In a small village, in a place so removed from my world, many MANY miles away from home we get to be a part of a movement. A place where babies are given the opportunity to live and to thrive. What beautiful work it is. One of the most amazing things to me is that this is a project that the whole community recognizes and embraces! In a small village called Manga in the country of Mozambique, there is a clinic made of straw and dirt built by the community! Women walk miles upon miles with their babies wearing their best outfits to come to a clinic where they are greeted by Fatima – a 29-year-old Mozambican nurse who has devoted her life to serve those in need.
The point of the clinic is to provide milk for babies who are underweight and malnourished. Before encountering this place I took for granted the ability to breastfeed, better yet, I took for granted the ability to feed a family, a kid, a baby. In my small world I never thought about the desperation a mother must feel to hear her baby cry of hunger and not be able to do anything. Being left with no choice many mothers drop their babies in orphanages and give them up in hopes that they will be taken care of. Can you imagine having to make the decision to give up your child because you can’t feed him? But many mothers are unable to make themselves give up their babies and so they feed them whatever they can come up with just to make them stop crying, leaving babies completely malnourished and stunting their growth.
Although this work is a happy work… It’s not an easy work. This clinic was created to provide for babies who are in desperate need. How marvelous indeed! I want you to hear how amazing this clinic is, I want you to see how important this is, I want you to put yourself in the mom’s place and find a place of compassion, not a place of pity, where you feel bad and look the other way, but a place of compassion, where you feel and understand pain and are moved to action. What an honor to be a part of saving the life of a baby.
I keep writing, “saving lives”. Saving lives sticks out to me and it’s like a title that I have in the back of my mind because it’s what we are doing. It’s what I want to focus on. I just want to say it over and over again because maybe then I can just “focus on the positive”. We don’t like to write sad posts because we want our readers to be encouraged, we want our readers to be happy and feel good when you look at the work we are doing. But it is unfair to walk this journey with you and not let you in on the hard, tough and ugly situations.
As I look at the monthly report for the clinic and read the section labeled “comments” I can barely get through this section. Tears fall down my face… comments is the section where we find out why the mom’s are unable to breastfeed their babies:
“Husband abandoned mother while mother was pregnant”
“Mother is 15 yrs old. Parents have passed and she lives alone in house of deceased aunt”
“Mother has severe mental issues. Man who impregnated her ran away”
“Mother had HIV and died of TB. Great-aunt cares for the baby, baby is on ARV treatment”
“Mother passed away. Grandmother cares for the baby”
“Mother is 14 years old. She conceived baby as a result of being raped. Grandmother cares for the baby”
“Premature Birth. Father abandoned family. Severe malnutrition when baby entered program”
“Elton Carlos – 5 months old – Entered at 3.9 kg – Currently weighs 4.3 kg – HIV positive. The baby is an orphan (both mother and father have passed). He has two aunts that come to take care of him and take turns bringing him to the clinic. He was very malnourished when he came into the clinic and getting treatment for AIDS.”
Mozambique is considered to be one of the world’s poorest countries. A place where people live on $1 per day! What do you do when you are 14, you’ve been raped and now you have this beautiful baby that you can’t afford to take care of because you are barely able to survive? I can’t even imagine being in any one of those scenarios. It is by God’s grace that we were able to find this amazing project and adopt it. I’m so eternaly thankful for Ruth, a nurse who took us to see this clinic that was getting ready to lose all of its funds. She never lost hope, she never lost faith. God placed us at the right place at the right time. He orchestrated everything so that we would come in and bring a light in the darkness of this world. He made a way for these babies from a tiny village to be known, to be seen. He made a way for these moms to be heard! He heard their pleas and He sent the workers to bring this work to you so that you would see and get to be a part of this. Saving lives.
I’m honored to get to serve the moms that come through this project, but I’m broken for the ones we can’t help. At some point we have to start turning people away, and it is heart-breaking. To see a family in such desperate need and say, “I’m sorry. We can’t take anymore.” Oh God, give me the strength and the faith to continue to work. How can this be? Sorry, I see you, I feel you, but I can’t help you. It’s heart breaking! I live in a place where at your first doctor’s appointment for your pregnancy, you are more than likely) handed two cans of formula just in case you decide to go that route. I still remember the day I came back from Mozambique. There I was in a fancy OB-GYN office getting all that I need to prepare for my baby, and as I was leaving the place, they told me, “don’t forget to grab your goodie bag.” Oh tears rolled down my face at the irony of this world. This formula is what can save a baby! It’s even more heart-breaking and difficult when we receive the news that a baby from our project has died, that despite our efforts it’s too late and there is nothing we can do. The pain, the sorrow, the feeling of hopelessness we feel is too real. Being so far away we can still feel the agony of the mother as she looks at her baby breath his last breath.
So we save lives. Not all, not on our own, but saving lives is what this project is about. Jesus has graciously redeemed our lives so that we can pour back and do something good, something HUGE. To help and to serve: no better way to feel God’s love than to love others! He has called us to sacrificially love knowing that we love because He first loved us. He was the ultimate sacrifice so that in Him we would be complete. Would you take a moment and think about partnering up with us? Would you be a part of a movement of love? Would you help us provide for these momma’s and their babies? Would you help us bring up strong and healthy babies?