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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Barbara Receives life

Babies born with deformities in West Africa start life as victims of the West African superstition that abnormalities are signs of a curse. When Barbara was born with a cleft lip that extended up into her nasal cavity, her father pronounced that she was a “demon child.” He ordered his wife to take the tiny infant into the bush and leave her for dead. Barbara’s brave mother, Aminata, refused to abandon her child. As a result, she was thrown out of her house and moved in with her sister. Without a way to support her family, Aminata was forced to separate her four other children and send them to the homes of other relatives. By the time she was eight months old, Barbara’s weight was drastically low because her cleft lip prevented her from getting the nutrition she so desperately needed. In fact she weighed less than 4 kilograms (8.4 pounds), less than half of what a thriving baby her age should weigh. To make matters worse, she had contracted tuberculosis and was placed on a TB program at a local hospital. Of course, the lack of financial support since the abandonment by the baby’s father was another serious obstacle. Broken and devastated, Aminata had reached her darkest, lowest point. Then God stepped in and brought a ray of light. One day Aminata met a woman who said that Barbara was not a “demon child.” She also said that Mercy Ships would arrive in Sierra Leone in just a few weeks. Volunteer surgeons onboard the Africa Mercy could fix the baby’s lip – for free! Desperately clinging to this fragment of hope, Aminata took Barbara to a Mercy Ships medical screening.
Aminata was delighted when Barbara was accepted for cleft surgery onboard the Africa Mercy. However, because the baby was below the acceptable weight for surgery, she was placed on the Infant Feeding Program.
This program provided proper nutrition for the infant and instructed Aminata in a better feeding method. Barbara’s weight gain was monitored each week. The baby girl gained weight the first week she was on the program, but lost weight during the second week. She developed a fever, and she struggled to breathe or keep her formula down. The nurses gave her nasal drops to open her nasal passages, allowing her to breathe more easily. The third week she regained some, but not all, of the lost weight. It was beginning to look like Barbara was not going to be able to have her surgery. The doctors suspected she might have a cardiac problem, too, which would interfere with plans for cleft surgery. Those working with the program began praying regularly for Barbara, and slowly she began to gain the required weight. At the end of three months, despite all her problems, Barbara was cleared for surgery.

The volunteer surgeons repaired the baby’s cleft lip and palate, as well as the centerline of her nose. Because of her delicate condition, they returned her to intensive care where nurses guarded her recovery. Clinical Dietitian Jessica King, who supervised Barbara’s case for the Infant Feeding Program, said, “Barbara is a miracle baby. She had a rough time in the ICU, but she made it. She’ll bring her mom a lot of joy.”

Aminata’s love and sacrificial care for Barbara has been rewarded. Her tiny daughter may be fragile, but she has a strong will to survive. She will bless her family with a future of beautiful smiles. “I’m feeling fine now,” said Aminata, as a tear of joy ran down her cheek. “I’m thanking God for what He has done for me.”

Written by our Marketing Department
Story by Elaine B. Winn / Edited by Nancy Predaina / Photos by Tom Bradley, David Peterson and Liz Cantu

Sunday, August 14, 2011

School End of Year Celebration

This last week saw Nathanael starting school again with him now being in pre-school 2 which means an earlier start. He is now having to get used to getting up early to start school at 8:00, early mornings are NOT to his liking.
Below, are some pictures of the end of school celebration when they officially graduated to their next class. Each child is presented with a certificate which includes a character trait and bible verse.
(Nathanael's class waiting in line for their certificates)
(Nathanael receiving his certificate)
(Nathanael "allegedly" reading his certificate)
Nathanael's character trait was:
Nathanael's smile and cheerful spirit are a pleasure to be around. He brings joy to others with his quiet and listening spirit.
"a cheerful heart brings a smile to your face" proverbs 15:13a (the message)
You can keep up with Nathanael's pre-school life by checking out their blog at: http://www.afmpreschool.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

A Pretty "Tire"ing Job

“NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER OF INVENTION,” so the old adage goes. Nowhere is it more apparent than in the physiotherapy department onboard the Africa Mercy. When patients’ legs are put in casts, they can’t wear shoes – but they can’t go barefoot, either. The Rehabilitation Team has found a suitable, inexpensive, and easily available way to give each patient the foot protection needed during their recovery. The answer is . . . tire shoes.

Anama Latta, a day-worker in physiotherapy, is responsible for producing shoes from tires in various sizes to accommodate patients. He gathers old tires from motorbikes and begins by removing the wire inside with a knife. Then he measures for sizes – 10” for large, 6” for medium, and 4” for small. Using a box cutter, he cuts incisions to mark where he will use the scissors to cut through. Next, he cuts three holes on each side. Then proper lengths of polypropalene ribbon are used to tie the shoes on.
Anama says the tire shoes are stronger than other footgear they might use, and they provide more protection on the sides of the foot. “When I was a child in Togo, I used to wear shoes like these to go to my Daddy’s farm,” said Anama. “They protect better than flip-flops, and the cast doesn’t get wet.”
Tire shoes last longer than ordinary shoes, and patients can walk easily in them. Anama says he enjoys making the tire shoes. “This is the way I can help them (the patients and the Rehabilitation Team), and I’m happy to make them.”