31 Jul A baby named Mario without a mother anymore
Dr Mario Atzeni had never worked in an African hospital.
Many years of honored service, head of pediatric at the hospital in Piombino A respected professional who’s still active on the territory even now after his retirement. But he had never seen such severe levels of malnutrition in babies and nursing mothers. Resignation to loss and pain were not to be seen in the eyes of the so many mothers he had met in Italy.
When some friends proposed him to volunteer with doctors of ASPOS in order to improve the pediatric ward at the hospital in Adwa, he didn’t think twice.
And as soon as he could he left with his colleagues Giampaolo and Vittorio,“veterans” of Ethiopia.
But none of them were really ready to face the severity of diseases, in a place where no medicines are available, malnutrition is severe and food cannot be found easily, where complications are caused by traumas and burns and there’s no medical equipment to treat them.
And so, when they were faced to the death of a woman due to eclampsia (seizures resulting from the worsening of pregnancy problems) they could not ignore the fact that there was a few-day-old orphan baby somewhere whom the mother had given birth to at home some days before.
Which was this baby’s story? Were there any relatives?
Sister Laura always knows how to act in such situations, how to get information and how to share with the community every choice.
Every step has been taken respecting the local culture, deep feelings to deal with, laws.
This is the terrible story that has been reconstructed: the woman lived in a mud pit in the mountains, an hour and a half walk from the nearest village (another hour and a half far from Adwa by car). You’d need hours and hours to reach the first hospital on foot.
Once the woman started having fever and seizures. some members of the family took her to the “Holy water” in a stretcher, that’s locally believed to be a sacred and purifying place where sick people are immerged praying. After 24 hours the situation got worse.
The new mother was brought, already in a coma, to the hospital of the Mission. Unfortunately, doctors could do nothing more…
When the doctors requested to see the new born, they could state that the baby was miraculously healthy Dr Atzeni asked sister Lura what life chances were for this baby
since artificial milk was not to be found and, in any case, much expensive…
Sister Laura decided to initiate practice to adopt him: her 64th son! But it was fair to go and look for his father to understand if this was the right choice for him. So they left together with a medical team and the Ethiopian interpreter to reach the mud pit in the mountains.
This is their story: “we travelled for 2 hours to search the village and made an appointment with the father and with the elders of the village. The father lives one hour and half far from the village on a mountain unpaved road. Next day we were back. He was waiting for us with the two older girls. They are very poor , live in a mud pit in one only room. He asked us to keep the baby till he was three years old but Sister Laura preferred to suggest if they wanted to move to Adwa and be helped there. Dr Mario Atzeni, volunteer pediatrician on his first trip to Africa committed himself to send regular donations from Italy to help. The baby has been re-baptized with his name.
The father has accepted and signed at the presence of witnesses of the village. He proposed, crying, to come and see him once every month. The baby is healthy, at birth he weighed 2,5 kgs.
For the moment, he eats and sleeps well.
The mother unfortunately was too much weakened by pregnancy, poor nutrition and by eclampsia which got worse and worse till she died.
We are shocked after this meeting and emotionally touched after having seeing how they live and what they have to go through daily.
Help from Italy is fundamental to save the life of many other children like Mario.
Fortunately, you always stay with us and with Salesians in this daily assistance: heartfelt thanks