A Story of Faith and Needy Children in Rural Malawi
In December of 2020, a single mother named Veronica brought her 6-month-old baby girl, Lontiya, to the Lutheran Mobile Clinic at Msambo (figure 1). This child had severe spinal curvature and couldn’t be held in a sitting position without crying in pain. Mom had learned to hold her lying on one side on her lap so she wouldn’t cry. She couldn’t hold her head straight at all. She appeared to have cerebral palsy, most likely from birth trauma. Our clinician referred her to Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) in Lilongwe for follow up and she was to get physical therapy at MAP (Malawi against physical disabilities). However, we found out later that MAP had closed for Covid reasons. Veronica returned in April and told us that MAP had reopened and she had an appointment the next week but she had no money for the transport to the hospital. We provided the funds, and Lontiya had weekly visits for just a few weeks, when MAP closed again. We knew continued physical therapy was needed, though Veronica was faithfully doing exercises with Lontiya at home. Veronica brought her to under-fives clinic and we saw how she loved and advocated for her daughter. She was always smiling and grateful for our help. She met with Pastor Kalima, and started attending Mtima Woyera Lutheran Church at Msambo, eventually becoming a member and had Lontiya baptized.
Meanwhile we were starting to see more children with physical disabilities. Our maintenance man and Lutheran church elder, Mr. Anderson Mwale, came to clinic in March 2021 with his 2 1/2-year-old daughter Harriet, who was not walking, standing or sitting properly. She had just been discharged from the hospital. She was weak on her right side and had seizures since having severe malaria in the previous month. We referred her for PT to a private clinic which I had recently learned about called Children of Blessings. Her mom, Annah, would need to take her there by minibus three times a week, and learn how to do her PT exercises at home. I was very impressed with the therapies provided there. Lontiya and her mom did the same starting in June. Later, there was also a 2-year-old boy named Atusaye who was very tiny, with microcephaly, who’s mom Eliza came to us for help. Her husband had left her and the villagers shunned her because she had had this baby. Atusaye had received nutrition support at KCH, and mom was told he needed physical therapy. They had room for these three children for therapy three times a week, and also monitored Harriet’s epilepsy medications. It was free except for the transport to get there by minibus, which was not affordable for them. CAMMC was approached about funds to provide the transportation which is about $7.00 a week per child. Some special donors have stepped up to help with this expense.
These three mothers would come to clinic every week for their transport money, check in about their children’s progress, and meet with Pastor Kalima for Bible study. In August we met another adorable little 1 year old girl named Sharva, who wasn’t sitting or standing. Her parents also could not afford transport for the therapy she needed. Her mom, Ethiana, asked for our help and she was referred to Children of Blessings. The other moms were supportive of her and they rode together three days a week. Progress in the children’s strength and mobility continued and the mothers were doing the exercises for their children at home. Pastor Kalima continued his weekly Bible studies with the group. Sadly, Atusaye was brought to clinic in September with severe pneumonia. As we treated him and prepared to drive him to KCH, Pastor Kalima asked if mom wanted him baptized and she agreed. The next week we heard he had died at the hospital, but mom knew he was at peace with Jesus.
Two new children came to us in September- Isabel, a one-year-old twin with weak muscle tone, and Obvious, a 10-month-old boy with CP and malnutrition. They too were referred for PT, provided with transportation, and received Bible lessons from the Pastor. When Pastor Kalima took a call to another congregation in November, we were wondering who would continue the Bible studies. In February of 2022, Pastor Msiska from St. Peter’s congregation in Lilongwe agreed to be vacancy Pastor. He came out to Msambo clinic with us on Tuesdays, and continued the Bible studies with the women. He spoke about baptism and Lutheran doctrines. Obvious’ mom asked if he could be baptized the following week. However, we were saddened to learn he had a severe seizure a few days later and died at home. Pastor Msiska spoke with the other moms about God’s love and mercy the next week. Isabel’s mom asked if she could be baptized and he asked me to come and witness it, along with the mothers. A plastic pitcher was filled with water from our borehole, Pastor spoke the Word and Isabel became a child of God. Then suddenly Ethiana stood up and asked Pastor to baptize Sharva as well, and it was done. These faith-filled moms knew their daughters belonged to Jesus, and the spirit would work faith in their hearts. It was a joyous moment!
In late March, another mom brought her 1 ½ year old daughter, Tamara, to clinic with CP, also requesting help to get therapy. Children of Blessings accepted her and the LMC now supports five disabled children in getting a better start in life. A baby at our Thunga clinic named Enock was born with severe cleft lip and palate (figure 2). His mom had walked a long way to clinic when he was 6 weeks old to seek help. We contacted Operation Smile in Lilongwe, who assisted his mom with feeding and monitored him until he had the corrective surgery at 6 months of age. It was wonderful to see him come to under-fives clinic all healed after surgery! (figure 3)
We know the medical mission’s work in fighting disease and malnutrition in children helps to prolong their lives and gives them and their parents a chance to hear the Gospel and be saved. But this work includes seeking out help and making referrals for those in poor remote rural villages who would otherwise not be assisted. It is such a privilege to be a part of this mission. We are so very thankful for all who give to the Central Africa Medical Mission to make it possible, and to our Malawian coworkers who show the love of Jesus in their work every day.
Your sister in Christ,
Or Donate to CAMM online @ www.camm.us/donate-to-camm
Figure 1 - Veronica & Lontiya Figure 2 - Enock before surgery Figure 3 - Enock after surgery