This morning, when I got back home from dropping N at kindergarten, I came home to find Jennyfer, our nanny, suddenly scream out and start weeping.
We rushed to her, only to find that she had received word from her sister, that her baby neice had died today. Tragic and sad, but whats worse is that the same sister had a four-year old who also passed away a few years ago, and the most likely reason for both deaths was poverty.
When I spoke to Jennyfer and asked her what had brought this tragedy about, she simply said that her sister and family simply did not have enough money to see a doctor, to buy medicine, and in recent weeks did not even have enough for rice.
I was mortified, asking her why didn’t she ask us for help? That of course we would help her family if only she has told us. In between sobs she just looked shyly at me, obviously grief-stricken and even a little ashamed.
Jennyfer’s family, you see, live in the province of Leyte in the Philippines, and she supports her 9 siblings and parents, being the only one with a job at 22 years of age. Jobs and affordable or free medical help are rare in the area, and sadly, many children and infants die an early death.
On the upside, infant mortality rates in the Philippines have declined a little, by around 2% since 2003 – with 22.81 deaths for every 1,000 births. Nevertheless, it was with a heavy heart that I gave her some money to send back to her sister this morning, money for the funeral and some rice, wishing that we could have somehow helped save this child’s life.