Wednesday, January 1, 2014
On Christmas day, I told Merlijn the story of baby Jesus for the first time in his life. I had to look it up for the details. Although born in a shed, many people couldn’t wait to see him, with prophets and kings coming from far with gifts. In Butajira Hospital, there is a 3-months old baby girl in the neonatal intensive care unit who was abandoned by her mother (and father?)*. Her name is Mimi. No one has come for her yet.
I saw Mimi for the first time on my birthday, weighing 900 grams. I told myself not to get too involved. There are many heartbreaking stories and people suffering (in Ethiopia), and one can only do so much to change the course of things. And what can I do in this case? I intentionally didn’t go back to the neonatal intensive care unit, but did often ask if the baby was still alive. It’s a strong little girl, she is growing on the milk given by the pediatric nurses. The staff pays for the milk, which as I have mentioned before, is the same price as baby formula in Europe, while their salary is about 60 euro per month. They all love her. I saw the baby girl again on Christmas. She now weighs 2.5 kg. I gave her milk powder, some clothes and Elin’s rattle, which turns out to be about 1/3 of her body size.
What is the future of this strong yet vulnerable girl? A few days after my Christmas visit, the mother was found. The story goes that she was married, got divorced and remarried, but found out she was pregnant of her first husband. Supposedly her new husband doesn’t know she had the baby. She says she wants her back. She is poor and according to the community leader of her village, she will not be able to afford to raise her daughter unless the father supports her. This is not evident. We’ve asked the mother to come to the hospital to discuss the situation.
I've lost my heart to this little girl. My mind is boggled: should she be with her mother? Every child is best off with its own mother, right? Unfortunately, I’m not yet convinced in this situation but also don’t have an answer yet. Hopefully talking to her together with the Medical Director and Head Pediatric Nurse will help.
PS. If you have any baby clothes that you would like to donate, please let me know. There are quite a few people coming our way in the next months who are willing to take luggage for us. All sizes are welcome. The Head Pediatric Nurse helps to distribute the clothes to those in need.
* For reference sake, although apparently quite common in Ethiopia, the last time it happened in this hospital was 8 years ago. They were twins, adopted by an Australian couple. They came back last year to search for their mother.