Survive to Five

“How come those babies get a chance to live to see five?”

“Kyleigh didn’t live to see five and we live in America.”

“It’s not fair that babies who are born into such poverty are born healthy enough to survive, yet my baby, who had all the resources available to her, died.”

These are just a few of the thoughts that went through my mind the first time I heard about Survive to Five. It is a program through World Vision that helps children all over the world live until their fifth birthday and beyond. The program provides vaccinations, medicine, clean water, neonatal care and more to babies and birth mothers, giving them a greater chance of surviving not only birth, but well beyond that. The idea, obviously, is that people will donate money to the program to help in these efforts. I first heard about this on the radio a few months ago. When I stopped to pay attention to what they were talking about, I got mad. Really mad. So mad that I turned the radio off.

Let’s be honest here, we expect all babies in America to be born alive and healthy. We have some of the most advanced medical technology in the world.  We have some of the best doctors in the world. I think that’s why when a baby in America dies before or during birth or is born unhealthy, we are shocked. How could this happen? It is not a shock to us when we see poverty and famine in Third World countries, where babies die every day. I think it’s almost more of a shock that babies are actually born in such dire conditions. How can a woman carry a baby to term when she herself is malnourished? It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t seem fair.

As the weeks went on, I continued to hear the World Vision advertisement and each time I listened to more of the message, until finally I had heard all of it. And right along with that God was telling me that they are all His children. Every life created, every baby born is His. And they all deserve a chance to live until age 5. It doesn’t matter whether that child is born in Africa, India, Haiti or America. What makes babies in America any more special than babies in Haiti? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. In my eyes, my children are more special than any others because they are my children. In God’s eyes, they are all the same. He loves them all unconditionally. Kyleigh is no more or no less important to God than a baby born on the same day at the same time in another country.

As humans, we have a hard time with this. Or should I say, as Americans, we have a hard time with this. We feel like we are entitled to so much more than anybody else. This Friday, Black Friday, is a great example of that. How ridiculous is it that people line up hours and hours before a store opens to be the first in the door to get that one toy that Johnny wants for Christmas?? How ridiculous is it that every year, stores open earlier and earlier so that people can get the best deals earlier than last year?? Or have more time to shop?? I get that it’s a great time to get the best bargain. But is that what it’s all about? My oldest son wants a Lego set for Christmas. It costs almost $100. He’s five. He doesn’t need a one-hundred dollar Lego set. Yes, I’m sure I could find some great Black Friday deal and get it for less. But guess what? I’m not going to. I am going to take the opportunity to teach him a lesson about not getting everything we want. And I guarantee, he will still be a happy boy come Christmas morning. The consumerism in this country is out of control and honestly, it’s sad. It is sad that people gripe and complain about having to stand in line, in the cold, waiting on the bargains when there are people on the other side of the world standing in line, hungry, waiting to get clean water.

I have seen billboards around town lately for Giving Tuesday, which is November 27. I love it. I think it’s a great idea. I wish I had Googled it before yesterday. When I did look it up, the first idea that I had was to find a way for not only our family, but others, to give to Kyleigh’s Gift, the fund that we have set up through The Liberty Hospital Foundation in memory of Kyleigh. At some point, we will meet with people from the LH Foundation and decide what to do with the money. We have a few ideas and will collaborate with the hospital when the time is right. Whatever we end up doing, we want it to benefit others who have lost a child. We want to do something to support those who are going through what we are going through. Our hope is that whatever we do is ongoing. That means that the funds must continue, as well. This seemed like the perfect opportunity. But how do you get others to give to your cause?

We listen to the radio every morning from the time we get up until the time we leave the house. It is on during every meal and always when we are cooking and cleaning up. When we turned it on this morning, K-LOVE’s featured cause was Survive to Five. All day, they have been talking about the Survive to Five program and asking listeners to sponsor a child through World Vision. We currently sponsor three children. I will admit that we aren’t the best at it. We send our money every month, but when it comes to communicating through letters or gifts, we have some work to do. It is easy to sign up for automatic withdrawal. It takes time to sit down and write a letter or draw a picture. We are not in the position to sponsor another child right now, or else I would have called today to sign up for one more. Instead, God led me in another direction. I don’t need to worry about building up the Kyleigh’s Gift fund. That will happen over time through family and friends. I know that God will work through Kyleigh’s Gift when the time is right.

Right now, the focus is on others. The focus is on those babies and children in Africa, India and Haiti who are on the brink of not seeing their 5th birthday. The hope for my family is that we will focus on the three children that we sponsor. What can we do to teach our own children about these three boys who don’t have Legos to play with? How can we pray for these boys as a family? When can we take the time to sit down to write letters and draw pictures? How about skipping that meal out so we can send a birthday present each year? Our sponsorship not only directly helps our sponsored child, but their family and community, as well. Is our monthly gift providing clean water to their community? Is that clean water keeping babies and children alive? We like to think so.

What can you do? How will you give this year? Will you give up a meal out each month to sponsor a child? Will you skip the Black Friday lines (along with me) and take some of the money you would have spent to provide clean water for those in need? If you do stand in the Black Friday lines, will you take the money that you saved from getting the best deals and buy a fruit tree or chickens for a farmer in South America? If you don’t give through World Vision, where will you give? How can you give someone else hope?

Kyleigh has taught us a lot. One of the things that she has taught me is that we are all the same in God’s eyes. While I was grieving for the loss of my baby girl, another mother in another country was doing the same. Her grief was just as intense. The love for her child was just as powerful. God loves both of us the same. He loves both of our children the same. God also provides for both of us. He uses you and me to make this happen. Help me provide for someone else in need during this season of giving.

 

~Leann

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