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For the past 4 months, my husband, Daniel and I have gotten to know little Austin’s family. At that point in time, we were part of a social media project to raise awareness about the refugees living in Malaysia. We had heard of little Austin, a baby who was fighting to live, and the family gave us their consent to share his story.
When I first met Austin and his mother, Ruth, he was 6 months old. Upon meeting Austin, I was told Austin suffers biliary atresia, a rare liver condition. And his only hope for survival is a liver transplant.
I tried to comprehend the reality that this 6-month old baby had only 6 months or less to live. In my heart, I felt strongly there was much more that could be done to help this family.
Austin’s Parents Are Asylum Seekers From Myanmar
However, his parents are registered asylum seekers who had fled from danger from their homeland in Myanmar. They simply aren’t able to afford the staggering cost needed to pay for the surgery which could prolong his life.
This little baby is in constant pain and discomfort, and can’t stop crying. His abdomen was so badly distended, it felt like a huge balloon when I touched it. One can only imagine the pain this poor child is enduring. Austin is frequently admitted into the hospital for medical complications.
Ruth has been a woman of fortitude. Despite sleepless nights and regular hospital visits, she has remained resilient in caring for Austin. Her faith in God has not wavered.
Daniel and I were moved to extend help and assistance to the family in various small ways. For the past few months, we’ve been providing milk and diaper supplies for Austin, as well as food supplies such as rice and cooking oil to help alleviate the financial burden the family faces because of Austin’s medical fees. This is the little we can do for this baby and his family.
“If God gives, God can take away.”
Conversations with the family are thought-provoking. Being visually impaired, I hadn’t noticed that the words, “God is good all the time” were written on the wall of their small, dilapidated home. One of Austin’s family members said to me, “If God gives, God can take away. Austin does not belong to us, he belongs to God.”
Despite the hardships they are facing, the family remains cheerful. They express gratitude and thanks each time Daniel and I visit to pass them new supplies. Ruth sends me updates on how Austin is doing, and always thanks me profusely for our help, little as it may be.
Fundraising efforts are being made by an overseas volunteer together with a Malaysian NGO – but progress has been slow. And as Austin’s health condition worsens each passing day, we’re not sure how long he will hold out for.
6 months old… with 6 months to live… Austin’s story must be told.
If you would like to contribute to Austin’s plight, you can choose to donate to him at the Gofundme fundraising project for Austin, link here.
Update on baby Austin – August 24th 2019
Today, we received great news from the family. When Daniel and I visited them to drop off monthly baby and food supplies to them, they told us that UNHCR is processing their case.
They have been accepted for resettlement in Sweden!
This means that Austin will have a chance to get the medical treatment he needs under Sweden’s healthcare system. We’re praying hard that the resettlement process will be swift and smooth.
For similar stories about the Myanmar refugees surviving in Malaysia, read A Tale of Hardship and Hope: The True Story of a Chin Refugee and The Plight of the Chins: Giving a Voice to the Voiceless.