We apologize for the delay in posting this update but we have been busy in Maji Ya Chai this week and have not had internet access. We are very excited to share with you that after spending two weeks at Nkoaranga Lutheran Hospital, MedOutreach decided to put forth the funding to pay for two patients’ hospital bills at Nkoaranga Lutheran Hospital on July 22nd. Both of these patients are people that various members of our team had been working with over the two weeks we were at Nkoaranga, and had the opportunity to listen to their stories about how they came to be in the hospital through our wonderful translator and friend, Godlove. Please note that we were given permission by all parties to share stories and photos of the individuals.
John is forty-nine and has been in the hospital for the last eleven months. Previous to his time in the hospital, John did physical labour for a living. He is a bachelor and was privately employed at the time of his accident. One afternoon when he was taking his boss’ car to get washed, his car collided with a dala dala and was totalled. Based on the details from the accident, it sounds like John is lucky to be alive. He had to have a series of surgeries, one of which was an above-the-knee amputation of his leg. John suffers from retrograde amnesia and does not remember a lot of what happened before April but was filled in on a lot of information by his neighbours who came to visit. John was unable to pay his extensive medical bill and was forced to stay in the hospital because of that. When he is discharged from the hospital, John plans to have his own fruit and vegetable stand.
Mwindini is a fourteen year old boy from the paediatric floor of the hospital. He came from a remote village outside of Arusha, part of a family of six – mom, dad, and four kids. Mwindini’s father was a security guard but only a month after Mwindini was born, his father was shot and killed while on duty. Then, due to their inability to access health care where they live, his three older siblings all died of various illnesses when they were young, leaving Mwindini and his mother alone. Already, in his early childhood, he had experienced more tragedy than most people will face in a lifetime. Unfortunately, that is the reality for many children here.
When other health related issues arose, Mwindini’s mother was forced to leave their close knit community in search of work to help pay for medical bills. While they were living away from home, Mwindini was sent on an errand and while crossing the street he was struck by a piki piki (motorcycle). Mwindini and his mother traveled frantically from one hospital to the next searching for someone who could help repair his leg. Eventually they were admitted to Nkoaranga Lutheran Hospital. As we noted in his admission documents and on his x-ray, the impact from the collision had snapped his tibia and fibula and they were now protruding from his leg. The surgery to repair his leg took place in the beginning of April but because they were unable to pay the entirety of the unplanned hospital bill, they were required to stay in the hospital until it was fully paid.
A lot of hospitals here are much different than in Canada because the family is responsible for their loved one’s personal care like changing them, bathing, and providing them with food. Because Mwindini’s mother was expected to provide all of this care, she was unable to work to make money to pay for the hospital bill. As time went on, the bill kept increasing because they were still required to pay for accommodations while in hospital. When a family or individual is in this type of situation, it is nearly impossible for them to get out and they can rack up millions of shillings in debt.
Near the end of the two weeks at Nkoaranga, Mwindini’s mother approached one of our team mates asking for a contribution to help pay the hospital back. Most of the pledges listed were somewhere between 500-1500 shillings (30-90 cents), which is less than what most Canadians have in their couches. After talking it over with the team and learning more about the family’s past struggles and their current situation, we decided as a team that paying the remainder of the family’s bill would be a wonderful way to help a family in need. Mwindini and his mom were overjoyed to hear that they would finally be going home and there were lots of hugs and kisses to go around.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our donors for their contributions to our fundraising efforts. It is because of your generosity that we are able to provide relief for some people here. We would also like to thank Corunna United Church for the beautiful prayer shawl that they made to be a symbol of encouragement and blessings. We were instructed to leave the prayer shawl with a family or individual in need so we decided it was most appropriate to give it to Mwindini and his mother, who were touched that people in Canada had them in their prayers. We have nothing but thanks to the people back home who are consistently supporting our team. Stay tuned for more updates!