for more than a week before that “someone” took the child to the police. The
police took the child to the hospital and the social workers at the hospital
called us.When I went to pick him up he
had no health card, no name, no birthdate, nothing.
Our nurse Hannah did a full physical and developmental
assessment and said he was physically the size of a 5 to 7-month-old baby, but
we knew that he was severely malnourished, so taking that in to consideration,
along with the developmental assessment, we gave him a birthdate of August 19,
2018, meaning that he is almost 1-year-old.
Roderick (left) is estimated to be a month older than Boaz (right)
We gave him the name of Roderick, and the surname of Dlamini
(which is the King’s name and we give all abandoned babies that surname). He is
the happiest little guy, smiling at everyone, jabbering in baby talk and eating
everything that is in front of him.
A couple of days after his arrival I was called to say that
the police had found his mother and she was in jail. We didn’t get his date of
birth, but we did get his name. For today’s blog I will call him Thando.I went down to the baby home to see if he
would know his name if I called it, and what happened shocked me.
I stood on the side of the table where he was getting an
extra mid-day snack (we do that for our underweight children). I didn’t want to
speak directly to him as he was always quick to respond to a smiling face.I was a few feet away and said his name out loud,
“Thando”, and that little baby boy burst in to tears – the first tears we had
seen since he had arrived to his new home.The Auntie feeding him soothed him and gave him another bite.I waited a minute and then said his name
again, and again he burst in to tears.The Supervisors all stopped in their tracks and now all eyes were on
this little guy.Again, the Auntie
calmed him, he smiled at her, at me and enjoyed another spoonful of food.I said his name a third time, and he instantly
burst in to tears again.
What had to happen in this little baby boy’s life that would
make him cry at the sound of his own name? What words had to be spoken over him
and at what audio level that would cause such a guttural reaction? I can’t even begin to imagine.
I looked at Welile (our Sr. Supervisor) and while she stood
with her mouth and eyes wide open at what she had just observed, she said, “we
will not be calling him Thando, he will only be Roderick”.
“A United Nations
(UN) report suggests that about 71% of Eswatini children under the age of 17
are orphaned and vulnerable due to the impact of HIV and AIDS.” That was
the headline of an article sent to me earlier this week – you can read the
whole article here:
That statistic seems quite shocking at first, yet reasonable
to us based on what we see out in the communities.The children are starving and the young girls
are forced to do whatever they need to do to eat and feed their younger siblings.The result is unwanted pregnancy and too many
Last night our newest arrival, baby Armour born at noon yesterday,
slept on a change table in Kuthula Place because we had no bed for him.We had been planning a big “move” on Monday
where children move up to their next home, but instead we decided to do it
Baby Armour is a tiny little guy.
Elvis and Ella moved from Kuthula to the El Roi Baby home
leaving 11 babies under 6-months living at Kuthula.
Laura, Lisa, Wilson, Thomas and Kelvin moved from El Roi to
the toddler home leaving 38 6 to 18- month-old babies there.
Cynthia, Martin, Nella, Philip, Prudence, Nokwanda, William and Ariel
moved from the toddler home up to Emseni 1 leaving 40 2-year-olds living at the
Jonathan, Shadrach, Justin, Amos, Micah and Jackson all moved
from E1 to E2, leaving us with 1 space at E1, 2 spaces in E2 and 3 spaces in E4.We hope to open E5 in November.
All in all this is a busy place with 244 children who call
Project Canaan home. Some days it is overwhelming, but most of the time it is
just a joy to serve a mighty God who has called so many people to join our
village and raise the next generation of Swazi children.
You know what we need today?
We need you to sponsor a child for whatever amount you are comfortable giving.Will you
consider sponsoring one of these new children who arrived this past week?THEY need you and we need you.