Saturday, November 20, 2010

Living Skeletons


Through a series of fortunate events, I met this mother yesterday.  Her name is Franshwa.  She has twin boys.  Five weeks old.  On the brink of death.

I walked into her tent yesterday, took one look at the babies and thought, "We're too late.  They are about to die."

My gut reaction:  take the babies.  She had tried to give her babies away the day before. 

After talking to the mother, she wants her sons.  She wants them to live.  She just doesn't have enough milk to feed them.  Tragically, she would have given her babies away to save their lives.

Franshwa doesn't have enough milk to sustain her babies for several reasons.  This mother doesn't get to eat every day.  I found her in a tent with her two sons who look like tiny, lethargic, skeletons.  The mother doesn't have access to clean water and with the cholera scare Haitians are not taking any chances with dirty water.  Franshwa also doesn't have any knowledge about breastfeeding.  No one has ever taught her that babies need to eat every two-three hours.  No one has ever taught her that she has to feed her babies, even if they are tired and weak and don't wake up to cry.  No one has ever told her how long a feeding should last.  No one told her that if she doesn't eat food or drink a lot of liquid, she isn't going to make enough milk to feed her children.  As a matter of fact, very few poor Haitian moms know these simple truths and as a result...babies suffer, starve, and die.  Needlessly, these babies die.

Ellizay, who looked a little better than his brother


Elli.  This baby broke my heart.  Shattered it.

I have never held living skeletons.  These babies are extremely weak and skinny.  There were several times yesterday as I held Elli that he would close his little eyes, and I would gently shake him because I thought he died.

My heart hurt for this mother.  She wants to parent her children.  She lost her eight year old son a year ago.  "What happened to him?," we asked.  "He got sick and he quickly died."  That was her answer.

These babies are this mother's only living children.  She's married.  She doesn't have a job and neither does her husband.  They love Jesus.  Her husband preaches some times at the church in the ravine.

How do we increase this mother's milk supply when she doesn't have water or any food to eat?  How do we help her keep her babies where they belong...with her.  How do we keep these babies alive until Franshwa is making enough milk to sustain her babies?

Thankfully the Lord immediately provided a sponsor for this mother.  She's been adopted, if you will.  For three months this mom will come to Child Hope, a children's home nearby and eat two large meals a day.  She'll get a prenatal vitamin and enough water to take home every day to keep her thoroughly hydrated.  We'll weigh her babies and make sure they are growing.  Her babies will be supplemented, after two feedings with formula that is prepared and served at Child Hope.  We can't send formula home with mom.  She has no way to keep bottles clean, and she must make milk.  We will never give her formula for her babies, because formula will not sustain these children in the long run.  Either this mom's milk supply increases or these babies will die, or she'll have to surrender them to an orphanage. Until she's making more milk, the babies will get a little formula after two feedings every day.

We took this mother to Child Hope yesterday.  She was fed.  She nursed her babies.  They did really well.  A nurse looked the babies over.  I did a one-on-one breastfeeding class with this mother.  Such simple things, and yet you could feel the darkness slipping away, and the light creeping in.  After a couple hours with this mom and these babies the lady we returned to her home was smiling.  Her babies were awake.  Wide eyed.  I'd go so far as to even say this mom was...excited.  Hope looks beautiful on a woman.  Beautiful.

I asked her if she had been praying that God would help her babies.  She replied with a forceful, "wi."  What a sweet moment to look my sister in Christ in the eyes and tell her through teary eyes that God has heard her prayers.  He listens.  He is watching.  He has provided for her.  Not me.  Not the American in the States.  GOD has provided today.  He sent me here.  He told the American to give.  He put Child Hope in just the right neighborhood.  God has heard her cry for help.

Moms, as you nurse your babies will you pray for Franshwa, Elli, and Elliswa?  We have three months.  Three months to turn these babies around.  Three months to seek the Lord for a way to help this family generate income in their home.  Three months to see God heal this mother and restore these babies and this family.

I've never helped a mom try to increase her milk supply as her babies are near death.  Will you pray for me?  As with almost everything here in Haiti, this is yet another moment when I've had to admit that I am not equipped for the task at hand.

There is a recurring scene that happens in this country.   Me.  Hearing a tragic story.  Shaking my head.  Admitting I have no clue what to do.  Getting a little frustrated that God has put me in this position.  Life or death situations.  I feel incredibly inept.  Like a disrespectful butt-head, I snap at God..."why didn't you send someone down here who actually knows something?  I thought you were a genius.  This doesn't feel very smart."  That scene played yesterday as I sat with this mother and her babies.

36 comments:

Jana said...

praying....

the groves said...

My heart breaks for this mom. I sit here with tears because can't imagine the helplessness she is feeling. I have felt helpless and I have enough milk, food, water, and support.

I am so thankful that the Lord sent you to help her. You are so encouraging and I'm sure He used you in a powerful way in her life.

I need to stop being selfish and wishing you were here and be thankful that you are there helping to literally save these childrens lives.

Thanks for posting this. I will be praying for her and those PRECIOUS babies. Please post updates.

Love you!!

Gene and Annie said...

I just started following your blog about a month ago! I will be praying for these sweet babies and their mother!! God will equip you and give you the wisdome you need!! I know it's hard, I can not even imagine the hardships you face on a daily basis!! He is the strongest when we feel the weakest!! Thank you for sharing their stories!! Praying for ya!!

Jennifer said...

I just found your blog yesterday and came back today to check in. Wow, what a story. I just had to comment to say that I am praying for this mother and her babies. I am so glad that you were there and able to do this with her, for her. Praying for your family and hers.

Jennifer from CA

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing the story. My heart breaks to watch such suffering. How would I go about sponsoring the mom and children for another 3-6 months.
please let me know.

Thank you
Myriam

Andrea Manor said...

praying for her and her babies as I nurse my three month old baby right now.

KD's Korner said...

definitely praying!!!

Toknowhim said...

Wow... what a powerful story...

Thank you for sharing... God will equip you in all things...

Blessings sister...

Rebeca said...

Lord, have mercy on this mama and her sweet babies.
I have enjoyed reading your blog. I just hosted an Apparent Project jewelry party today... Shelley is one of my best friends. Thank you for sharing about their work in Haiti, and may God bless you all!

Amanda said...

Praying for you, Heather.

gabbie said...

praying sweet Heather and giving thanks that the Lord sent you! You are equipped to teach this woman and many others! You care, you have knowledge....you have the Lord!

Jodi said...

Oh Heather-

I can't imagine what it was like for you to encounter those fragile little babies. I'm praying for them and for you. I pray that God wraps you up in His grace. Thanks for sharing your story today.

Baskets Of Quilts said...

Wow as a new mother Nursing your testimony touched my heart. I hope that woman gets the help she needs. Bless you for teaching her to nurse her baby. Nursing may be natural for a baby but definitely not for a mother.

lifeinredshoes said...

Bless you, bless you, bless you! You and all those who stand in need are always in my prayers.

Megan said...

Praising Him that you were there to point out her answered prayer and how the Lord provided.

We are praying and having faith for Franshwa and her precious family. I can't wait to see the update on these babies in a few months! I love watching Him use you in ways you never dreamed...

Love you so much Heather!!!!

mamamargie said...

So sad and so wonderful! Praying for miracles in these three months. Looks like they've already started.

Buck Fury said...

Thank you for your obedience to God and your compassion for Haiti. I know it is frustrating to be in the middle of such suffering and feeling so incompetent (you are not, as this post demonstrates), and it's hard to understand how God is using you at times but I know He is and you will too, if not now later. And you share this with others here which affects us all in ways you can never fully know. God work is being done and thank you for your family's sacrifice and love in His name.

Now off to pray!

Jodi said...

thank you so much for sharing that - I read this as my daughter most likely is in her bed with her 20-day old baby, nursing him with an abundant supply of milk - precious babies all, some so nourished, some so hungry, miles and miles away. (to self: Trust in the Lord and know that he is in control) thank you for all you do, which is so much more than so many of us.

Cheri said...

This gramma will pray.

Anonymous said...

Bless you for what you are doing. Prayers are winging their way to this sweet mother and beautiful babies. Also prayers to all in Haiti.

Helen
Denver

Shelly Rude said...

I just found your blog through a friend. It was exciting to read as my husband & I had the great privilege to be in Haiti in March. We actually stayed at QCS. Our hearts are very much still there & are able to connect on FB with a few of the guys that we met there.
As I read your blog it made my heart ache as seeing that pain so closely. While we were there we were offered a set of twins from a mother that was filled with despair. It was so hard. I love the idea of the mother being taken in.
I look forward to your future blogs. I will also continue to pray for you & your family.

mouse said...

Just heard about your blog today, and as a new mother with a 2 1/2 week old son, I will be praying for you, and for Franshwa and her boys.

Cool Grandma said...

Oh so sad!!! We whine about everything and we Americans have it so good. I thank God that you are able to help this woman an the babies. You will be blessed for your efforts. I am sure any one of us would feel inadequate too...you can do it. God has placed you there with a purpose.

God Bless you and your family!

In His Love,
LaNell in OK

Duct Tape Chronicles said...

I read this post last night at work and have been thinking about this family all day since then. My husband lost his job as a draftsmen almost two years ago in January and we have lost a lot since then; it was the first time in my our life where we couldn't just 'fix' the problem by getting another job, because there were so few to be had. I can't imagine these people living everyday, in much more dire circumstances than our own, knowing there ARE JUST NO options.

I am really wrestling with God on this one; This husband and wife love Him and this is how He cares for his servants? I am just going through the motions out of obedience on this one-trying to trust and praise Him, anyway.

I will pray for you and these babies and their Mom and Dad. Like Myriam said, please tell us if there is any way we can put our words to action for them.

Kathi

Katie said...

I sat down at my computer tonight feeling guilty about having a piece of chocolate after a nice big dinner, feeling bad about eating so much today because I've been trying to lose a few pounds. Wow. How humbled am I to read this story today, and ashamed that I take it all for granted. Thank you for sharing this. I am saving cereal boxes and praying for you all.

**nicke... said...

i am praying. every time i nurse my fat little boy i will pray that this mom is able to increase her milk supply! thank you so much for being there! i am praying for you and for them!

Michelle said...

I read every post but I don't know that I have ever commented. I am amazed at all God is doing through your family! I was delighted to see your sweet face and hear your voice as I just watched a Channel 13 special on tv! I too, am curious how a mother and infant can be sponsored as the lady you mentioned in this recent post.?. Praying for you, your family, and Haiti.

Hendrick Family said...

Ladies..

Thank you for praying for these sweet babies and their mother (and for me).

I'll see Franshwa today at lunch time. I will try to update then. We have limited internet today.

As far as sponsoring her for longer...

I know for sure the lady sponsoring Franshwa would be willing to sponsor her for longer, if need be.

You ladies are wonderful, and I'm so thankful for your offers. I say we have three months because that's the goal...to prayerfully find a way to get income into this family's home. That's the best solution...to move from supporting them financially to helping them support themselves with a job.

So please pray that God directs us as we seek to find a solution to the unemployment issue in this household.

Can I tell you ladies what a comfort it is to know that we're not in this hard stuff alone? God is good and it brings me great peace to know that He has his children praying all over the world for this one family.

Heather

Tasha Via said...

Tht is just heart-breaking. Praise the Lord for allowing them to get sponsored!

Anonymous said...

2 Corinthians 12:9

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

Praying...

~Shawna

Heidi said...

I've been reading your blog for a few months now and am amazed by your strength and dedication. Your work educating, supporting, and helping women find longer term solutions is inspiring. I too would like to learn more about sponsoring a mother/child if there is a need in the future. As a new mother, it grieves me to see these women struggling with every day issues that are caused by a lack of education or simple supplies. Prayers are with you.

Misty said...

Praying!

What happens after 3 months? How can I help?

Misty said...

My email is bookworm614@bellsouth.net

mandi said...

Heather-

My herbalist mind is turning here. If I were to make a blend that would help increase milk supply, would the women be able to drink it? I mean, they would have to be able to have water and the ability to heat it and steep the tea.

I'm wondering because as I read this, I think of the herbs I would suggest to a woman with access to Whole Foods.

WAIT...
I could contact herbal companies and see about donations of milk stimulating herbal tinctures. While at Child Hope they could be given their 40 drops a day to help increase their milk production. That would be the easiest way for them to absorb the herb and there wouldn't be any need for making tea. Just a dropperful under the tongue.

Do you think this could be a possibility?

email me, girl.

Lib said...

Heather--

Your posts leave me in tears almost every time. Thank you for sharing your story with us and the heart-breaking reality of what you encounter everyday.

Just over a month ago my husband and I started a Francis Chan study in our small group, "Remembering the Forgotten God." It's all about the Holy Spirit and listening to His calling in your life, about not quenching Him. Shortly after we started this study I began praying about adoption because it's something I've always wanted to do but never seriously pursued. I asked God to open doors and make it clear if this is part of His plan for us.

About two weeks later I "randomly" came across your blog post "Reality is Weighty." I had never read or heard of your blog prior to that night. I WEPT that night as I read your words. I read your post four times, at least. I read it to my husband. I said to God, "OK, I hear You loud and clear."

We are researching adoption agencies now and hope to start our paper work soon for the waiting child program in either China or Ethiopia.

I just wanted to share this because I want to encourage you--God is using you in MASSIVE ways--not just in Haiti, but back here in America--in Northern California. So even when you feel like you don't know crap and are totally unqualified to help people where they are at, please know that the contrary is true!

I am saving cereal boxes and praying for this courageous mother and her boys. How can we sponsor this mother and/or other moms in her situation?

Thank you, Heather. Thank you.

Lib.

Magnolia Designs said...

My heart is just breaking...I came the other night and read this story and couldn't see to comment for the tears that were blurring my vision. I am so burdened as a Christian for those in need...when we have so much. I run a charity quilting project called Quilting for Babes to benefit the local IMCN unit at our Women's Hospital. Many of the quilts go to needy families with sick babies. But I would love to donate some to Child Hope or another Christian organization or orphanage in Haiti that you know of. Can you please let me know how would be the best way to get them to you? Is there still time to get them there before Christmas? I'll wait to hear from you...you can e-mail me at kfmurray@shaw.ca. Thanks Kathy Murray