Daryl Famisaran, who leads a group of missionary/Bible Workers in East Mindoro shared his experience with this cruel cultural practice, and the dream God has given him and the missionaries to help end it.
By Daryl Famisaran
I was going to…have…some repairs done on our car when I was interrupted by a call from Brother Larry, the head elder of our church.
“Sir Daryl, two of your missionaries are here. They have a surprise gift for you.”
WHAT? What surprise? And why this early when it is not yet time for them to come down for the reporting?
Then Elna, one of the two missionaries from Mawan, approached me with a trace of dried tears in her eyes and a bundle in her arms. BABY! A NEW BORN BABY!
I looked into her eyes and asked. “Why? What is this all about?”
Her eyes welled up again with tears…I calmed her down. Then Vernadette, her teammate, joined us. She had just finished washing the piece of cloth soiled with fresh blood they used for carrying the baby from the far mountain school.
Elna, again brushing her tears away, gathered her composure and related the story from the morning when they were at their village in the mountains.
We had not finished worshipping yet that morning in our teachers’ cottage and there were already children waiting outside our door. Why are the students at our door this early? We wondered. This is an unusual scene. There must be some reason. Obviously they were just waiting for us to finish our prayer.
“What is this baby you are talking about?”
“Ma’am please, take the baby! Take the baby! They are throwing away the baby and will bury her alive!”
We went straight to the house. There was the baby in one corner of the little hut still in her fresh blood with the umbilical cord still uncut. She lay on the dirty bamboo slab floor with a piece of sack beside her ready to be used to carry her to the woods to bury her ALIVE!
The mother was obviously tired and exhausted from the painful labour. She was turning her back from the baby. The father sat silently on one side looking away through the window. Naniw the older son, our grade 3 pupil, was sitting holding his 3-year-old sister, waiting in agony for the last verdict of the mother for the fate of his newborn sister.
The Mangyans believe these kinds of [unwanted] babies are bad omens and when not dumped will bring more deaths or epidemics to the village and many more will die.
“May we have your baby?” I asked through an interpreter. There was a long pause…husband and wife looked at each other. Their eyes were talking. Shall we give our baby or not? Give it away or bury it?
“Go ask again!” I pushed the interpreter.
“The teachers are willing to take care of your baby,” he said in their local language.
I waited for more agonizing seconds as I was thinking of the baby that needs to be nursed right away.
For what seemed an eternity I looked at the mother, and at last I got a nod.
“Let’s move now.” I picked up the baby. Somebody from the crowd, a mother, cut the cord.
As one last try I pleaded with the mother. “Please nurse your baby first before we go.”
“DAYO! NO!” The mother was firm!
Vernadette tied a piece of cloth on my neck as a sling to carry the baby. A group of children came with us in full support to help us in any way on our two hour hike to Ligawan. There we could get a motorbike ride on a winding rough mountain trail to Mansalay town.
We have never hiked that fast through the forest trail as we were in a hurry to save the baby. I am really afraid of leeches, and I scream in fear whenever I see one. But during that time I was so focused on saving the baby that I forgot about the leeches. Little did I know that my legs were oozing with blood because of the ugly blood suckers that had fallen off because they were already full.
We arrived in Ligawan in no time. Good, there was Heyesca, the uncle of the baby, who owns a motorbike.
Dark clouds were gathering in the sky.
“Lord!” I whispered a plea. “Please hold the rain!” But the rain did come.
Using an umbrella we just secured the baby. We were soaked except for the baby. “Lord,” I prayed again. “The trail is wet and dangerous for motorbikes, but we need to hurry to save her. Please help Heyesca and save us from any accident.”
I remembered when we came on the bikes for the first time, we had bruises after being thrown over because of the very rough trail. But Heyesca did his best and we made it safe to town.
There in town my companion bought a baby bottle and Bear Brand powdered milk. When we arrived at the church elder’s home the mothers there asked why Bear Brand? Little did I know that Bear Brand is not a milk designed for infants.
Somebody ran to get help to fix the umbilical cord. We washed the baby with warm water to clean the dried blood away and other dried mucus from the placenta that stuck the hairs of the baby. There were two nursing mothers in that house and one of them nursed our baby.
What a story!
This brought me to think. Lord, what do you want me to do next? This is another ministry to consider.
I carried the baby home in my arms with the two missionaries with me. My wife was sitting by our window still brushing the sleep away from her eyes. I didn’t say a word, I just moved close to her so she could discover what I had in my arms.
“What do you have there?” She asked. “A BABY! A BABY! Where in the world did you get this?” Looking at the two lady missionaries she knew right away. “From Mawan?”
“Yes from Mawan,” they answered.
“Why! Why! Why! Tell me! Tell me please.” Then the two told the story again.
She had goose bumps and tears just welled up her eyes. “Why are these people so cruel to their babies burying them alive?” She cried. “What a pity and a baby GIRL!”
She looked into my eyes with that pity look for the baby, seemingly to say… “I’ll take this baby, I’ll take this baby. I’ll take care of her as my own and I will love her.”
We have no baby of our own, but we had already adopted five orphans when we were still with SULADS in Mindanao. Those were all boys all from the mountain schools. Our boys are already grown up. Two have graduated from college. Our eldest has just married and will be having his baby soon too. Our youngest boy is in grade ten. And they welcome their new baby sister with love.
But there are more babies coming. Because we are yet in our pioneering stage in educating our mountain people. Education takes a very slow process to change this evil culture of burying their unwanted babies alive. Our missionaries told us that the people told them that they have already buried so many babies alive. I instructed them that if ever there are more cases like this, go ahead save the babies and bring them down. These are precious souls to save.
We will register this baby to the name of her parents SHARYL VEM N. BABA, but we will just be the foster parents for her. We will educate her and prepare her to be a missionary teacher back to her own people. We dream that she will be the one to take care of her parents, if time still permits, and she will be the one to bring the advocacy in her village and all the Mangyan Villages in the mountains to stop burying their babies. She is now a living testimony as a saved victim of that cruel culture of her people.
I prayed again Lord, what do you want me to do next? ORPHANAGE! ORPHANAGE! This is what God inspired me to do next. This is a big project. But is there anything too hard for the Lord? I have proved Him seeing His hand in MIRACLES while we were still with SULADS doing so many seemingly impossible projects. But God saw us through.
It has been nearly four years since the Famisarans began fostering little Sharyl. Since then, Daryl and his wife have taken in another unwanted baby, a little boy. As the ninth born in the family, his parents could not afford to take care of him. His parents begged his relatives and others to take him, but no one did. Finally they asked the missionaries in their village who took the baby to the Famisarans.
The Famisarans still have a dream to start an orphanage to save the lives of these unwanted babies. They were donated a 22-acre property to use for ministry. They plan to build a missionary training center, as well as houses for missionary families who will care for the children. These children will live with the missionaries in loving homes where they can learn how precious they are in God’s sight and become advocates for the lives of other unwanted babies.
While these children grow, the missionaries also educating the other young people in the village in hopes of ending their cruel cultural practice.
The Famisarans and the missionaries are currently building huts with wood from the property to live in, but these will only last for a few years. They would like to someday have more permanent homes on the ministry property.
Please pray for the building on the property, and especially for missionary families to come and care for these little ones and prepare them for the kingdom!
If you would like to join hands with the Famisarans and the missionaries in this ministry, please click the button below.