A babyâs 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.
âI was at home with my daughter when Benjamin came running, saying heâd 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.
âWhen 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 â she was a few hours old â 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,â recalls Geraldine.
The baby girl remained in intensive care for two days. During this time her parents couldnât be traced and no one came forward to collect her. Sheâd been abandoned.
âThe 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,â says Geraldine.
Despite struggling to provide for their own children, Geraldine and her husband didnât hesitate to take on a sixth child.
They named her Impano, which in the Rwandan language of Kinyarwanda loosely translates as âgiftâ.
âThis 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 didnât have a home, and as Christians we are supposed to offer help to people who are vulnerable,â says Geraldine with conviction.
From the day Impano came to live with them, Geraldine has raised her alongside her own daughter, Gisele. âBreastfeeding two babies was tough. I didnât have the required foods, and the chance that both children would be malnourished was high.
âWhen Impano was two months old she was registered into the Compassion Child Survival project, which is something Iâm 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,â explains Geraldine.
Seeing Impano and Gisele playing together they could be mistaken as twins. âThey are so inseparable,â laughs Geraldine. âEven 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.â
Impano is living up to her name and for her new family she is the best gift they could have received.
Itâs such a privilege to be able to come alongside mums and babies like Geraldine and Impano. Itâs scary to think what would have happened if she hadnât been found or how different her future would have looked without the support of the Child Survival Programme.
Every day weâre able to give babies like Impano a future full of hope because of your amazing support.
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