One of my favorite television shows these days is Call the Midwife. Set in the late 1950's, Call the Midwife is about a group of midwives working in East London out of a convent: Nonnatus House.You can read a wonderful review of it here on Pioneer Woman Entertainment. It was how I originally discovered it. Then I devoured every episode of season one online while in the States this past spring.
I was sad to leave it behind when the time came to return to Zambia. However, just after I returned, season two started on our TV service here! Sometimes I'm extra sure God loves me.....
My TV passion is not the real reason for this post though. Hang with me....
At the convent there lives an older nun (Sister Monica Jones) who has worked as a midwife and now, in the twilight years of her life, suffers from touches of dementia. You never know what she'll do or say next.
In an episode I watched recently, the community has come together to raise money for Nonnatas House. As part of the event they are having plays, races, and a baby beauty contest. The entire neighborhood is working together to help a home that will allow their wives and mothers to deliver safely.
Sister Monica Jones looks around at all the preparations and remarks, "When did babies become precious?? It wasn't too long ago that they were playing in dirty gutters, or being carried on the backs of siblings not much bigger than they. Is it because they now survive that they have value, or is it because they now have value that they survive"?
She could have been describing Zambia! This is exactly what we face here. Every day we see tiny toddlers wandering the dusty roads of Kazembe completely alone. Or watch itty bitty children struggle with the load of a baby on their back.
Life here is more about survival day by day. Babies die. That's a daily fact. Some die from infection, from diarrhea, from injury, from malaria, from dehydration. I had a conversation with one of our young nannies the other day. I asked her how many mothers she knows personally. She said 10. I then asked how many have lost babies. She said 5. That's half!!
It would take me a while to even recall any friends of mine who have lost babies. Obviously it happens, but not as often as here.
When living in a society where babies die on a regular basis, I can hardly blame mothers for not creating strong bonds with a child that might not survive. Why invest emotionally?
So, how do we help people to learn to value, protect and cherish their children? As Sister Monica Jones said: Do we help to teach them how to care for the children--good health practices? nutrition? hygiene?
Or, do we teach them that every baby is a child of God? If they saw each child as a special treasure, a responsibility granted to them by God, would they be more careful to follow good hygiene, nutrition and safety rules?
I don't really have the answers. All I know is that I will continue to do my part. I'll try to set a good example of love and care for babies here at Kazembe Orphanage. Perhaps those who work here will not only use the practices we teach here, but will use them in their own homes too. Maybe it won't be today, or tomorrow, or even this year, but one day the seeds that we plant each day will grow and flower. I hold on to this hope.
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