When her daughter married and moved to a village some distance from her own, Ana Andrew’s grandmother said goodbye with a mixture of joy and sorrow. Neither owned a phone and so time passed without any communication. After almost a year someone from her son-in-law’s family came to tell Ana’s grandmother that her daughter had died shortly after delivering a premature baby girl. She was told that her daughter died from asthma. The story was vague. Apparently the young woman had become ill and went to the hospital where she delivered and died. Lingering unanswered questions regarding untimely deaths are often the norm in Malawi. Irrespective of the story, Ana’s grandmother knew the tragedy and horror would remain unchanged. She collected her 2lb 10oz granddaughter, looked in her bright and hungry eyes and decided that she would be the focus.
She brought Ana to Bwaila Maternity Hospital where they were admitted to the kangaroo ward. Kangaroo care has shown to improve survival for premature and low birth weight babies in low resource settings. It involves tying the baby skin to skin between the breasts of the mother or guardian and keeping them in this position day and night, except when feeding, bathing or changing. Women stay in the ward while nurses teach and supervise the condition of their babies. Ana was discharged home weighing 3lbs 3oz. At this point nurses from Joyful Motherhood stepped in and began their regular visits – building a relationship with Ana’s grandmother and extended family. assessing Ana, providing formula, and later porridge. Ana is now 1 year old. She is not yet walking, but she speaks clearly, calling people by name and asking for food when she’s hungry.