In Septemeber 2008, I traveled 6000 miles to Haiti's Kenscoff mountains. My mission: to care for some of the orphaned and abandoned, the sick, malnourished and premature infants of this beautiful but beleagured Caribbean nation.

Sunday, 18 January 2009


We don't know how old this little man is. We don't know which part of Haiti he come from. We don't even know his name.

Late on Monday morning, there was a commotion in front of our house. Our Gate Keeper, Abraham, came into the office in an agitated state. Abraham explained that he had just had been confronted by a group of neighbours. A baby was laying outside our gate, alone. The baby looked ill. The neighbours were all talking at once and their voices were raised. They were gesticulating and they were emphatic that he, Abraham was to do something.

The baby was laying on a towel that had been spread out on the ground. No-one had picked the baby up. To pick him up would have been to claim responsibility for him. The neighbours did want the responsibility of an abandoned baby. Poor Abraham didn't know what to do; he had never known anything like this to happen before.

Inside the baby house, it quickly became apparent that this tiny boy's mother had spoken with a staff member a short time ago. She had been told that we could not admit him because Mum didn't have his birth certificate of her own ID papers. She was told that she would have to return home to get document.

If she had come a day later, the Haitian administrator, seeing that this child was extremely malnourished, would have admitted the boy right away, sent the boy's Mother to get the necessary papers, and given her money for the return journey. But Miss Magalie was not on-site on Monday, and so one of the newer staff members was dealing with the admissions.

The baby was silent and wide-eyed when GLA's social worker bent down and lifted him off the ground. An hour or so later, the head nurse asked me to check him over.

I estimated that he was over a year old. With spindly arms and legs, a bony head and wasted buttocks, it was clear that he was suffering from severe malnutrition. The baby was weak but he watched me with big, shining eyes.

Some of the nannies think his Mama was cruel to leave him. I am with the other (larger camp), who believes that this was not so much an abandonment as a deliverance. The Momma didn't have money to feed her baby. She certainly couldn't afford a second trip here. She knew that to return home with him would be certain death for her son. She loved him deeply, and she acted with the same faith and desperation as another mother, several thousand years ago, who laid her baby in reed basket and sent him adrift on the River Nile.

So far, this little man's recovery has been unremarkable. He has a voracious appetite and after just 7 days with us, he is all ready filling out. We are seeing a little more flesh on his bones, and even the hint of a double chin. Much to our delight, a precious personality is emerging. This boy likes to be held and he likes to snuggle. For my part, there is no describing the feeling I get when he reaches up, or when he lies with his head on my shoulder, and sings.


Carla Burlando said...

Beautiful little boy. I agree with you about the mother. Its sometimes easy to judge..until we put ourselves in their situation. So glad he's thriving. I just picked up a new foster baby (1 yr old) a couple days ago. Sad big eyes and an unknown past. He's already starting to bond though so its good to see him start to smile.

Big Al, the gal said...

I'll be so curious to learn what y'all decide to name him!

Hats off to all of you for saving this precious child's life.

Anonymous said...

i love what you said about this not being an abandonment but a deliverance.....that is something to store away in my thoughts to tell my children someday...thanks


Jaime said...

What a beautiful boy. I wonder if his mother will someday be able to make the trip to see him? My prayers continue for you all as you bring love and care to these tender little lives.