This week our friend Marietta was here at the St. Francis Emmaus Center for a short stay. Her one-year-old baby Betsabet had an appointment at the Children’s Hospital in San Jose and her older daughter Carolina was set for eye examinations that have been pending for years.
We met Marietta around this time last year. It was a rainy, cold night when I got a frantic phone call from one of the indigenous health care workers we partner with. She explained that Marietta had come to the hospital by ambulance and been transferred to a bigger maternity ward in a town about an hour away. Now she had been released but told not go home to her village in the mountainous reserve lands but to stay here in the city on rest as she was at risk for premature labor. With nowhere to leave her, she had simply been left in the center of town.
Alone, pregnant and at risk, with a five-year-old child.
We quickly sent a taxi out to find her and bring her to our center. After about three weeks with us, Marietta went into labor. We knew the baby was early, but were unsure how early because her prenatal care had been spotty. When Betsabet was born, she was much more premature than anyone had expected and unable to breathe on her own due to a thickening in her larynx. She was immediately transferred to a NICU in another city.
Marietta and her daughters lived with us for months after baby Betsabet’s birth as we followed up all her appointments and waited until she was cleared as healthy enough to return to the reserve. In that time, we were able to draw attention to an obvious vision problem in her older daughter and make the necessary appointments to have her diagnosed and checked as well.
Over the last year, Marietta has been faithful to return for all baby Betsabet’s appointments and follow up care. She is a happy, plump one-year-old who loudly expresses her opinion! And little Carolina will start school this week with a plan to get her vision corrected.
If this mother had been left alone that night and no one had intervened and advocated for her, there is a strong chance her little baby girl would have had serious complications at birth. If she had gone home to the mountains and gone into prematurely labor, baby Betsabet would not have survived her first hours after birth. And without an advocate, little Carolina would have fallen further and further behind in learning because of her vision problem.
Instead, a mama and two healthy little girls are on their way home today. This is why maternal health care advocacy and our work at the St. Francis Emmaus Center matters. Your advocacy matters too! You can become a member of our #mileinhershoes team by signing up below.
Monthly, St. Bryce Missions will send you stories and photos of the mothers and children we serve, like Marietta, and you can walk with them in prayer and share their stories with others via blogs, social media, or conversation. You can make a difference by helping us share their stories and continue to save lives and build better future for little ones like Betsabet!
Copyright 2016 Colleen Mitchell