Today I heard from an orphanage here in Hawassa, Ethiopia where we live that a baby had passed away early this morning. This small child came to the orphanage just last week severely malnourished. The child’s mother came as well and seemed to have sufficient milk to feed the baby but for some reason was not doing so. It is difficult to fully understand such circumstances and especially so when viewing them from outside of the culture. There are many reasons the mother may not have been feeding the baby. Some are social and cultural, some are economic, some are religious. Examples may be the circumstances under which the child was conceived, the social status of mother and family, dire economic needs not allowing for another child to be cared for at this time, some babies are considered to be bringing a curse into their family based various traditional belief systems and thus that child should not be cared for, there are many reasons such a thing may happen and all of them very distant and foreign to American or Western thinking.
But the child has gone from this earth and as Christians we believe Jesus watches over such little ones and that he is in a better place. It is sad for those who tried to bring caring and comfort to this little one and to nurse him back to some condition of health. But last night a small cough developed and so they took him to the clinic knowing his weakness but by morning he had passed. His condition was such that a small cough caused his death.
Life is fragile, opportunities to make a difference are sometimes brief. Just another African baby dying of malnutrition. His name was Binyam.