She had black curly hair and long fingers. Her eyes were icy blue as they gazed up at me. She had 10 fingers and 10 toes and they called her Mianna. I sang her name back to her when I rocked her in my arms. She was healthy once and strong, but now her face was wrinkled and her body was wrecked. At 2 months old Mianna weighed 3lbs and resembled an old woman more than a tiny baby. An old woman that had lived a long life and felt heartache and suffering. An old woman that bared the scars and wrinkles from years of labor and anguish, but this was no old woman. This was baby. What should she know of suffering?
Ashleigh and I walked into a nearby clinic with a child suffering from the pains of sickle cell crisis. We were hoping to get her an IV and maybe some stronger pain meds. Ashleigh was exhausted. She had been up with the child for 3 nights now and at times we felt the pain would never subside. It was Monday and there was a line at the clinic. After we talked to the doctor, a missionary friend of ours came in and asked us to come look at a malnourished baby that had just been brought in. She wondered if there was anyway we could help her because this clinic didn’t have the resources to help a child in this condition. I wasn’t expecting to see what I saw. She didn’t look like any baby I had ever seen. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. I would have sworn I was looking at a corpse if she hadn’t of opened her eyes to look at me. My mind whirled trying to make sense of the situation and desperately seeking a solution. I held her in my arms and when she looked up at me with those pleading blue eyes all I could say was, “I want my husband.” I don’t know why. He’s certainly not a doctor and his “Haitian home remedies” range from comical to down right disgusting at times, but I just desperately needed someone to tell me what to do. I was at a loss.
When we found him he was standing on the side of the road. The tears ran down my face as I unwrapped the blanket and showed him the tiny baby. He asked the same questions Ashleigh and I had asked earlier. Where is the mother? How did she die? Where did you find this baby? The lady caring for the child explained the mother had died a few weeks before from starvation and baby Mianna was left in the care of a neighbor. Now she too was starving.
I thought if we just got her some milk she would be ok. I thought if we just got her to the hospital and they gave her an IV she would get better. I thought if we paid someone to look after her and stay beside her at night she would improve. I drove her to the hospital. I paid people to care for her. I got her the medicine. She was suppose to recover, but she didn’t.
Mianna took her last breath at a quarter past 11, Tuesday night. The doctor said she was full of infection and as hard as he tried he couldn’t find a vein to give her an IV. They called my husband and told him, but he let me sleep through the night before he told me the next morning. I kept asking him if anyone was holding her when she died. It seemed important. Was she afraid? Can babies be afraid?
Who’s fault is this? Surely it’s those selfish people in the mountains that didn’t bring her to the clinic sooner. It’s probably the ignorant doctors who couldn’t get the IV in her. Its this terrible government and all the corrupt people that work in it. It’s America’s fault! They consume to much while the rest of the world suffers. Its my fault for not staying with her the night she died and believing the doctors when they told me she would be fine. It’s no ones fault and it’s everyone’s fault. I can point fingers all day long and that still wouldn’t bring her back. She would still be gone and we would still be left devastated by the reality of what happened to her.
Mianna, I’m sorry. It wasn’t your fault your mother died, and it wasn’t your fault you were born in a poverty stricken country.
So now we pick up the pieces. We bury the child and we decide how to respond to her death. Do we blame others? Do we blame God? Do we give up trying because we’re never going to be able to change things? Do we hide behind close doors weeping to God and asking him why? I’ve done all these things and still at the end of the day I’m left with the same question, “Now what do I do?”
He said he would bless the poor.
He said he would comfort those who mourned.
He said he would show mercy to the merciful.
He said the kingdom of heaven is ours.
These people need Jesus. There are some that laugh at missionaries that pass out Bibles to starving people. “They can’t eat Bibles,” they say. The people that say this are missing the big picture though. More then likely, Mianna’s mother sit in her village starving for months far away from the rescuing arms of any missionary. If someone in her community would have shown a little more compassion to her then maybe she wouldn’t have died. If someone would have shared even the little that they had she may have had a fighting chance. And before you shake your heads and pass judgment on the Haitian people ask yourself this, “How many times have we walked past a homeless person carrying a sign and did nothing?” How many times have we been to busy during the holiday season to volunteer at a food bank. Sure we can make all the excuses in the world. They’re lazy. They’re addicted to drugs. If I only knew what they were going to do with my money, I would give. We all lack compassion at times, myself included. We all need a little more of Jesus and a little less of ourselves.
I know what to do now. It’s the same thing I knew to do before I met Mianna. Tell people about my Father. I need to tell them about a love so perfect and selfless its presence has stayed with us for over 2000 years. Once people grasp that then showing love to others becomes second nature.
Jesus is the answer. He’s always been the answer even before Mianna came into our lives, and he’ll still be the answer long after she’s gone.
It wasn’t God’s fault that Mianna died. God has placed more than enough food on this earth for all of us. The problem isn’t on God. The problem is on us. And though we may not be able to change every injustice in this world we are given a certain number of years to change a few. I plan to continue to love and continue to fight for those less fortunate then myself. I plan on not letting the suffering of this world shape the way I respond to the needy. I am not bitter and I am not angry. I am determined. And with this determination I will change lives.
Thank you, Mianna.