I have known a few people who have given birth to triplets. When they found out that they were expecting three babies, instead of one, they were both excited and concerned…would they be able to care for three babies properly? Would they be good parents? In the end, all was well. Family and friends were always around to lend a helping hand, when needed. The children were truly a blessing.
But, what do you do when you give birth to triplets and they are looked upon as a curse? This is exactly what the Dagaaba people believe. Triplets are a curse. They are from evil spirits and, it is best for everyone if one or more of them is allowed to die.
One of the reasons mothers and their children come to live at the Lawra Orphan and Vulnerable Child Centre is because they have given birth to triplets. The children are not accepted in the community. The Traditional Religion leaders want the children dead. They are afraid that the spirits of the children would take over the spirits of the parents. And then, the parents would die. So, in fear for their children’s life, the women flee the village, taking their children with them.
Once the children reach an age of at least two years, they are more accepted by the village leaders. It is safe to move back home. But, there is still a stigma related to triplets. The first born is not seen as the first born but as the “Herald,” as the one who announces the birth of twins. The actual second born is given the first born rights.
Paul, Sarah and Rose came to live at our Centre in 2009, shortly after birth, along with their older sister, Papula, and their mother. As infants, their mother was very concerned for the lives of her children. They were not welcome in their village. People were afraid of what might happen. They children were very tiny. At the Centre, the children grew and were happy. They played. They laughed. They were enjoying life.
Several months after their second birthday, the family moved back to the village. They settled into a new chapter of life. Six weeks later, Paul was dead. He and his sisters became very ill and were taken to the hospital. That is where Paul died. Even though his mother grieved for him, his death was also a relief because now she had one less mouth to feed and she didn’t have to worry about what the Traditionalists would do.
During the time Paul and his sisters and mother lived at the Centre, Christ was presented to them. Seeds were planted. Hopefully, lives were touched. Many, many times I prayed for Paul and the others. Even now, when I hold a child, I pray for them. I believe some of these children will be the future teachers, pastors, teachers, nurses, etc. in this area. And, as they come to know Christ, they will live in such a way that others will know Him, too.
I pray that the Dagaaba people will come to the place where every life, every child would be looked upon as a miracle, a gift from God. And, that triplets born to a woman, would be perceived as a blessing. I pray that the parents would choose to praise God for these children’s lives and they would not fear them. They are God’s special blessing!