The first day of the penitential season of Lent is as good a time as any to think about those poor babies born with microcephaly, a condition linked to the mosquito that transmits the Zika virus. The World Health Organization has called the Zika virus and the birth defects it apparently causes an international health emergency.
These babies are being born into poor families in Brazil and other Latin and South American countries as well as the Caribbean. Families already living in poverty are now being challenged with having a baby with special needs. One mother was quoted as saying, "How can we do this, how can we support this child?" That remark has haunted me. Doctors are haunted by mothers who ask them if their babies will improve, if their small heads will grow larger.
I hope that Catholic Relief Services will begin a program to support these families. I intend to write them, but I'm sure they've already thought of it.
There are many people who would be willing to help these families and international organizations who try to set up programs for these children as they grow.
In this Year of Mercy, these children must be shown mercy, compassion and love and their families supported, so that their burden is lessened.