As I sat in the cool morning desert sands next to the grieving mother, tears flowed from both our eyes. Hers from grieving her baby’s death, and mine for all the babies who die, but could be saved. The sun had started to emerge on the horizon and cast its rays through the dirt that was being plunged into the dark hole of a grave. The dust was starting to fill the air. People were huddled close around the the scene, singing hymns in their beautiful Setswana tongue. As the dirt was covering the tiny little coffin, I saw a whirlwind of sorts coming out of the grave and in it was like a shriek from God’s heart, crying out , “It’s time to push!”
God put a vision in our hearts to open a rescue center for abandoned babies. There was no facility in the country for care for babies ages 0 to 5 years old. If found alive or if they survived, babies were living in the children’s ward of Botswana’s hospitals being cared for by already overworked nursing staff. For 6 long years, we tried to get permission to open our doors to care for these little ones. It was only then that I truly understood how violently the devil hates babies. If life can be taken from them when they are small, then the job is finished at that young age to wipe out their destiny.
In years past you would not hear of an orphan problem in the country of Botswana. Life here is all about community. Your community is your family. Respect and honor are the fabric of the society. It is something that westerners can learn a lot from! People looked out for each other and if there were orphans, they were taken in and looked after as a part of the community. But over the last 20 years, the mark of HIV/AIDS has hit even this tightly knit Country. There are 1.7 million people in Botswana and hundreds of thousands have died and left a “missing generation” of mothers, fathers, Aunts, uncles, and grandparents. There is now a generation of young people with few role models. One in 3 are HIV+ in the country and only a small percentage in comparison are embracing the life-giving ARV drugs used to help victims become people “living with AIDS, versus dying from it.” The drugs came available to the public in 1990’s thanks to the good work of the MERC Foundation. (Gates and —-) In—-demographic of women HALF are HIV+. In 19— drugs became available to pregnant women. PMCTC? Before that time there were more babies born HIV+ than there is now. In an address to the UN assembly in June 2001, President Festus Mogae summed up the situation by saying:
“We are threatened with extinction. People are dying in chillingly high numbers. It is a crisis of the first magnitude.”
But young women, as a result of this problem, often find themselves in a situation where there is no way for them to care for a child and no home support to turn to. In these cases, babies are often born or dumped in pit latrines or in obscure places and left to die. Many abortions gone bad end up with babies left to die in these terrible conditions.
What would you say, if given the opportunity, to a woman in this situation? Would there be words of judgement, or would you be willing to lend a hand to her and help lift her out of her desperate circumstances and help?