The following is an excerpt from Joint Council’s monthly newsletter, Mbali’s Message. To sign up to receive it and other updates from Joint Council via email, click here.
The children who spend the last moments of their lives parentless, unloved and alone have always haunted me. I can’t shake them, no matter how much I want to walk away out frustration with the system that blocks children from living, and dying, in families. These children are sometimes the only reason I keep fighting. From their graves they call to me, “please, just help one more, please just keep fighting.” Perhaps it’s because of a little girl named Mbali who who passed in my arms – a new volunteer at an orphanage who barely knew her. Perhaps it’s because I see her in every child.
Since that day over five years ago other children have been added to the stream of voices – some still fighting to live but are alone, and others who have passed alone. From Gaby, a little girl who died soon after Mbali. To a little girl with hydrocephalus in Kyrgyzstan. To Rene in Haiti who I worry about every day – hoping his shunt hasn’t failed, hoping he hasn’t gotten kicked out of his orphanage, hoping that someone will give him the care he needs, hoping that the next time I travel to Haiti he will still be there. And fearing that one day I will travel to see him and he won’t be.
Recently another child has been added. A little boy name Evan. Evan was a special needs child from Georgia. Evan was adopted by a loving American family on June 28th, 2010. On July 19th, 2010 he left this world. Evan was lucky enough to feel the joy of a family for 22 days. Evan was cheated by the system, wasn’t given the right to a family soon enough to save his life. He grew up in an orphanage and then foster-care. Evan spent two years waiting for the family to which he was referred to work through the bureaucracy and complete his adoption. Without the protection that only a family can provide he didn’t get the medical care and nurturing that he needed. His condition worsened and despite attempts to save him, Evan passed away.
Why must we all fight for every child’s right to a family? Because everyone deserves the chance to live and die in the loving embrace of a family. And because millions of children suffer and pass every year alone.