Joan Hamblin is on a mission. She wants to make sure that young mothers in Guatemala have everything they need to take care of their babies.
Joan and her husband Jake served a humanitarian mission for their church in Guatemala for 18 months in 2002-03, helping some of the poorest people in the Americas.
"Had we not had our family here, I think we might have stayed," she said.
One shocking fact stayed with her even upon her return.
"We learned while we were there that newborns often leave hospitals with nothing except newspaper wrapped around their little bodies," she said in an e-mail.
Hamblin joined an organization called Pan-en-la-Boca that was founded by her friend and fellow Danville resident Evelyn Candland, who also served a mission in Guatemala.
"With Evelyn and others, I have returned twice to visit orphanages and meet with local doctors who help the poor," said Hamblin. "One doctor, Dr. Ernesto Velasquez, has continued to stay in touch with me, and when possible, we have tried to help him help the vulnerable young women and the infants and small children there."
When Velasquez recently asked if they could help with "newborn kits" for teen mothers, she thought, "We can do this!"
"I began soliciting help to buy the diapers and the diaper pins, buy the flannel and sew the receiving blankets, buy large bars of Ivory soap, the newborn gowns, and booties," she recalled. "Dr. Velasquez estimates his needs at 60 kits a month."
However, Hamblin has found herself woefully short in providing the 60 kits.
"Friends have sewn baby blankets for me, some have donated gowns and contributed some money to buy other items, but each kit costs about $25," she said.
She broke down her costs:
Fabric for the blankets: $6
Diapers and pins: $4, with four per kit
Ziplock bags: about 30 cents each
So Hamblin is reaching out to the community for help.
"Any donation would be so much appreciated," she said. "We have a way to transport them to Guatemala so shipping charges and all labor to assemble them would be volunteered."
When her sister's friend June brought some of the kits to Guatemala, she reported back.
"Several of the women hugged me; they were obviously very grateful," she said. "Many of the mothers offered to let me hold their babies. As we made our rounds through the maternity ward, we saw mothers we had just visited dressing their infants in the clothing we had just given them.
"Our little contribution was a drop in the bucket; we could have done this over again every day of the week and still not meet the need that exists there."
On that visit one of the kits went to the father of a baby boy whose mother had died in childbirth the previous Saturday.
Reach Hamblin at 837-7931 or firstname.lastname@example.org.