Wednesday, June 3, 2009



“Children are disposable in Haiti. Human life holds no value

Almost 2 weeks ago Dixie told me to come with her to the waiting room because there were some people here with a baby. Usually when this happens it is because we are admitting a new child and she needs photos taken. When I went outside where the family was sitting Dixie told me to sit down and join them. The newborn was covered in a towel. It only took me a few minutes to understand that there was something very wrong with this baby.

They explained to Dixie that they had brought this little girl to us because they didn’t know what else to do. She had been born 2 days before by caesarean section at a local hospital. She was still unnamed. When they pulled back the towel and I looked down I could see that this little girl had a severe case of hydrocephalus, more commonly known as fluid on her brain. At first Dixie did not want to take the baby because she was so sick she thought it might be even worse for her to be in our nurseries with all the germs and viruses we have. However, after listening to the women tell us what this little girl had come from, Dixie and I both knew that to turn her away would surely be the end to her little life. After being assured that the baby would indeed be staying with us Dixie asked the women what they would like to name the baby. No one spoke up, they barely raised their eyes. It was clear to me that they would not give her a name, they did not think she would live and so to name her wouldn’t mean much. In a country with an infant mortality rate of 63% things that you or I could never understand are common practices. Just imagine 63%! That is more than half of all the babies born in Haiti each year! Would it even occur to any one of us to NOT name a child because they are not expected to survive? Yet here in Haiti it is just another small example of the callousness death brings. Finally Dixie suggested Sabrina, they all agreed that it was a good name for her but no one was overly excited, no one except me that is.

When I first laid eyes on Sabrina I saw a baby like none I had ever known before. Her head was hugely swollen, her forehead bulged above her eyes so much that they were almost forced shut. She had been born more than 48 hours before but she had not been bathed. Conventionally, she was nothing that any one would consider pretty but to me, she was beautiful! Her petite mouth worked as she slept, her tiny hand curled into a fist around my finger. She was perfect! All of you who have shared this journey with me know that in my heart is a special place for the children that are the most needy. I want the ones no one else does. I find that the more in need of love they are, the more my love for them multiplies. Baby Sabrina, like so many other children here, quickly captured me! She was lying across the knees of one of her aunts and after she was named I took her into my arms and cradled her close. I sat breathing in the familiar feeling of the weight of a child in my arms and I listened to the story they told. In their native language, so much like a beautiful song, they told the ugly story of Sabrina’s birth, and what could have been her death.

When Sabrina was born her mother refused to look at her. She did not want to hold her. When she found out what was wrong with Sabrina she told her sisters to take her outside and throw her away. She was certain she was cursed. In a culture that holds very dear voodoo tradition, a curse is the most terrible thing imaginable. Unfortunately Sabrina’s mother is not the only person to feel that way, when children are born with disabilities in Haiti they are often labeled “cursed” and left to die. They are found in open sewers, coffee fields and in the bottom of outhouses. When I think of Sabrina’s life ending in that way I am heartbroken. It took her only seconds to become a part of my life that I will never be able to turn from, I already love her and I can’t even think about someone “throwing away” this precious girl. Yet the reality is that there are babies in Haiti tonight who will come to that fate. Babies who you or I would give anything to hold, babies someone longs for. I don’t know where to begin to fix this problem, all I can do it continue in the work that I know I have been called for and know with confidence that God will use me for bigger things than I could ever imagine, if I let Him. I am perpetually grateful that Sabrina was spared, through the courage of the women in her life. It would have been simple to do what countless other have and pay no regard to little Sabrina, to do away with her like those who have come before, but not these women. They went against what has been drilled into them their entire lives to realize this one little girl was valuable!
Even though Sabrina is living with us now, her journey is far from over. On admission Sabrina’s head circumference was 51 centimeters. The average newborn head circumference is 32 centimeters. Today on measurement her head was 56.5 centimeters. We had x-rays done on Sabrina last week and the results were not good. According to the doctor Sabrina has very little brain matter. He says most of her head is filled with fluid. He said she will die, one day, not long from now she will stop breathing. However, this doctor did not watch a little boy brought back to life less than one month ago. This doctor has not sat in our nurseries for hours on end holding the very children who others have called hopeless. This doctor does not know what our God can do. I do not refuse to accept that Sabrina could die, but I do refuse to believe that just because it is a possibility, we should sit back and let it happen. Thankfully Dixie, and several others agree. Work to acquire a medical visa for Sabrina started last week and we are determined to get this baby the medical care she desperately needs!

So far the journey toward a medical visa has been rough. Because of the diagnosis Sabrina was given by the doctors here in Haiti, we have not been able to find a doctor in the States willing to take her case. It is taking time to secure a doctor and time is something Sabrina does not have. As her fluid increases and her head swells more, Sabrina has begun suffering from seizures. Had she been born in the United States Sabrina probably would have had the surgery she needs within 48 hours. Every day she waits is one day longer for this fluid to leak, it is one more day that her brain is compressed. Sabrina needs this surgery now and so I am asking all of you to pray unceasingly for Sabrina today. None of us know if Sabrina will survive the road that is ahead of her but all of us know that she is worth the effort to get her there. Many evenings after supper I go into the high care nursery and sit with Sabrina I can’t pick her up, but I hold her little hand and I pray. It is my hope that in those moments Sabrina can feel that she in loved. I hope that in those evenings Sabrina finds the drive she needs to keep fighting.

I am being as realistic as possible in this situation, while still knowing and trusting that my God can do anything! I know that it is a true possibility that Sabrina will not live. I know that at any moment she could die, but I also know that if that happens Sabrina will die with dignity. She will be surrounded by people who love her, a far cry from the outhouse she could have ended up in. Sabrina has already touched so many. Four days ago a mother came to our door to visit her child. When I asked her who she came to see she told me she was “mama Sabrina” Sabrina’s mother had come! When she was dropped off Dixie told Sabrina’s family that mama would need to come to sign papers to relinquish parental rights of Sabrina. They said she would not come because she did not want to see or touch the baby. Dixie assured them that she would not have to see her, just fill out the paperwork and be finished. When I came to the waiting room where Sabrina’s mother sat she told me she had decided that she wanted to see her baby! When I brought Sabrina downstairs and sat down next to her mother her eyes filled with tears, at first I thought it was because she was so upset but then she said softly, “she looks like me, look at her face, it is just like mine” Love at first sight between mother and child. A moment I will never forget. Sabrina’s mother then asked if she could hold her and for several moments she sat cuddling her baby and sharing her words of love. What an amazing change God did in this woman’s life! Before she left I took a picture of her holding Sabrina and printed it for her and as she walked out the gates holding back her tears, she clutched in her hand the photo of her firstborn.

Please pray specifically for little Sabrina’s medical visa! We are in need of a doctor to take on her case and a passport and visa issued to allow her to leave. I have no doubt in my mind that there is someone out there who believes in Sabrina’s life and who is willing to work for her. Please pray that God leads us to that person! Please pray too for Sabrina’s immediate health. Within the next few days fluid has to be drawn from her head to relieve some of the pressure. Dixie will probably do this by inserting a needle into her scalp and drawing out the excess fluid. Sabrina feels pain and this will not be an easy procedure for her, please pray her through it!

I am so thankful for each and every one of you who I can share in this journey with! From the bottom of my heart I thank God for you.

Loving Sabrina,

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