There are no words for the loss of the child

My nephew, Archer Beeme, has a unique name because he has a unique story.

A year before Archer was born, my sister miscarried. As I try and think of a sentence to elaborate on what she must have felt, I feel a lump forming in my throat and tears in my eyes.

There are no words for the loss of a child.

After experiencing this loss, when my sister became pregnant with Archer, she was afraid to hope.

But everything changed at her first sonogram. The doctor turned the screen toward her, and a repetitive flash of light on the monitor caught her attention — his heartbeat.

Throughout her pregnancy, my sister prayed that God would keep that little beam of light going. My sister and brother-in-law didn’t want to know the gender of their child during pregnancy, but affectionately called him “Baby Sunbeam” through the rest of the nine months.

When Archer was born, it only seemed natural to find a way to incorporate "Baby Sunbeam" into his legal name; so he is named Archer Beeme. His little light kept shining, and I am delighted to call him my nephew.

We just celebrated Archer Beeme’s third birthday. These are not just birthday parties — they truly are celebrations. Archer is a life that was prayed for, hoped for, and dreamed about before we ever met him. We are grateful for his life, and the little light that he is.

Archer blows out the candles on his birthday cake with a little help from dad (Lindsey Minerva/ World Vision).

I feel blessed that Archer was born into a family with parents who love him. I don’t worry about him having enough to eat, access to medicines, or clean water to drink. I know that he has every chance at living a full, healthy life. I look forward to celebrating many more birthdays with Archer and my family.

What breaks my heart is knowing that parents around the world don’t have that same peace of mind.

Right now in Angola, drought and food shortages are threatening millions. News sources aren’t saying much on the subject, but the most vulnerable amidst the crisis are children.

Laurinda, a pregnant mother of seven, is one of many who are suffering. Her youngest daughter, Emelinda, became sick with a fever and diarrhea. In order to get help for her, Laurinda must walk hours down a rough dirt road with her daughter.

Today alone, a lack of access to food, clean water, and immunizations means that 20,000 children won’t reach their fifth birthday. Malaria, pneumonia, malnutrition, water borne illnesses, and many other diseases are claiming victim after victim.

Mothers and fathers have no choice but to watch helplessly as their children fight to survive, and lose.

There are no words for the loss of a child.

But every day, parents are forced to face this unspeakable pain -- and they shouldn’t have to. It’s not a question of a parent’s desire to see their child survive. It’s not that we don’t know how to treat these diseases. It’s a matter of resources.

This is unjust.  No parent should have to watch their child lose their life to a treatable, preventable disease.

Emelinda deserves medical care just as much as Archer.

If a child reaches their fifth birthday, their chance of surviving dramatically increases.

Reaching this crucial age requires simple, effective interventions like bed nets to prevent malaria, and access to immunizations.

Simple preventative measures mean that children have a better chance at reaching their fifth birthday and a long healthy life. For parents, it means celebrating the life of their child, year after year.

What are your thoughts on the injustice of preventable child deaths?

World Vision has developed the Survive to Five™ Challenge to help children get access to this critical care.

Because of the effectiveness of our work, we have been awarded grants that will triple any contribution made to this program. You can help children gain access to necessary care by giving to the Survive to Five™ Challenge.

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