Light in darkness.

Ouch….Poverty hits me in the heart once again
My tear ducts literally can’t dish out any more tears. My heart is so heavy with the reality of poverty being thrown in my face that I run, once again, into the strong and compassionate arms of Jesus. I knew coming to Africa I was going to see some shocking things but I didn’t realize how hard it would actually be.
Last year in Benin we had a Mama bring her baby that had a cleft lip and palate to the ship. Like most cleft lip babies, they are malnourished due to the fact that they can’t suck properly and hence are unable to take in adequate amounts of nutrition. This is when we first met Anicette. She stayed with us at the Hospitality Center in Benin for 4 months as we ‘fattened her up’. During this time we saw some of the most beautiful relationships built. We saw so many crew and day workers fall in love with this family. Almost anybody that worked with Mercy Ships during this time knew Anicette and her mom. Mama is a bit of a spitfire so kept us all laughing and Anicette was adorable and everyday we saw her getting fatter and fatter. The last week of surgery in Benin, Anicette was finally fat and strong to get her lip repaired. The other relationship that we saw mended was the one between Mama and Anicette. To see this Mom hold her mended child in her arms was one of the most heart melting moments. As we sailed away from Benin, we had amazing hopes and dreams for this family.

Shortly after leaving Benin, Anicette started losing the weight she had gained and at 14 months was down to the weight of a one month old. Over this past week the doctors, nurses, and nutritionist did everything they could to try and bring this little girl back to life. On March 29th, almost 4 months since we left Benin, we are now mourning the loss of our sweet little Anicette and crying out to God to comfort her Mama.

This is just another example of the sinful world that we live in, that a child could die from not having food. Death is never easy especially when it is someone you love. But death because someone didn’t have food is ridiculous. No, it’s evil.
There are many things I could branch off and talk about in regards to why Anicette’s particular situation was so complicated. Mom being one of five wives, Anicette requiring special feeds due to a underlying metabolic disorder, lack of supporting community, lack of services in her country, lack of education; the list could go on and on. But instead I reflect back to this little girl. While working on Sunday, little Ani laid her head on my shoulder to let her little frail body rest. Her little heart pumped trying to get blood throughout her 4.5kg body. Her deprived stomach trying to digest food but instead quickly came out due to the damage already done. Her weak cry, now more like a whisper, revealing how weak her body actually was.

After hearing that Ani had died, I was comforted knowing that she was now safe and fat in the arms of our father in heaven. Yet my heart broke not only for her Mama but for the 100’s of other children that starve to death everyday. I wish it was as simple as “a dollar a day can save a child’s life” but the magnitude and depth of poverty is so complex and overwhelming. As I cried out to God he gave me this passage:
Isaiah 60:1-5 "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. "Lift up your eyes and look about you: All assemble and come to you; your sons come from afar, and your daughters are carried on the arm. Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy; the wealth on the seas will be brought to you, to you the riches of the nations will come
Now read this again but think about what God is telling us… We live in a dark world, you can deny it all you want but it is true. But there is a light that shines brighter than any darkness, the darker the place the brighter the light. For all of these heart aches one day our hearts will swell with joy… Now more than ever the fire in my heart is burning with a deeper passion and desire to Go and help!


Diane said...

i am so sorry to hear about anicette, know that you all touched one another's lives in ways that will affect you in years to come. you gave her mother great comfort and help, knowing that others --people she doesn't even know-- care deeply and mourn with her.

you have such a beautiful heart, becca...and the more you keep your heart rooted in God, the more you will be strong even as your heart feels like it is breaking. i love the verse that came to you.

and you are so right: the 'dollar a day' is a nice idea, but in no way begins to address the complexities of poverty.

sending you lots of love and prayers...and keep on writing! you are a good writer with a strong voice and important stories to share.

Andy Bradshaw said...

You are right. We need to do more as Christians in America to share what God has blessed us with. Thank you for deepening my kindling passion for this cause.

You are becoming quite a writer through this process too.

sarah said...

Hey Becca, remember me? I was the lab rat last year....
I heard about Ani dying a couple of days ago and reading this made me cry all over again. It's just not right that we in the Western world have all the technology, knowledge and finance to save children and yet we kill so many before they are even born and yet little Ani, who died from completely preventable causes, fought so hard and still died. It sucks. But in all this, I know God is still good. More than ever, I can't wait to go back to Africa! It's frustrating being over here when all I want to do is be back in Africa to be part of the solution again. Ah well, 4 years of uni and then I'm free again. Until then, I'll have to make do with reading people's blogs, praying and making each day count until I can return.
I'm praying for you all. All the best, Sarah.

dil said...

hey becca......after reading n feeling all this.....there is only one thing i would say, we need many more people like you with 'great god gifted hearts'.....keep going..gud luck...