Danica: How we all fell in Love
I only know her first name: Danica. She was 18 months old, abandoned, and a Haitian child of parents with no country of origin, living in Dominican Republic. She was stateless, and no one knew she existed.
I had only heard her cry once, and had never seen her give any response to anyone. My friends, Phil and Donna, had found her in a house where she had been left alone for up to 8 hours a day because her mother had abandoned her and her father was in another part of the country working. He had people watching her, but he was no where to be found.
LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) had decided that we would adopt her and we would commit to her medical and personal care. She was unable to walk or talk, and was very sick from a urinary tract infection that had been left untreated for weeks, perhaps months, on end. We had taken pictures of her and we were all excited
to meet the family that was going to be taking care of her when she got out of the hospital…
Danica never made it out of the hospital. My phone rang this morning at 1:00AM. Danica slipped into eternity, holding the hand of a stranger who had volunteered to stay up with her last night…just another little nameless child, another victim of statelessness, caught in the vice-grip of poverty and lack of education. Danica is one of 30,000 children that died today; all of them from totally preventable diseases, all of them just as valuable as our own children.
We couldn’t bear the thought of no one being there to celebrate her life, so we gave her a proper funeral and burial today. No one could find her family, so today, at 4:30 in the afternoon, 12 random Canadians, one translator and 4 Haitians from her village came out to celebrate her life. We could not celebrate her first steps, or her smile, or even the sound of her laughter, because we had never had the privilege of experiencing any of those things with her. We only knew of her struggle, her pain, and her abandonment. Instead, we came to celebrate her young life and to commit to something bigger than all of us: we will somehow, in someway, fight this evil predator called poverty. It is ruthless and cruel, and it leaves a wake of destruction in it’s path, but it can be confronted. I believe that we can do it. I really do.
Today, as I joined with my friends in putting flowers on Danica’s tiny little grave, I made yet another resolution in my heart: her life will have counted for something and her story will be told.
Danica, I will tell your story. I will be your voice. I will fight for those who can’t fight on their own. I will draw on the strength of my faith and resolve to be a strength wherever I can. I will choose, for your sake and the sake of so many more like you, to see the solution and not let the problem swallow me up.
Danica, your life has spoken to me, and your name will live on. Thank you for coming into my life and for renewing the passion to fight for many more like you…
I hardly knew you, but I love you.
Sleep well, little girl…