The Gift of Baby Clothes . . .

Where do you go when you are expecting a baby and you need to buy baby clothes? Walmart? Target? Goodwill? Garage Sales? Amazon? Ebay? Cragslist?

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In America there is an abundance of merchandise and countless places where you can go shopping to find exactly what you are looking for. New or used, you can buy it or put it on a registry for your baby shower. So many colors and styles to choose from, and if you find an outfit that you particularly love you can even purchase it in multiple sizes so you can continue to enjoy its cuteness even as your baby quickly grows out of one size and into another.

But that isn’t the case here in our little corner of Africa. Where we live there are 2 days a week where merchants will come bringing a new supply of goods. Clothes are brought in as huge bundles of mixed items in random sizes. Early in the morning the bundles are opened up and the contents are spilled out in large pile on the ground. There, at the side of the road, crowds of people gather and sift through these piles. They search specifically for clothing that is close enough to the size they need, and they consider it a real bonus if the item that fits them also happens to be a color or style that they like.

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In order to find something very specific in the way of clothes a person would need to go to the market extra early to be one of the first people in line. If you can tell the merchant exactly what you’re looking for BEFORE they open the bundle you have a better chance of laying claim to the item if there happens to be one of what you’re looking for in the pile. But even so, you need to look quickly and grab it fast before someone else snatches it up. You can also expect to pay a lot more for the item if it is an article of clothing that is in high demand.

This is the case with certain baby clothes!

There are so many babies born in this area and certain types of baby clothes are very rare and hard to find; among these are infant pajamas, onsies, bunnysuits, and blanket sleepers.

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For mothers in the US these particular clothing items are considered the “bare basics”, the key essentials to stock up in the nursery or to pack in the hospital bag in preparation to receive the new baby. But here in this part of Africa these items are considered luxuries – they are like gold to an expectant mother!

Just a few days ago a lady in our community had a baby (a little girl!), so we went to pay her a visit. Before going, I pulled out a suitcase from our storage unit where we keep a supply of baby clothes just especially for distribution in the community. This time, Keturah wanted to be the one to pick out the different articles of clothing that we could take as a gift for the new baby.

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When we presented the gift of clothing to the mother she was SO thankful – almost to the point of tears! She told us about the her struggle with trying to find clothes for her baby. She shared about how both she and her mom had been searching all over in different market places trying to find these basic clothing items. They had gone extra early to the market to try and be the first in-line, and had done this week after week, but in spite of all their efforts they were only able to find ONE onsie and NOTHING in the way of pajamas or one-piece outfits. Needless to say, our gift was very well received and a real answer to prayer for this family.

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Earlier this year another lady in the community also had a baby. She is actually our neighbor and a close friend of mine. In her case the problem wasn’t so much being able to find the items but was more a problem of not having the money to purchase them. They are a very low income family with several kids that they are trying to put through school. Through farming and hiring out to do various odd jobs they still just barely make it from month to month and if someone in the family gets sick (which happens frequently) it puts them in a very tight spot financially. So when their baby was born they were really struggling to find the money to put towards baby clothes and it turned out to be a real blessing to gift them with a few outfits for their baby.

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Since we just recently had a baby of our own, I can certainly relate to the struggle of trying to get the right supplies to outfit a baby. Many of the clothes that our little Timothy is wearing now are ones that my sister sent us in a care package, or clothes that we had leftover from when Caleb was little.

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But even apart from baby clothes, just trying to get decent maternity dresses is a real challenge here! I was fortunate that Sammy was in the US when I found out I was pregnant, so he was able to bring back some maternity clothes for me from the US.

Now that we have had the baby and I am no longer using the maternity clothes, I am passing them along to our neighbor lady who is pregnant and due to have her baby in January. This lady is very new to our community and even new to Cameroon. She is from Nigeria and just moved here earlier this year. She got married to a friend of ours and moved here shortly after the wedding. She got pregnant after only a couple months and has been having a rather hard time adjusting to married life and now pregnancy in addition to adjusting to a new place and even a new country. What’s more, a tragedy in the family has also left them as the guardians of a small boy who now looks to them as his new mother and father. It is certainly a lot for a new bride to go through and the simple gift of maternity clothes has been a real blessing to her – a luxury that she would not otherwise have been able to afford.

It is a small thing, but being able to bring certain clothing items from the US and handing them out to needy families in our community has really created an open door for me to be able to connect with other women in the community and a way in which we can show God’s love to the people around us. It is also a way to teach our children about the gift of giving, and to encourage them to be generous in reaching out to help others in need.

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Matthew 25:40 — “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

2 thoughts on “The Gift of Baby Clothes . . .”

  1. How very precious and touching to read this blog! And to see the the pictures, esp. of how clothing is sold in the market. You have found a true ministry need. A physical need and need of the heart for many mothers. Also a ministry that individuals/women could support and help with from the U.S.

    Like

  2. I had to smile when I read your blog… reading my life. I too always bring back baby clothes to give to those who need them most. I do have a few daily markets to sort through here and my kids grew up on second hand clothes from them. It’s going to be interesting as Rwanda phases out secondhand clothes coming into the country…
    Continued blessings on you and your family.

    Like

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