There are lots of good uses for newspapers:
- To bring us the news, sports, etc.
- To make a hat (do people do that anymore?)
- To fan ourselves
- To cover the floor when we paint
- To blot up spills
What I do not consider a good use for a newspaper:
To wrap a newborn baby for a poor mother to transport from the hospital to her home.
And yet there are literally hundreds of girls every month using newspaper for this very thing.
Why? Because they are so achingly poor that they have absolutely nothing to bring with them to the public hospital where they will give birth–only the clothes on their backs. There have been no baby showers thrown by friends to encourage and equip the new mother. No relatives or neighbors providing hand-me-downs from their children. No sweet little outfits to dress the babe in. No cosy baby blanket to wrap that newborn. Nothing. Nada!
I must say that, when a lot of us hear about these situations, we are burdened to do something about it but we don’t know what. Some of us are willing and able to give money–but not knowing how it will be used presents a problem. And knowing just where to direct those funds is another problem. And, of course, we would like those funds to be used as efficiently as possible so as to minister to the maximum number possible.
Some of us are able to do something, but we don’t really have any idea what would help. A drop in the bucket. An ember burning all alone.
One woman heard about the plight of these young girls and decided to do something about it.
Enter Niños de Dios (God’s Children).
My friend Sandy decided to do something about it. She is a skilled craftswoman when it comes to needlework, crocheting, knitting–you get the idea. She came to Panama with an inventory of fabrics, yarn, etc. and has, out of her own pocket, purchased additional materials. She came up with a plan to create receiving blankets from soft cotton flannel and to decorate them with a crocheted edging–simple to make, simple to teach, economical.
Next, we needed to let others know. We set up a time and place: 4 PM on Mondays (every Monday!) at the Coronado Bible Church in Coronado. Ladies (and even men, if we could find any) were welcome to come and put their skills to use making receiving blankets for these babes. We announced it in church. We announced it at our business networking meetings. We talked about it with friends.
We came. We worked. We gave.
Each Monday would bring new faces. We have Panamanian ladies who speak no English who come to help. We have folks who are just visiting for a couple of weeks who come to help. And, of course, we have the permanent resident expats who come to help.
We crochet. We knit. We sew. We quilt. We create receiving blankets, quilts, baby washcloths, knitted caps. Hundreds of them!
Sandy set her goal at 100 pieces per month to deliver to the hospital. We have, on a monthly basis, far exceeded that goal.
Our first delivery (you will excuse the word) to the hospital was a tear-jerking, heart-rending experience. The wards hold up to 40 indigent girls. Some of these girls are as young as 12, children themselves–most come from the poor mountain areas surrounding Penonomé, the capital city of the district of Coclé. Many are victims of incest and rape. Yes, there is definitely another work to be done there, but we will focus on helping them once those babies come by letting them know there are people who don’t even know them who love them and want to help.
It soon became apparent that we would need lots more materials, so we prepared for a Christmas in July sale to raise additional funds for more flannel, yarn, etc. Many of the women worked on beautiful table runners, potholders, kitchen fingertip towels, dishcloths. We offered these and more and managed to raise over $1,000 dollars in a single Tuesday! As you can imagine, those funds have long since been used up and many more items have been delivered to the hospital in the meantime.
This kind of sale requires a lot of time, effort and materials, as you can imagine. We do plan to have another sale in November, focusing on Christmas items. We expect it will bring in some good additional funds, but you also understand that these sales and the preparation for these sales takes our workforce away from their primary purpose of creating items for the poor girls giving birth in the hospital in Penonomé.
You may have noticed that I have written most of this in the first person plural. That is because, since its inception, I have been a part of Niños de Dios and am proud to have been a part of its organization. I am passionate about the work that is being done here. We have seen it grow in our regular Monday meetings and we have even spun off another group which consists of the Bible study group of one of our members. There is room for more!
Although Panama is a prosperous country with a growing middle class, there are still many needy people in Panama. This is our way of helping those who literally cannot help themselves.
Remember, you can join us on Mondays at 4 in the afternoon at Coronado Bible Church in Coronado, Panama.
Or, you can also make cash donations for materials which will be used only for that purpose. We have no administrative costs. We use our own vehicles and fuel for delivery. Every penny goes into materials to create sweet things for sweet things!