The other day a few of the girls and I spent the day in Limilunga, at an infant feeding clinic. Despite the many heartbreaking and tear-jerking things we have witnessed so far in our trip, nothing prepared me for what I saw that day. A dad came in with his two children, a boy, about 3 or 4, and a baby girl around 1 year. As he spoke with the nurses about getting food for his youngest, his story started to come together, causing me to force back tears as we sat in the tiny office. The man’s wife had died 2 days prior, and he no longer had the means to support his daughter. While he told us of his hardships, he never once made eye contact with us; instead he focused on his two children, especially the baby girl who sat happily on her father’s knee. The man explained that without his wife, he could not care for his daughter and that he would have to take her to an orphanage in order for him to care for himself and his son. While he told us this, he continued to look at his daughter, but his face changed from loving-father to the most heartbroken and devastated man I have ever seen. The decision to give up his daughter was, I’m sure, the hardest decision he will ever have to make. His decision made me realize that he was the strongest person I have ever met.
I wish this man could know how amazing he is, for giving up his daughter so that she can lead a better life; one where she won’t be struggling day to day for food or clean water. And that because of his decision, his daughter will have the opportunity to go to school, something that may not have happened if he had tried to support both children. I can’t imagine the pain of having to choose one child over another, and I pray that the father will one day have the means to return to the orphanage and take his daughter home to reunite their family.
I would like to close with a big thank you to all the parents (especially the dads-that’s you Chris Malloy!) for all of the sacrifices you have made for us, and for the constant support you have given us. We love you all.
All my love to everyone back home,