The life of a young girl who lived to defy the odds – touching many people along the way with her will to survive – has ended.
Fittingly known as Baby Miracle, she died on Sunday, more than 10 years after doctors told her parents she would not live for more than a day.
Her death was confirmed by her parents, Mikaele Nanai and Sefulu Nanai, from the villages of Saleimoa and Falelatai.
Despite her abnormalities, her father said she was their saving grace in the midst of challenges.
On 1 September 2007, Baby Miracle was born.
It started a miraculous journey not just for the Nanais but also for Papali’i Caroline Ah Chong, a woman with a heart of gold who led a global campaign to fight for her survival.
“When she was born we were told by the doctors that she would not even survive a day,” Mr. Nanai said.
“But after four days she was still breathing. I still remember when I walked in on the fourth day to say goodbye to her because we were waiting there for days for her to die.
“I bent over and told her that I was leaving and if whatever happens she has my heart and my daughter turned her head at me as I whispered in her ear. I will never forget that day.
“Now that my daughter has passed on, it feels like a great part of me is missing, the number of people in our family has lessened. A gift that was given by God has now been taken away by Him.
“We are just overwhelmed with great pain and sadness and we can never question the will of God in our lives. At the end of the day, He is God and does whatever that pleases Him. Our thoughts will never be his thoughts and we can never understand the reason He does the things that He has done.”
Still, Mr. Nanai recalls the miracle her daughter was.
When she was born, he said health workers basically waited for her to die.
“They just gave an IV and said that was feeding her. I snuck in with bottles of milk to feed her.
“I felt that my daughter was hungry when I walked in to see her and felt her cheek. So I hid the bottles of milk under my arms and took it in to feed her.
“I took two bottles of milk and both of them were finished. She was hungry and these were one of the challenges that we were facing.”
Miracle was her name and miracle was what she was, Mr. Nanai said.
After undergoing nine surgeries and battled how people looked at her, she came out to be a message of hope for him. Mr. Nanai shared the day when his daughter was born their faith was tested by so many situations.
“Through Miracle’s birth, it taught us endurance in the middle of chaos and how the society viewed us. It was hurtful, but I loved my daughter. I have learnt that through tough times, it teaches us patience and to wait on God in everything.
“There is no person that God has ever created for them to look like an animal. They called her names and later on accused of things that I have never done such as eating the pig of the Church Minister.
“This face is what Miracle grew up with and a lot of statements have said it’s a face of an animal when they saw her face and doesn’t have the spirit to see that it was the creation God.
“So whatever the descriptions of the life of my daughter in the past, if I take it all the way back, it always makes me weak because of the many challenges that we faced.”
Mr. Nanai could not hold back his tears as he described what he will be missing the most about Miracle.
“At five months, she was taken by Papali’i Carol and she was just given back to us two years ago. Carol was her other mother who raised her as her own and cared for her, people like Carol are those I will always be grateful for.
“Miracle was a funny child, she knew my scent and even though she could not speak, she had her ways of communicating with us. Every time she would get hungry she would cry or when there was something wrong she would cry.
“Every time I would whisper in her ear, she would turn her head to me and she knew who I was. I miss her so much and as I reminisce about her my heart just breaks because on the day she passed away she did not cry or at least let us know she was going to leave us.”
Baby Miracle’s final service is on Friday.