When did this passion for the children without a voice ignite within me?
If you’ve known me for any length of time, you’d know that I LOVE babies. Squishy buddles of joy.
Even back in junior high, my friend and I spent almost every day after school at our neighbor’s house, helping with her twins. Twin babies, what could be better!
I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2001 and started my first nursing job on the women’s and children’s floor of the hospital. After that I transitioned to a pediatrician’s office.
From there, Matt and I moved to South Africa for a year and what did I do during that time…held and loved babies in an orphanage.
Shortly after we arrived, Chris, that lady in charge of the orphanage, had planned a trip to England to visit her parents. Because of my training as a nurse, she asked that I care for one of the most fragile babies that I’ve ever met, Akani.
Akani was a 5 1/2 month old baby and his little body was fighting a losing battle against HIV. For the first two weeks in this new country, I looked after Akani each night, sometimes scared out of my mind. Things began to look up for this little child for a short while, until a bout of diarrhea weakened his body again.
One particular day is forever etched in my mind… it still brings tears to my eyes 8 years later.
Matt woke me on this morning and I knew something was terribly wrong. My dad had called giving us the news that my Grandma had been killed in a car accident.
My dear beloved Grandma, kindest heart and a beautiful spirit, taken from me just 6 weeks into our stay in South Africa. Later that morning, I stood by the swing set while the children played, tears streaming down my face…here with these strangers grieving someone that meant so much to me.
Such deep sorrow.
I remember holding Akani that morning, looking him in the eye and telling him today could not be the day that his little body gave up the fight.
Lord, not two today…please not two.
Part of the plan for the day had been to bring Akani to see his mom.
Chris asked me if I still want to go along and I knew in my heart that I needed to take this journey. We loaded up the car and headed out to the township to reunite mom and baby, both sick, both dying.
Things deteriorated quickly on the way home for Akani. It was if he knew it was ok to give up the fight. Chris headed to the hospital with him that afternoon and he didn’t last the night…
And I’ve never been the same…