‘Baby in Manger’: A Sombre Thought on a Joyous Day
In the dark of a one-room shack, a new-born baby sleeps in the arms of a young mother. It could be a biblical scene. The glow from a kerosene lamp gives the mother a halo. Add an ox, a lamb and a manger, and this could be the story of Christmas, a painting of the Madonna and Child from the Middle Ages, or the living crib assembled by St Francis in the 13th century.
Sierra Leone should be a scandal, a scar on the conscience of a world which, seven years ago, promised to eradicate extreme poverty, cut child mortality by two thirds and improve maternal health by 2015. Halfway to that deadline, conditions for babies born this Christmas in the 10 toughest places for a child are still devastating. And Sierra Leone comes top on that list.
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