These past two months we have seen 2 of our precious babies transition back home to the care of their fathers or extended family.
When we first started this ministry, we felt strongly that God was leading this ministry to care for the neediest of neediest children, those that were double orphans (having lost both mother and father) and whose extended family were unable to provide for their needs. While we do assist single orphans (a child who has lost only one parent), widows, and even double orphans in the community, we prefer to help in ways such as clothing, blankets, medical assistance, school fees, etc, that allow them to stay within the village family environment. We felt this was best for two reasons 1) to allow the family unit to stay in tact whenever possible and prevent unnecessary loss and confusion for the child and 2) to encourage family to try to care for the needs of their family and not just easily “drop off” children as an easy escape. We are thankful that there are ministries and orphanages around here that do take the neglected and other children in need but out of principle and due to the remoteness of where we were (and the great need around us) we felt this was best.
However, not long after we began taking children in 2010, we ran into the scenario of a young baby (Esther) whose mother had just died a few days after giving birth. The father was still alive, as was other extended family members but here, so deep in the village, the family had no money for formula or no way to provide for the needs of such a tiny baby (who was tiny at only 2 kgs (4lbs). We felt for this family but soon realized that even if we were able to assist the family with formula that it would be difficult for them to get access to clean water and make sure that the bottles were cleaned and kept properly. With all of the water born bacteria out here diarrhea is a big killer of babies, and such tiny ones can pass away in just a mere 24 hours from dehydration if they get it. Since they were begging us for help, to take the baby and help care for it, we made a quick but prayerful decision to agree to keep this baby for the first year of her life, until she no longer needed formula and only if the father was willing to come and volunteer his time to come help around the children’s home once a week (cutting firewood, working in the garden etc). We explained that this was to allow him a regular time to visit his precious daughter as well as showing that he was doing what he could to help contribute to her care.
Baby Esther was a joy and blessing to have around and after her transition back home we received another baby, Richard who was in a similar situation. While Esther’s father was great at coming to volunteer, Richard’s father clearly valued other things more than his son and failed to keep his part and as each got near the 14 month mark, it was hard to think of handing over these precious lives into the care of people that we didn’t know so well, and yet, we had to trust that this was what was best and that God was going to provide a way for them. And He has! Baby Esther is now a beautiful 6 year old girl and Richard a happy healthy 4 year old boy.
These past two months though we have had to other very important transitions. Baby Louie (Lulangillo) and Baby Martha. While transitions are hard, and it is hard for all of us, but especially the housemothers that have tended to their every need, watch them sit, crawl and walk under their care, nursed them back to health on many occasions and loved them like their own, we know that it is GOD who entrusted them to us for this special time and that HE will continue to see the good work that He started in them continue. It was so nice to see both of these families active in the babies lives from the beginning, coming often to visit and help and to see the joy in their eyes to see these tiny ones growing so fast and healthy. In fact, many of them could not wait to show them off to everyone they saw along the way.
So for these transitions we say Thank you God for letting us play this special role and please continue to keep them in your prayers. That they will feel as loved and cherished that they are here, and that God will continue to take care of all of their needs. One thing for sure is that they will have prayer warriors for life! We praise God that they will be raised in the love and environment of their biological family and that hopefully, they will bring the children to us often to visit : )
** All of the picture shown are of baby Martha and Baby Louie. Since Martha’s transition took place when we were not here, I do not have a good reunited family photo of hers but hope to get one when they come back to visit soon : )