This sweet look between an aunt and her niece has been making our hearts soar. Today, we'd like to tell you their story.
When they arrived at the recovery center, Judeline had been caring for her newborn niece, Joalyne, for just 21 days. Joalyne's mother had died just 6 days after her birth, likely due to complications from an unassisted delivery.
Without access to breastmilk, Judeline had no choice but to feed the baby from the foods that were available to her. Judeline was an experienced mother; she had already given birth to three healthy boys herself. However, this situation was a new one.
She knew that the pharmacies in the city sold special milk for newborn babies, but when she asked someone about the price, she realized that a single can cost more money than she had to feed her entire family of five for a week.
She simply did not have the money to purchase expensive formula.
Instead, she did her best, making plaintain porridge and splurging on cans of Gerber baby food when she could. Inevitably, these foods were too harsh for a baby not yet a month old and they weren't providing enough nutrition. Rather than gaining weight like healthy babies should, Joalyne was loosing it.
A friend and former graduate of Second Mile Haiti, Yglie Pierre, began to take note. She knew the signs of malnutrition and she knew that babies who did not breastfeed were at risk. She also knew that feeding a newborn solid foods too early could lead to malnutrition. She had unknowingly made the same mistake with her own daughter.
Her own experience with malnutrition had left Yglie acutely aware that if things didn't change, her friend's newborn niece would not have much longer on this earth. She told Judeline about the recovery center, where she knew that education and infant formula would be available to help.
When they arrived at the center, the baby had been without adequate nutrition for 27 days. She weighed 5.2 lbs.
Though she was 7 months pregnant herself, Judeline agreed to participate in the recovery program. They stayed Monday through Friday until Joalyne made a full and complete recovery. She gained 4.7 lbs.
Judeline became the caretaker of her infant niece the moment her sister succumbed to complications of childbirth. Her bond with Joalyne began during those first 21 days while she was doing everything in her power to keep the new baby alive.
But when she got to Second Mile Haiti 'everything in her power' changed drastically. And so did her relationship with her niece.
Each day that Judeline watched Joalyne grow and respond to her loving care, their bond grew deeper.
Their bond grew the more she was able to relax into her new knowledge about how to care for a baby that didn't have access to her mother's milk.
Their bond grew again when she was able to take her niece to the local hospital's Pediatric clinic where her fears about the baby's health were put at ease.
And their bond grew even more, each and every time Judeline responded to Joalyne's cries, smiles, and new motor developments, made possible now that Joalyne was receiving adequate nutrition.
Haiti has a unthinkable number of children growing up in orphanages. More than 30,000 children don't live with their families. This happens when families like Joalyne's don't get the support they need to care for these vulnerable children at home.
Haiti also has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world. More babies die during the first month of life in Haiti than anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere. So high, in fact, 1 in 40 children won't live beyond the first 30 days of life.
Joalyne arrived at Second Mile at day 27.
Because of the many individuals who support our work we were able to provide all the infant formula and medical care she needed to recover.
We are also able to help Judeline's family with a business kit that will increase the family's income and help them cover the additional costs associated with caring for the newborn. And though Judeline will give birth in just a few weeks, her husband, mother, and 13 year old daughter are ready and able to help both with the new baby and the business.
It won't be easy, but this resilient family is determined to make it work. Our support will follow.
This Holiday Season and we want nothing more than to be able to do the same for each new family that finds their way to our center.
To do so, we need to see our online Holiday Catalog funded in full.
Each year, during the busy season of parties and presents, traditions and traffic, we post about the impact of your contributions to Haiti and ask you to consider making a year-end gift to support our work. 19 gifts categories remain with gifts like Literacy Kits ($25), Infant Formula ($75), and Business Kits ($250). This week, we're looking for 100 new gifts. Every gift, no mater how big or small, makes a difference for families like this one.