Whenever there is doubt and difficulty, God is faithful to remind us of His plans to prosper us. This week started with challenges and difficulty and today God sends a reminder, in the form of a baby, of His love for His children.
It was a typical day here at the CAA office. The women were outside learning to sew. The social workers were busy on cases. Then, one of the women in our sewing program walks into the compound carrying a baby. She tells our social workers that this baby had been abandoned. Her exact words are, “I’m dead. I don’t know what to do. I can’t keep this child because I have no means of doing so, so the police gave me the option of Naguru, the government orphanage, but I am terrified.” Hannifah, the woman carrying the baby, is a vulnerable mother/grandmother who is struggling to make ends meet. She is disabled and has difficulty walking. She is in our program learning to sew in hopes of developing a skill and eventually starting a business to provide for her family.
She normally arrives smiling, and today I could see the stress in her as she told us she couldn’t afford this child. Her disability makes caring for a baby even more challenging. We sit down as a staff and listen to the child’s story.
Hannifah has a daughter that she doesn’t have much contact with. This daughter gave birth to a baby boy about a year ago. The daughter never told anyone who the father of the baby was. Since delivering a baby, she has a new husband. The new husband is unwilling to care for her baby. Most likely the daughter is dependent on this man for food and housing. A few weeks ago, the mother attempted to kill this baby. She, fortunately, was unsuccessful. Then a few nights ago at 11 pm, people in a nearby village heard this baby crying. He had been abandoned at a building not far from the office. The neighbors recognized the child as belonging to this mother and took the child to the police. The mother had run away and police are still not able to locate her. One neighbor knew of the birth mothers house and where her mother lived. Police located the baby’s “grandmother”. So over the weekend, our Hannifah was handed a baby that police told her was her grandchild. She had never met the baby or knew of his existence.
The police asked if she wanted to care for the baby. If not, they would take the baby to the government run orphanage. I imagine the stress Hannifah was under as she struggled with her decision. She doesn’t want her grandchild to grow up in an institution, but she lives in extreme poverty and knows she can not provide for the baby’s basic needs. She keeps the baby and today comes to us for help. We all notice Hannifah’s stress today. She is quiet and looks exhausted. She is overwhelmed at the thought of raising another child and the costs of caring for a baby . But, she is willing and wanting to care for her grandchild. She says she can’t allow her own grandchild to grow up at a baby home.
Poverty should never be the reason why a child is forced to leave their family and be placed in an orphanage. We want to work to keep kids in their families. Hannifah wants to be a grandmother to this baby and raise him. There are challenges, but we want to support her and cheer her on. We sat down as a team and discussed how we can support her to care for this child.
I am amazed by our director and social workers here. They are so passionate about keeping children with their families. While they worked in great detail on this case, I was blessed to be able to love on this little guy. MJ fed him some rice and beans. Then I fed him some bananas. He ate and ate and ate and we wondered when the last time was that he received a full meal. We got him some diapers, cleaned him up, and then Hannifah gave us the privilege of giving him a name. Without skipping a beat, I said I think his name should be Nathan. I have multiple people in my life who I admire named Nathan. We looked up the name Nathan in the Bible. It was the name of a prophet who God used to speak truth over King David. We pray that this baby will be used to speak the truth of His goodness and provision. God spared his life and rescued him from evil. His family is Muslim but they were ok with giving him a Christian name. We told Hannifah what we wanted to name him and why. She smiled and said “That is a good name.”. Because Nathan is hard for Ugandans to say, we are calling him “Nate”.
He spent the afternoon napping in the office. We picked out clothes for him that were donated to us. Hannifah was so grateful for all the help she received. She left with a big smile on her face, feeling more confident in her ability to care for the child. We told her we are cheering her on. She comes here 3 times a week to be a part of our program and so we are excited for Baby Nate to come with her.
So, meet Baby Nate. We are so thankful for him!