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From abandoned baby to miracle

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.”


Toddler in Rwanda

A baby’s cry rang through the trees. Laying his tools down, Benjamin looked around but saw no one there. As he went back to work, he heard the cry again. Looking into the bushes it was then he saw her.

A tiny baby. Covered in ants.

Frightened to carry the fragile newborn, Benjamin ran to the house of Geraldine, a renowned community health worker.

“I was at home with my daughter when Benjamin came running, saying he’d seen a baby in the bush, covered in ants. He told me the child was naked. I handed my daughter to my husband and immediately entered my house to get a kitenge (African fabric similar to sarong). Then we ran back to the bush.

“When I saw the baby my motherly instincts just kicked in. I tried my best to wipe off the ants from her body, although they were biting her. I could see she was a newborn – she was a few hours old – because the piece of umbilical cord attached to her belly was still fresh. I wrapped her in the kitenge to warm her up after spending so many hours in the cold, and then I ran with her to the health centre,” recalls Geraldine.

The baby girl remained in intensive care for two days. During this time her parents couldn’t be traced and no one came forward to collect her. She’d been abandoned.

“The hospital director called me by phone to tell me to go to the hospital with my husband. When we arrived there, the local officials and police asked me and my husband to foster the child,” says Geraldine.

Despite struggling to provide for their own children, Geraldine and her husband didn’t hesitate to take on a sixth child.

Rwandan mum and baby

They named her Impano, which in the Rwandan language of Kinyarwanda loosely translates as ‘gift’.

“This baby was a gift from God. There is a reason why Benjamin passed many homes and came to ours. I know we have many children to take care of, but this baby didn’t have a home, and as Christians we are supposed to offer help to people who are vulnerable,” says Geraldine with conviction.

Rwandan family

From the day Impano came to live with them, Geraldine has raised her alongside her own daughter, Gisele. “Breastfeeding two babies was tough. I didn’t have the required foods, and the chance that both children would be malnourished was high.

“When Impano was two months old she was registered into the Compassion Child Survival project, which is something I’m still so grateful to God for. The project began giving us milk and food to supplement the breastmilk and they still do it to this day. This has kept Impano healthy and you can see that she is growing,” explains Geraldine.

Twins in Rwanda

Seeing Impano and Gisele playing together they could be mistaken as twins. “They are so inseparable,” laughs Geraldine. “Even when we buy a pair of slippers for one of them, to maintain peace in the house, we have to buy for both of them.”

Impano is living up to her name and for her new family she is the best gift they could have received. Her cute smile brings the family so much joy. 

It’s such a privilege to be able to come alongside mums and babies like Geraldine and Impano. It’s scary to think what would have happened if she hadn’t been found or how different her future would have looked without the support of the Child Survival Programme.

Every day we’re able to give babies like Impano a future full of hope because of your amazing support.

Help other babies like Impano

 



WORDS : Emily Laramy

PHOTOS : Doreen Umutesi


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