Living Vicariously As A Peripatetic Shutterbug

{ More musings from the Cantankerous Old Mule }


Warning: Some photos at the end of this blog post may be disturbing to sensitive readers.

What’s the most jarring thing that has happened to you recently? Put slightly differently, when last did you experience a perspective defining moment that really did change you – beyond that moment?

For me it was coming across a mother nursing her tiny two-week-old baby in a flood relief camp this week. I had gone down to the group of tents with Tanja, a qualified midwife. She runs Mobile-Hilfe-Madagascar, which operates a mobile clinic for people on the “margin” of society, and those who can’t travel to seek medical care.

The mobile clinic

The clinic

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People waiting to see the doctor

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Examinations inside

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Mother and child

On this day they had parked the clinic on the edge of a small flood-relief settlement close to the main “Digue” road, where there were at least 80 people lined up in the shade waiting to be seen by the doctor. I was walking around amongst the tents chatting to people, playing with the kids and taking photos when I saw a mother and her baby. I smiled at the woman; she smiled back. To my untrained eye the child looked grey; not quite right. And so I called Tanja.

It turns out the little girl had been born prematurely two weeks ago. Shockingly, she had lost over 800 grams body weight since birth and the effort of suckling was just too much for it.

“If you hadn’t found this baby today I’m not sure how much longer she would have lived,” Tanja told me. “As tragic as the flooding and the massive displacement of people from their homes has been, the fact that this mother and child are here, with access to medical help, means there is hope for the baby. I can only imagine what would have happened to her if they had been at home, and not been able to get to a doctor in time.”

For the next hour Tanja examined the baby, taught the mother how to express her milk manually (people here don’t have access to fancy breast pumps) and fed the child with a teaspoon.

“By teaching this mother how to care for her baby, hopefully she will be able to teach others,” Tanja continued.

For the first time that morning I saw the baby calm down and sleep and saw a look of relief replace the worry on her mother’s face. By the following day she was already looking better, with more colour in her face.

That twee, over-used, cliché about tossing starfish back into the sea and making a difference in one starfish’s life has begun to irritate me when I see it on Facebook or Pinterest. But here, in the real world, Tanja was able to make a difference in one baby’s life by being in the right place at the right time. In fact, we all can. Not everyone is called to be a missionary or aid worker, but everyone can make a difference.

I don’t know what the little girl’s future holds but it has to be better today than it was on Monday.


8 comments on “Hope

  1. Kim Barker
    March 20, 2015

    Robin, thank you for this post, which moved me deeply and got me thinking about many things. One of these thoughts was about how just by being ‘you’ in the situation an opportunity opened up to save a precious life. If you had been, say, a doctor stuck in a tent with a queue of people waiting to see you you would not have noticed her. Too often I get stuck in who I am not and forget to offer who I am. Your story invites me to stop doing that!

  2. Rhonda
    March 20, 2015

    This is the most profound posting I have read from you yet. You are so right, no matter where we are, no matter what God has called us to do with our lives, we can make a huge difference, one person and one loving act at a time. Thank you for being where you are and taking these photos. It has blessed me this morning to see someone loving their brothers and sisters on the earth.

  3. denisechabot
    March 20, 2015

    Ceci m’a profondément remuée… Si tu n’avais pas été là…
    Je pense à ma fille, Romane, qui est malade et tousse tout le temps, je la soigne, de jour comme de nuit pour qu’elle guérisse, mais quand je pense à cette nuit où j’ai très peu dormi…
    Qu’est ce que c’est en rapport avec cette misère…
    Qui suis je pour me plaindre de devoir aller au bureau après une mauvaise nuit… Et ma fille ignore aussi la chance qu’elle a d’avoir accès à tout (médicament, confort…) de manière absolument naturelle pour elle…
    Merci Robin de me recentrer grâce à tes images et à tes histoires, ou plutôt, merci de m’obliger à me décentrer et donc à méloigner de moi-même… et de regarder vers les autres…

  4. There_Lot
    March 20, 2015

    Everyone can make a difference.. don’t even have to travel far to do matter where you live..hope we see a follow up blog on how she and her mother is doing soon!

  5. Donna
    March 20, 2015

    What a touching and poignant story.

  6. jocelynr
    March 20, 2015

    Reblogged this on and commented:

    Another reblog about those displaced due to flooding and friends who help them.

  7. Geraldine
    March 23, 2015

    Using your photography to make a difference … well done!

  8. Tanya31girl
    March 25, 2015

    Tanja – my dear friend. Love this article about you and YOUR HEART to serve and to save. So proud to know you girl! YOU look amazing and my heart is filled with JOY knowing you are RIGHT where God needs you to be!

Comments are closed.


This entry was posted on March 20, 2015 by in Madagascar, Real Life and tagged , , , , .
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