Monday, September 02, 2013

No name for 2 weeks...

Coming from a background where parents often name their child before he/she is even born, it still comes as a surprise to me at times that in Sierra Leone children are not named at birth. 

Traditionally in Sierra Leone when a child is born they are not given a name. Generally, once a child is a week old, there is a 'pull na door' ceremony. Literally this is when the child is 'pulled out of the door' or brought out of the house to be presented to the family/community members. At this time, the child's name is announced. This is otherwise known as a naming ceremony.

I've been thinking about it and I think part of the reason is because in a country with one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, people just aren't sure if their child will be 'lucky' enough to make it through the first week. So people are cautious, and once the child has made it through that first week, the families are confident to give the child a name. I think that naming a child makes everything more real - their is ownership, relationship, a sense of belonging.

Today I saw a new cleft lip/palate patient. She is two weeks old and the parents have not named her. Why? Because of her birth defect. They are not sure what to do with the child. I wonder if they are questioning whether or not the child will survive, or if they are trying to distance themselves from the child. Maybe for as long as the child does not have a name, she doesn't seem real, she's not a part of their lives and they do not need to love her. It's sad. I don't know why this happens. 

So what did I do? I encouraged the family that this child's problem can be solved. She is not a devil child. It is not the mother's or father's fault. God made this little girl and what she needs is a lot of milk, love and affection. I suggested naming her because I think that by giving her a name, her mother will realize that she is a very real little human being that needs to be loved and cared for. By giving her a name maybe they will realize she is theirs and that they need to do their best to make sure this child survives. Maybe by giving this child a name her chances of survival will increase because she will start receiving the care that she needs. I hope the parents will discuss it. The grandmother on the other hand is very willing to give the child her own name. You have to love grandmothers!


Unknown said...

So... did this little one get a name? I hope the granni got her way! Have you seen them again? The love and patience you hace for these tiny helpless babes and their families is wonderful. Keep up the good work Sandra. x x x

david said...

think you for the news is very interessant

~ Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly. micah 6:8 ~