"I don't care", she said. Standing next to the riverbank, Mary was nine months pregnant. Her other two children were born without a roof and grew up on the street. "Think about the baby", her friends implored. "You need to go." Despite poor health and numerous complications, Mary had no interest in going to a hospital. She was having trouble walking and the baby could come at any time.
Mary and her friends came to Mukuru Lunga Lunga Slum after being chased away from the field where they lived. Under the bridge next to the riverbank seemed like the most peace and best shelter they could find. Alex and I drove the car into Lunga Lunga as far as it could go. Amidst the potholed, narrow dirt path we squeezed our way through mabati shops and houses and wandering children and goats, only to be surrounded by a group of youth who demanded money to use their 'road.'
Alex continued toward the riverbank on foot. With tears in his eyes and much pleading, he convinced Mary to join us along with another pregnant woman and two friends.
At CANA Family Life Clinic in Mukuru Sinai Slum, a team of nurses, counselors, and community health workers spent the day with Mary and her friends. Started by an experienced nurse with a heart for the community, CANA offers health care, counseling, a maternity ward, and more to families in need. Wednesdays are pre-natal screening days at the clinic and recently we have had the opportunity to connect several young women in need to the clinic.
During her visit, Mary was given some very difficult news. The baby was healthy and near to delivery, but in routine testing, Mary was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. She needed immediate treatment. If she started on anti-retrovirals and came to the clinic for delivery it would be possible to avoid transmission to the child. Mary was shocked by the results, but after meeting with another HIV positive mother, she agreed to start on medication. . .
The good news of Christmas is that even when we don't care, there is Someone who does. For God so loved the world that he gave His only son. An unexpected child, born in the most humble conditions. Unto us a child is born and a son is given.
Please pray for Mary and her friends this Christmas season as they wait to deliver.
Mary's real name has been changed for this story.
Alex is a graduate of Light and Power Centre and Akiba School. He started reaching out to families living on the street and people like Mary several years ago. Lately we've week connecting with Alex's ministry (Springs of Hope) on a regular basis.