Thursday February 8th 2018 is one day I will ever live to remember. My day started on a very busy note; with keeping an appointment for my driver’s license renewal to visiting some corporate organisations to lobby for support towards our Girls project in preparation for the International Women’s Day. The scourging sun did not help matters, hence I got home completely fagged out.
Few minutes after chilling with some cold water and nuts, I got a call from one of our staff at Goshen Home & Orphanage. There was an emergency and my attention was needed. I asked what it was. Lo and behold, it was the case of an abandoned day old baby whose mother had rejected and was going to throw away were it not for the intervention of neighbours who intercepted her and called on our orphanage to rescue the hapless baby girl.
Much as l felt pity for the baby, I thought it better to persuade the young mother to have a rethink and embrace her daughter in spite of whatever challenges and uncertainties were around her. Unfortunately, she just couldn’t come to terms with accepting her new born.
Her reasons? She is an orphan with two other siblings- a brother and a sister who, though married, have too many problems that they cannot render any assistance to her. Asked where the father of the child is, she said the man died when she was three months pregnant and she did not get to meet any of his family or relatives. She added that she does not have the means to take care of the baby and if forced to keep her, she would have no other choice but to dispose of her.
At that point I advised that we go to the nearest police station to formally report the matter. We got to the police station at about 7pm and for about 2 hours were being moved from one desk to another for interrogation. At the end of the day, the woman was asked to write an undertaken where she stated that she was voluntarily giving away the baby to the orphanage to nurture.
By the time we left the police station, it was late and we couldn’t get public transport. So, I drove the new born and staff that accompanied me in my rickety car to the orphanage. It was quite an emotional moment when baby arrived here. The warm reception and love accorded her by the Matron and other staff brought great relief and strength.
The next day, I called on the social welfare officer attached to our orphanage by the state government and reported the matter. She promised to come over to the home. She did come to make her findings and submit necessary report of the incident. .
I also put a call through to the medical doctor who came over immediately. He had his fears. From experience, such children are likely to have developed some health abnormalities due to the harmful medications the mothers would have taken in the bid to abort the pregnancy. And so the doctor taught it expedient to do a thorough check in order to ascertain the true position of things. Luckily for us, she was a normal baby; with all her faculties intact. This too was a big relief.
Lastly I had to put a call through to our lawyer to do all necessary paper work. We needed that to authenticate our admission of the baby. This is Nigeria and I didn’t want to be accused of forcefully taking a baby from its mother or whatever.
With all these done, the next step was to scout for food, sterilizing units, hot water flask, diapers and other essentials for baby’s upkeep. It was an emergency and apart from baby clothes, shoes and shawl, we had nothing ready. She was our first baby at the orphanage.
It’s been two weeks now since baby arrived Goshen Home & Orphanage. Of course it has not been easy getting all that is needed but I cannot help but wonder each time l hold her in my arms what would have happened to this bundle of joy if there were no neighbours to halt the plan of the mother to throw her way; if there was no sensitization in the community of a second chance for adolescent mothers/vulnerable children or if there was no orphanage around to rescue her and give her a chance to life.
I shudder when l think of the fact that on that fateful day, this hapless beauty could have been disposed as one piece of trash at the public refuse site, to be ravaged by dogs or other animals roaming the streets or she could have ended up in the septic tank or simply been strangulated to death.
But providence made a way for this innocent baby to escape death, to get the much needed help and to survive. Today, she is the darling of all at the orphanage. And she is so cute and beautiful. Of course she eats a lot, and we are doing our best to give her necessary nutrients and medication, especially since there is no breast milk from the mother.
I am in touch with the mother, looking for ways to help her rebuild her life and gain stability. My thinking is that she might have suffered some kind of post-natal depression due to her multiple challenges. I am hopeful that very soon she would have a renewed mind-set; that her hope will be revived and she would have the courage to forge ahead. I am hopeful that very soon she would be empowered financially and emotionally to take up her responsibility as a mother. I am optimistic that very soon she would be reunited with her daughter in love and peace. But peradventure she still insists that she does not want the baby, then we would do our best to nurture the baby at Goshen Home and Orphanage.
But for now, Baby is in safe hands and is enjoying surplus love and warmth, rich enough to make her life’s journey very sweet and smooth.
That same day I read of another baby boy that was packaged in a sack and dumped at a refuse site in another part of town. A journalist alerted the local government boss and she moved swiftly to save the poor boy before handing him over to an orphanage home in her area.
Unfortunately not all such children are lucky to get timely help and intervention. Many die before anyone is able to rescue them. Many also get infected because of their exposure to filth and harsh weather at such tender age
It’s high time we end the shame-game and help adolescent mothers rebuild their lives and dreams. It’s high time we give their vulnerable children a chance to life and joy. It’s high time we give adolescent mothers a second chance. They need it! They deserve it!