The Beginning of The Infants in Distress Program
Her Name Was Blessed…
A young Dagara woman gave birth several years ago to an infant in 2010. The young woman had experienced a very hard life. She had been married and divorced at a very young age and then ran away to a gold town where she soon became pregnant. During pregnancy she refused to take good care of herself because she felt so much shame from her life. The labor was difficult and because of her neglecting her health during her pregnancy, she was not strong enough to live through a difficult delivery and she died ten hours after the delivery of her baby girl. The baby was full term but very malnourished and weak.
As soon as the young woman died the question that came up was what to do with the baby. Because the infant had been conceived out of wedlock, no family member stepped forward to care for the infant’s immediate needs. The families mourned the loss of their family member in a traditional three-day funeral and the infant was locked in a mud hut by herself for all three days. On the fourth day after the birth of the infant, a family member went into the mud hut and to her surprise the infant was still alive and thus the search began to find someone to take the baby. The person in the family chosen began to give her sugar water. On day five, the baby was brought to town to Rebeca, one of the Burkinabe team members. She began caring for the baby by giving it life-saving milk and nutrition. It looked like the baby was going to make it, but on the second day the baby suddenly took a turn for the worse and went home to the Lord.
The missionary team at the time pondered for days and asked many questions to the Christians who they had been living among now for eight years. Why are babies allowed to die? The answer was simple and the team found that even the local people felt tremendous shame of their hidden secret. The first reason was once someone was to step up to take care of the baby, in this culture, it means the baby is yours and all the responsibilities of feeding and providing for the infant now falls into your hands. For those living in extreme poverty, providing for another mouth to feed can be overwhelming. Grain reserves often run out and the family has to reduce meals to only once a day for several months until the new crops mature. Secondly, in many cases if a mother dies in child birth the infant is considered a curse and no one will take care of the infant because they are afraid the curse will fall of them and they might die as well.
Now the team had a decision to make as to how we could intervene in situations like these. The financial burden of obtaining milk powder seemed to be the main limiting factor for the biological family refusing to take care an infant. So, after much prayer and listening to God, the team heard God say to help the Dagara people but help them keep the infants within their families. As a result, we in partnership with Dagara Christians, would provide the milk so that finances need never again be a factor in leaving a newborn to die a slow, terrifying, lonely death. Also, the decision was made not only to provide financially but when the situation arose, to provide a foster family for those infants who were deemed a curse. Foster families would be identified and trained from within the larger church movement consisting of more than 70 village churches.
Thus, the Infant in Distress Program officially emerged in 2010 and to this date, over 400 infants from the ages of 0-24 months have been given a chance to not only survive, but thrive!