Lack of a birth certificate in Burundi means that you cannot take your child to the local clinic for healthcare – even though the country offers free treatment for all children five and under. If you cannot prove your child was born in Burundi and is a citizen, the care is not extended to you regardless of how ill your child is when you arrive at the clinic doorstep.
Other mothers can take their children to the clinic – but not you.
Other children can be seen by the nurse – but not yours.
Other families can access basic treatment – but not your family.
So sickly children languish, day by day. If they get bitten by a mosquito and get malaria they are unable to get immediate care and, day by day, the untreated disease becomes life threatening. If a child catches a common cold or flu that goes unchecked (in combination with already poor nutrition) then, day by day, her health diminishes. If he is born premature or has a hard birth there is no medical care given and so the baby struggles, day by day, to live. Each day the most vulnerable children in the community fight to survive and are lovingly tended by their mothers, but without medical care the odds are against them.
I have been told by Claude and Little Claude, the two men on the front lines with the community of Bubanza, that there are too many funerals among them. Most days when they visit, there is another burial and most often, it is a small child who did not make it to see their fifth birthday.
What we know is that each life is precious to God; each one carries His very image. So when we look into these deep brown eyes, we know we are gazing at Christ, and we are summoned to action on behalf of Him and the children He loves.
So day by day, we have been working to secure birth certificates for the children of Bubanza. The first priority was to to get the certificates for the most vulnerable children.
Today is a happy day… because the first batch of 100 birth certificates were delivered to the mothers of these frail but fighting children! Look at this mama’s smile… those birth certificates in her hand are good news for her and her family!
Little Claude organized all the parents as prepared to hand out the certificates. He shared with them that he had been visiting the nearby clinic in the past few weeks, preparing them for the arrival of the Bubanza babies. He and Claude visited the clinic this very morning to ensure that they had a full staff on hand for tomorrow morning when all these mothers would come, birth certificates in hand, with their children for medical care.
You can see here a couple of the groups that got their birth certificates today…
Day by day, their lives are getting better. Trees planted, desks delivered, identity cards issued and an elementary school under construction. But today the good news cuts to the very heart of every parent, of every community because today birth certificates were given to their beloved children. And that means, among other things, that tomorrow their children will be able to get much needed medical care. So their children are on the road to becoming stronger… as well as now becoming fully recognized citizens of their country.
A song keeps playing in my head… Day by Day. It goes like this:
Day by day, day by day
Oh Lord, three things I pray:
To see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, follow thee more nearly
Day by day.
I believe this is our song today, in all it’s simplicity. We have seen Him more clearly in the eyes of the most vulnerable, we have loved Him more dearly as we have reached out to help those who are sick as He always did and we have followed Him more nearly as we have embraced the children He always welcomed! We all do this together, whether in Texas or Burundi. We do it as we pray, support, champion and remember our friends in Bubanza because we are all part of the same team, the same family! Day by day we are, together with our friends in Bubanza, making God’s dream for the world come true!
And tomorrow morning… she is going to be walking three miles to the local clinic with her baby to get care. She won’t be walking alone… And that little clinic is going to see a steady stream of Bubanza babies coming day by day!