Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Family of 7 . . . Wait, Make That 11!

(Above photo from globo.com)

On Thursday last week, I received an email telling me about a very special family. I don't know if it was crazy maternal hormones, divine intervention, or what, but their story really touched me, and I immediately sprang to action trying to find out more and come up with a plan to help. I rarely ask anything from my readers, but I am going to right now. Please read on and then (if you desire to) help this incredible family.

Manoel and Eliana are farmers who live way out in the country in my state here, Minas Gerais. They survive and raise a family on a mere R$400 per month (that's US$230 . . . per month!) They live in house without electricity and only one toilet. They are simple people and live a simple life, but they are anything but ordinary.

They already had 5 children: 2 girls (15 and 11 years old) along with 3 boys (7, 6, and 3 years old). But they wanted one more child to complete their family.

Imagine their surprise when Eliana, who has never taken a single medicine to prevent or encourage pregnancy, found out she was carrying quadruplets!!! Yes, that would be four babies. The chances of that occurring naturally are 1 in 729,000. And the chances of giving birth to four healthy babies when you already have 5 others at home has to be astronomical!

Miguel, Ezequiel, Natanael, and Ana Raquel (pictured above left to right) were born on October 12 in Belo Horizonte weighing between 1.530 and 1.820 kg (3.4 - 4.0 pounds). They were all born healthy and after a couple weeks in the hospital were released to go stay at a family member's home here in the city. Then on Friday, the 1 month old babies were given the green light to travel home to Piranga.

But before they left, Eric and I made a trip over to visit them on Friday night and talk to their parents about how we might be able to provide some support.

Natanael (far left) was not happy about his sister sitting on him! And she wasn't a fan of her brother screaming in her ear. Miguel and Ezequiel were quite content little fellas though.
I later confessed to Eric that holding these four precious little babes made my ovaries ache for more babies . . . but scared my uterus into hiding! ;)
(And on a side note, could I be cheesing any bigger here?!? hehe)

The second he had a little breathing room, Natanael calmed right down and even gave me a little grin before he dozed off to sleep in my hands. Ezequiel (on the right) and I bonded right away: I got to give the little guy a teeny tiny bottle of milk, since our arrival coincided with feeding time.

Eric snuck in a little cuddle time with my buddy, Ezequiel, too. We both had a hard time getting over how itty bitty all the babies were! (Pictures really cannot capture their tininess!)

After holding babies and getting lots of newborn cuddles, Eric and I sat down at a table with the proud parents, Manoel and Eliana, while some family members took over babysitting for a few minutes. Mostly we let them talk and tell us about their family. We listened as they spoke about how richly blessed they feel, but how scary it is to add four babies all at once. They told us about their home and how the local government has been telling them (and seven other families who live nearby) for years now that they are going to get electric lines run to their small community, but how it never happens. They spoke with excitement as they announced that, as of November 28, they are supposed to have electricity (after some family friends learned about their situation and wrote letters to the governor of Minas Gerais.) Manoel and Eliana told us about the outpouring of support they have received from the community in Belo Horizonte in the way of diapers, formula, and baby clothes.

A view into the room where all of the donations were being stored. A truck was going to haul all it to their home near Piranga over the weekend.

Afterwards we shared with them a little bit about ourselves and then how much their story had touched us. We explained that we wanted to share their story with some of our family and friends and try to raise some money to help. I told them I had no idea how much I would be able to raise, but promised I would do my best to try and assist them. They thanked us sincerely and said they really didn't require much money to live, but a little extra would sure help ease some of the burden. It was some point shortly thereafter that tears started falling all around the table.

Manoel and Eliana are two of the most sincere, humble people I have ever met. They are not seeking a book deal or a reality TV show. They haven't gone on talk shows parading around their family or crying about how hard they have it. They are loving parents who merely want to take their babies home, reunite their family (the other children having been staying with relatives back home so they can attend school), and go on living their life. They are the kind of people you can feel good about helping.

There has been a great outpouring of love and support for the family in the way of physical donations. They should be set on diapers and formula for quite a while. But they will no doubt incur more expenses in the coming months and years, and there are many things they would like to do to improve their home for their growing family.

Finally having electricity sounds fabulous and will certainly make day to day life more convenient. But they don't actually have any lights or appliances (refrigerator, washing machine, etc.) yet. Why would they if they've never had electricity? They will also have, for the first time, an electric bill, which is far from cheap here in Brasil. (Eric and I pay about 6 times more per kWh here than we did in Iowa!)

I am not a salesperson and I usually hate asking for money, even when it is for charity. But this is a case where a very small amount will go a very long way in helping a deserving family. They make R$400 per month (US$230). They support a family of 11 (plus Eliana's aging father who lives with them) on less than US$8 per day. A donation of $5 or $10, the amount I might spend on a given trip to Starbucks back home, means so much to them.

If you have a desire to help this loving family, I would request that you click on the Paypal DONATE button on the left at the top of this page. This will take you to Paypal's secure site where you can make a donation using your debit or credit card or your Paypal account if you have one. The money will collect in my Paypal account until December 21 when I will withdraw the money and deposit it into Manoel and Eliana's account at a local bank here in Brasil. (Eric and I will personally cover the service charge Paypal charges me so that the family will receive 100% of what you give.) If you wish to donate, but would prefer not to use Paypal, then please email me at ericandemily@hotmail.com and we can make other arrangements.

This is not something I've ever done here on my blog, and I don't plan to make it a recurring theme. But this family really touched my heart and this was the best way I could come up with to help them. Thank you for reading and, if you feel led to give, thank you for your help. I will update on the fund-raising progress and on the babies in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, please feel free to share this link with others. Lots of people making just very small donations would make for an incredible Christmas present for this family!


Gabriella said...

I've been reading your blog now for over a year perhaps but have never commented; their story touched my heart. What's $20.00 to me, nothing, I spend that in a half hour. But to them it is everything. Hope you are able to raise enough! Thanks!
Please let us know!!

The Pink Chick said...

You have such a sweet and giving heart! I hope you and your sweet family are doing well! Happy Thanksgiving!

Tanya Brown said...

Hi Emily and Eric ..
I have sent a donation to you through my paypal account. What a wonderful thing to do. I will also blog about this on my Brazil blog and my daughter's personal blog. I hope I can help you get this out there and get as much as we can for this family.
Take Care and Happy Holidays !

Rodrigo said...

I was happy to help!
Thank's for the initiative!

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