The Mission nursery can be the happiest place and the most sobering, all at the same time. Babies swing contentedly in hanging cribs, sometimes twenty and thirty to the large room. These are the abandoned. They are children born to women who, for different reasons cannot care for their babies.
It is difficult to comprehend the hopelessness and desperation some young mothers face in India. Some, teenage and unmarried, simply cannot cope with facing a future of raising a child out of wedlock. Widespread, unforgiving condemnation of illegitimacy—a condemnation held for generations—will make it very difficult for them to marry, hold decent jobs or even enable their children to dream of a bright tomorrow.
Parents with multiple girls in their families fear for the futures of their daughters. Although technically illegal in India, in many areas dowries are expected to be paid by the girl’s parents for the arranging of a marriage to a boy who can provide her with a comfortable life. Such dowries are impossible for parents entrenched in poverty. Some abandon their babies to die feeling this is preferable to what lies ahead. Some abandon their babies along roadsides or busy intersections hoping someone will discover them and provide for them in ways they cannot. Whatever the desperate thinking and actions of such parents, God has been using the Pandita Ramabai Mukti Mission to show tender mercy on these helpless babies. Since 1889 the Mission has rescued and given hope to hundreds of precious babies.
Here are the short stories of just a few of the recent babies in the Mission nursery:
As the sun was just peeking over the horizon in the early morning of a late summer day, a police inspector entered the Mission’s gates with a baby in his arms. The baby boy had been dropped in a sugarcane field several kilometers away. Covered in mud, with the umbilical cord still attached to his newborn body, the baby boy was rushed to the Mission hospital, bathed, fed and clothed.
Lovingly cared for, rocked and cooed over, he was given the name, Raj* by the nursery staff. Growing, alert and healthy, Raj was soon adopted after the legal paperwork was been completed. A loving home of a couple deeply desiring a baby to embrace as their own was found. This baby, Raj, has been given hope for a life that he was not born into!
Drawn by cries that seemed to be emanating from a nook in a dairy building on the busy Pune-Solapur highway, someone discovered a baby bundled there and informed the police. Authorities phoned the Mission and asked if they would be interested in such a baby. The social worker traveled there and eagerly accepted the tiny infant girl who looked to be only a couple days old.
Given the name Kailasa*, and cared for as little Raj before her, she bubbles with personality. Adoptive parents are undergoing needed proceedings and will likely be able to bring her to her new home in two to three months.
Less than two weeks old, baby Nila* was carried into the Mission by her mother. The mother looked malnourished with dark circles embedded under her eyes. “I have two other small daughters, 1 ½ and 3,” she moaned. “Now this girl has been born to me. How can I hope to care and provide for another girl? What will become of her? I don’t have enough milk to nurse her and she surely will die if you don’t help us.”
Nila became a part of the Mission’s family that day. Unfortunately, her mother ran off into the night, abandoning her and without giving documentation for her release so that she could be freed for adoption. Nila is bright and healthy. Since the proper paperwork was not submitted when Nila came to the Mission, she will join a Flower Family and experience the opportunity for a new life!
These stories are repeated, over, and over again. At times, it came be depressing and discouraging as the flow of children into the Mission never seems to run dry. Yet this is why the Mission stands as a beacon of hope for these children. As they join a Flower Family they begin to experience the hope that had been about to be extinguished by the hopelessness of poverty. Over time, sometimes many
years, their lives are transformed by the healing that belonging and acceptance brings; replacing the pain of rejection and abandonment. The Mission seeks to empower these children to life! The opportunities they are given are amazing when compared to what they came to the Mission holding. The repetition is a blessing in disguise as the Mission brings hope, healing, and life to each and every child brought through the gates.