Because He Belongs
A name is a powerful thing. With one simple word, something or someone is identified, remembered, and even emotions attached to the designate of that name are stirred up. A name means someone has a place in the world, that they are wanted here, and that they matter. Since the beginning of time, names have been used as identification and attachment for us as a human race – like our stamp of ownership on the earth, showing that we belong here.In our modern, melted culture, baby names are more often chosen for the parents’ love of their sound, not necessarily the depth of their meaning. In our modern times in our modern world, most babies are named even before they are born and therefore come into the world already being known and identified. But that, too, is a luxury of being in the Western World, where we create birth plans that we expect to be carried out in a hospital we expect to take care of us, we determine how much or how little pain we want to endure, and we name our children based on our own particular likes or dislikes. There are so many things that we cannot even fathom not being able to control.On that particular day, I don’t think Nick or anyone else on their team thought much about how important their names were. They got up and hopped on the Hero Holiday truck as it headed towards Puerto Plata Hospital, looking forward to another great day of work. No one thought that naming a baby would be a part of the plan. They expected to be shocked at the conditions of the hospital and expected to have to roll up their sleeves to work.The mother’s name was unknown to us. She was a 15 year old victim of rape. Scared and without money, she suddenly went into labour two months ahead of her due date. The baby boy was born with a major heart issue and when our team arrived at the hospital that day to help out, the mother was still in the hospital, twelve days after giving birth. He needed to get to a better hospital to get the proper care and yet no one had helped them until that morning. To make matters worse, the hospital ran out of oxygen for the baby, and the situation was reaching a critical mass. Someone managed to run out and buy more oxygen, helping to alleviate a little of the pressure, but still there were so many unanswered questions.According to Nick, the baby’s grandmother was a very kind and strong lady. The tiny child was malformed and almost non-responsive. Stroking his fragile arm with love and tenderness through the incubator hole, she never left his side during the whole time the team was there. As our team approached her to offer support, one of the leaders asked her about the mother, and during the course of the conversation that ensued, Katie, the team leader was asked to be the godmother of the child. Touched, the team asked what the baby’s name was. However, they were saddened to realize that after being born for 12 days, because of everything else surrounding his birth, the baby boy still had no name. And that was when the grandma asked them the ultimate question: “Would you give our baby a name?”Shocked, the team attempted to politely decline. After all, who wants to have the responsibility and pressure of naming a stranger’s baby? But after much insistence by the grandmother, the team decided to give him a name: Nicholas (after Nick, a team member) Mykalia (after the mother). Would that little baby survive? Probably not. The odds were so huge against him that there wasn’t much hope of him ever being able to live very long. He wasn’t only the result of a rape or a traumatic birth, he was another victim of poverty and his life was proof that we must continue to fight for a better future for children such as him.Little Nicholas’ life has touched the earth. He has lived, he has breathed, he has been loved, and he has had a name. His life may never be known to many people in the world, but to a small group of Hero Holiday participants from that incredible day, he will never be forgotten. His tiny footprint is on their hearts.Hero Holiday is returning to Dominican Republic this summer. During our time there, we will be helping out families such as those of young Nicholas and his mother. We will also be working with Haitian refugees, helping to bring medical care and working alongside of those whom we admire to help bring hope and compassion. Please consider joining us!