2010 July Haiti Journal #8 Sidewalk Baby (July 26)
Tonight, as a reward to ourselves after a long dripping-hot day, we stopped off at one of our favorite orphanages. I was really looking forward to seeing all the children at Mabo and giving them some art and craft supplies we knew they could use. They recognize us, and always shower us with kisses. When we were parking, another woman pulled up. She seemed to be a regular, too. She had a large box of used mis-matched clothes .We helped her with the box since she was cradling a newborn. What an added bonus. Kissing babies is one reliable joy here. Or so I expected.
Once inside she started telling her story. Two weeks earlier she was walking down the street when a mother put her newborn baby on the sidewalk, saying simply, “take my baby”. With that the mother took back the towel the infant was wrapped in, explaining that the towel was borrowed and had to be returned. The mother said she had other children that she couldn’t feed. Then she left the pencil thin baby lying on the sidewalk naked, and walked away.
My new friend has barely slept since, feeding the newborn every few hours, and pampering her back to health. The baby girl was only 12 days old when she became a street baby. Now at a whopping 28 days old, she is already plump and by now was dozing easily on my shoulder.
Hard as that was to hear, I was still composed up to that part of the story…then, it turns out my new friend is leaving the country soon…and doesn’t know what will become of the baby. She intends to take her over to the Dominican (her native home) on her way back to France where she lives, but where the baby doesn’t have papers to go. There is no one in the Dominican that has agreed to take the baby yet.
My composure finally slipped. I thought of all the folks back home that would be thrilled to have a chance to parent this little angel…and yet, that new life seems just out of her tiny reach.
Is it fair that this baby was left on the street? Is it fair that her mother had no social safety net? Is it fair that for a few weeks at least, she was saved when so many others are not? What will happen now? What about her right to life?
In the states tend to think we are above these social issues. But, honestly, before we get too proud of ourselves, let’s remember the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child has been ratified by every country in the world but two: Somalia and the U.S.
I don’t know where this little street angel will end up, but I do know that somehow, she belongs to all of us…like all the world’s children do, and maybe we should start to wonder where our children are.
from Haiti, Leisa
To learn more about what this would mean to children all over the world, please go to: http://www.unicef.org/crc/index_30229.html
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