Statistics are just statistics until someone you know becomes one of those numbers. The infant mortality rate in Tanzania is 1 out of 15. I don’t know which other fourteen babies were able to live, but I do know the one that died. His mother’s name is Anna Magesa and his name will never be known. One of our night matrons carried her pregnancy to full term and on Thursday went to the hospital expecting to give birth to a healthy child. Instead of a healthy child she gave birth to a still born boy. A day of celebration turned into a day of mourning.
It is hard to put into words the feelings that followed the news and I will not try to express the feelings of the parents knowing that I could never come close. I know how devastated Liz felt in going from the anticipation of celebrating a new birth (something she loves to do) to the hard task of washing some of the blood from the mother’s clothing. And while death is always difficult, the view of a grave big enough for a full size man will never be as hard as having to help dig a grave that is was too small to fit the full length of the shovel into.
The time of less than an hour took the hope of a new life, the things he could have done and the happiness he could have experienced. It took the pride of a father at having another son and the love of a mother for another child. The time of less than an hour took away the seconds, minutes, and hours of a life that had yet to be lived. The time of less than an hour however did not take away our hope for the future, a future of a country and community that can still be shaped for the better. If you take fifteen babies I know the one that died. If you take thirty than there is another family and group of friends who had to suffer the same loss that Anna Magesa and her friends and family did. In working toward a better future for children and the education of students we are working to change those statistics. Numbers do not mean anything to that one family, but to slide the scale, to see the numbers change will represent real change for families in the future, even if it means only one more child out of thirty will be taken home to a celebration instead of to be buried in the corn field.
“Impact Children to Impact the World” - Grass Roots Ministries
FYI – Infant mortality rate in Tanzania is 1 out of 15. In the US it is 1 out of 166. Tanzania is ranked number 21 in the number of infant deaths out of all the countries in the world.