Cape Girardeau mission helps save baby left for dead - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Cape Girardeau mission helps save baby left for dead

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) -

A newborn baby was thrown into a pit by her mother, set on fire and left for dead.

That was the first hours of life for the child known as Baby Shirley, born in Swaziland, Africa.

Against all odds she survived and found her way to a mission based in Cape Girardeau, and a couple who brought her to the states for life saving surgery.

That's only part of this baby's incredible story.

For Raelenna and Jeremy Ferguson and their family, this moment was nothing short of a miracle. The sweetest ending to one of the family's regular trips to a mission in Africa.

"It was just surreal," Raelenna Ferguson said. "It truly is just a miracle they said yes."

Yes across the board to save Baby Shirley by bringing her to the United States. She survived two trials of death her own mother put her through in Africa. She was first tossed into a latrine, then burned and left for dead.

"There's extreme poverty and a high HIV rate," Raelenna Ferguson said. "We can't explain why she did it."

Swaziland police took the woman into custody and the baby to the hospital, and then to prison where even though the mom attempted to kill her, she still had to care for her.

"That's just how it is in that country," Raelenna Ferguson said.

That's when Heart for Africa stepped in, a mission with a base in Cape Girardeau. They have a home for babies where the infant would be cared for for life, but without surgery they knew Shirley would die.

"For her to eat and breathe at the same time, it's almost impossible," she said.

Needed procedures weren't available in Africa.

That's when Ferguson said the miracles started to happen.

With one email, an organization called Global Medical Relief Fund agreed to provide free life saving surgery and care for little Shirley, but she had to make it to the United States. Another near impossibility.

"Because the country of Swaziland does not allow international adoptions," Jeremy Ferguson explained.

And rarely grants passports for babies to leave the country.

"I don't know how unprecedented it is, but from what we've talked about with people in the country, this just doesn't happen," he said.

However, Heart for Africa applied for a passport for Shirley anyway, and for reasons the Fergusons can only attribute to a higher power, the request was granted within the time the Cape Girardeau family would return to the U.S.

"It truly is just a miracle that they said yes and she survived from it," Raelenna Ferguson said.

So, the Fergusons and their children got ready for the 16-hour plane ride back to the states and into the arms of the representatives from Global Medical Relief Fund for Surgery in New York.

"She is special and she's already touched so many lives," Raelenna Ferguson said.

After four months in New York for care, Baby Shirley will return to the Heart for Africa home where she'll grow up.

Since adoptions aren't allowed, the mission's goal is to give kids there a better education and future.

The Fergusons can't wait to go back to Swaziland and see her.

Shirley will also receive free care and any further surgery needed until she's 21.

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