August 5, 2019
She was less than one month old, but Baby Rosa and her family had already been through an unimaginable journey when she arrived at Dr. Kim Mukerjee’s office for a checkup two weeks ago.
Just four days before Rosa was born, her mother, father, and two young siblings arrived in the United States from Honduras. Traveling by foot, by car, and by bus to escape dire poverty and violence, they left behind everything they knew to seek a home where the children could play safely, dream, and grow toward a hopeful future. Remarkably, Rosa’s mother was several months into her pregnancy during the trip, and four days later she went into labor with Rosa. Without transportation of their own or even a cell phone to call 9-1-1, the family barely made it to the hospital parking lot where Rosa was born.
Now, nearly one month later, Rosa and her mother were being cared for by Dr. Mukerjee at our New Orleans Children’s Health Project, the only program in the entire state of Louisiana providing comprehensive primary care to migrant children, regardless of their ability to pay. Rosa was strong and growing perfectly. But a child’s health goes far beyond a single medical appointment.
An expert in assessing the full health history and urgent concerns of her patients, Dr. Mukerjee sat, listened, and talked with Rosa’s mother to build trust and hear more about their needs. Rosa’s mother told Dr. Mukerjee that they have no way to pay rent, and it got worse. “There’s no food at home,” she said, looking down at Rosa, who she was holding in her arms. “I don’t know what we are going to do.” Before the family left the clinic, Dr. Mukerjee and her team provided the family with donated newborn clothing, diapers, and supplies to help sustain Rosa’s immediate needs. Yet they knew the family needed so much more.
Every month for the last year, an average of 20 recently-arrived migrant children are seeking care at the small clinic. The clinic’s emergency funds and supplies have run dry. Concerned for Rosa and her siblings, that evening Dr. Mukerjee donated a cart-full of foods like rice, beans, milk, and produce, medicines like vitamin D drops for Rosa, clothes for all three children, and even coloring books and crayons to stimulate the children’s growing minds. When she delivered the items to their home the next morning, the children squealed with excitement. But Dr. Mukerjee was shocked when she saw that the family had no mattresses to sleep on, or even blankets. With the oldest child starting school soon, Dr. Mukerjee feared for her ability to reach her potential in school without a place to get a restful night’s sleep.
That one delivery will not be enough to sustain the health of Rosa and her siblings long-term. The family does not qualify for food stamp programs, and local community resources are unable to meet the needs of families like theirs. We are desperately trying to ensure funds exist to support the immediate needs of babies like Rosa.
Your donation will help children like Rosa and her siblings have access to adequate healthcare, food, clothing, and supplies to help them grow, learn, develop, and thrive. Doesn’t every child deserve this?