Beaten and given alcohol to drink at three months of age, Ayane was in danger until she found grace and peace in a new home.
How can this be so complicated?” I turned the small square of cloth over and over. I shook it, sighed, and threw up my hands.
Just a few weeks ago I would never have dreamed that I would be wrestling to put a cloth diaper on a 17-month old baby. When we first heard about the tiny girl, we knew we could not ignore her plight. She lived in a village six hours away, and her mother had lost her mind. As a young girl, she had been horribly mistreated by her own parents. Her father punished her by holding her hands in the fire, causing her to lose one finger and severely deforming two others. Her mother beat her mercilessly and forced her to work in the fields. It was little wonder that she was incapable of caring for her own baby.
She stopped breastfeeding little Sina (which means “she does not have” in Swahili) when she was just three months old. Instead, she fed her whatever happened to be lying around – mostly alcohol. We heard that she even put a rope around the baby’s neck and carried her that way. She drenched her in cold water, and started beating her. The baby’s bibi (grandmother), an alcoholic herself, did nothing. Most of the villagers agreed that the baby was in danger, but no one intervened.
Amazed at the apathy of the villagers, my husband Elisha and I decided we would rescue the little girl ourselves and try to find a stable Tanzanian Christian family to raise her. We called the chief of the village for two days with no success. My worry multiplied and grew. What if we arrived too late?
I scrubbed my dishes a little too vigorously and prayed, “Lord, this baby is Your daughter. We are willing to rescue her. Please, if You will, open the door for us to reach the chief.”
Peace filled my heart and I continued with my day. Not long after, Suzan, our sewing teacher, told me she had talked to the chief and that he would make arrangements with the bibi.
The bibi gave away her granddaughter as if she were nothing more than a bag of dirty laundry. Nobody looked back to say goodbye, to kiss her forehead, or give her one last squeeze. Our friend Kori, who picked up the baby for us, almost cried.
When the tiny girl arrived at our home, she looked around with large, scared eyes. Her tummy stuck out so far, we worried it would pop when she laid on it. Her malnutrition showed in her abnormally light brown and patchy hair. Our hearts broke for her suffering, and we immediately decided to give her a new name – Ayane Salome, which means “grace and peace.”
After only a week, Ayane started laughing and smiling. And boy could she eat! I blended rice and beans and enriched it with ground cashews, coconut cream, avocados, olive oil, etc. I watched with delight as her little legs fattened, her cheeks rounded, and her hair darkened to its original black.
I must admit that I gave up on the cloth diapers. Our life is very different now. We have just as much work as before, and we worry about Ayane. She becomes more attached to us with each passing day, and we have not been able to find a suitable family for her. I do not know what will happen to her. But I do know that she is God’s little princess, and that He will help us as we seek to understand His will for her life.
Nadege Vande Voort
Nadege and her husband Elisha operate Eden Valley Foster Care Mission, a trade school for underprivileged youth in Tanzania. email@example.com; Box 17, Mafinga, Iringa, Tanzania.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Pray for the Vande Voorts’ outreach in Tanzania and for Ayane’s future.
Share this story and ask others to pray, too!
Give to Elisha and Nadege’s mission. Send your check, with “Eden Valley Foster Care Mission” as the memo to:
Outpost Centers International, 5132 Layton Lane, Apison, TN 37302
For online options, visit:
www.outpostcenters.org/donate. Click on “Eden Valley Foster Care Mission” under the ministry tab.