(Twinkle, twinkle little star
How I wonder what you are)
I melodiously whispered in the baby’s ears, hoping to calm his rhythmic and high-pitched wail of annoyance for being placed in the arms of a stranger. Sliding one hand under his head, and keeping the other hand under his bottom, I gently rocked him until his face was lit up by an innocent smile that illuminated the darkest corners of the hospital room like a sudden beam of sunlight. The sunshine seemed to flood my soul, as I felt a surge of happiness for brightening his life 一 if only for a few minutes 一 which turned out to be already strewn with trials and struggles he didn’t ask for.
This little angel wasn’t even a month old yet, but already fighting for wellness and survival.
Aviva wasn’t even a year old when she was abruptly snatched from the people who love her. Her hands were as delicate as the sunset on the snow-covered summit of a mountain. Her sweet eyes as tender as a bud, and her dazzling and radiant smile could soften the most hardened heart. She was the embodiment of innocence and vulnerability, yet the epitome of strength and resilience.
(Up above the world so high
Like a diamond in the sky)
I looked up at the little angel’s mother who was sitting on the hospital bed and staring at me, an approving smile plastered on her face. She painstakingly clutched the parcel I had given her, and my eyes misted over with tears. It was Aviva day! A day set aside to commemorate Aviva Lilia, who lost her life due to neonatal complications. A day dedicated to celebrating the Christmas season with neonates who struggle to survive early childhood medical difficulties. Christmas gifts carefully parceled for some babies, hospital bills effectively cleared for others; everything was set to make their Christmas memorable. The Aviva sports outing, traditionally held a day before the Aviva outreach program at hospitals, is aimed at promoting and encouraging regular physical exercise, as well as spreading awareness on neonatal mortality via interactive talks. This
year's hike was no different, barring the double dose of adrenaline and fun, as well as the unpredicted downpour (which I fondly termed Aviva tears of joy). My muscles still ached from the hike of the previous day, and my throat was still sore as a result of being drenched by the unexpected rain that welcomed us the moment we got to the top of the mountain. But I certainly couldn't care any less about it, as the blend of euphoria, awe and excitement I felt during the hike had overshadowed it all.
I felt grateful and privileged to have been part of such an impactful initiative, and certain that the Open Dreams family had succeeded in promoting "Nipping in the Bud" as per this year's Aviva day theme, by implementing measures to prevent neonatal complications through research and education. I vividly recalled how the process that led to this beautiful moment had shaped me, instilling and restoring compassion, love, and empathy into the deepest part of my soul. Inspired by the gleam of hope I could discern in her eyes, I was convinced that we had successfully restored this mother's hopes, as well as those of the 30+ other neonates and mothers we reached out to, assuring them that they were not alone in this tough but propitious battle.
(Twinkle, twinkle, little star
How I wonder what you are)
My gaze drifted back to the little angel in my arms, his face peaceful as he gently snored to the rhythm of my lullaby. Just as Aviva, who peacefully rests in heaven, but whose light, life, and love will forever be felt as her memory continues to live through the joy and hope brought to newborns and their mothers on Aviva Day
Visit this link for more about the Aviva Women in Science Program. 2022 marked the third edition of the Aviva Day under the theme, "A Nip in the Bud" with 9 institutions in 6 regions across Cameroon participating. The 2021 Theme was "A Dream Deferred"