September has been a month of answered prayers. UNICEF chose to give 3,000 mosquito nets to BMS World Mission’s Guinebor II Hospital, a visiting team performed 16 cleft palate repairs in one week and a donation of over £1,000 from three separate groups came to the hospital. The month brought with it showers of blessing in this hot season as patients were treated, children were given new lives, and much needed funds were given.
The number of malaria cases in Chad rose from 1,228 to 14,021 in the first week of August this year and the need for mosquito nets and treatment is high. UNICEF chose Guinebor II because the hospital is seen as a good source of care for the needy. The doctors educate their patients in the importance and proper use of the nets to reduce malaria cases. “It was a complete surprise,” said Malc White, a BMS mission worker and the finance administrator and project manager for the hospital. “We asked them what they were doing there and when they explained everyone grabbed a pack to see inside.” Thanks to UNICEF’s donation, combined with 50 nets provided by BMS, the hospital staff have been able to give patients the necessary protection against the disease.
Also in September, Guinebor hospital hosted a team of surgeons to work on a cleft lip project. In Chad, children with cleft lips are shunned by their community and even their parents. “We weren’t really sure what we were getting into until we got there,” says Dr. Tim Bartholomew. His team of surgeons, including an anaesthetist, from America and the UK, travelled to Guinebor to perform surgeries and train BMS doctors. They were not prepared for the limitations of the local anaesthesia and were unable to perform the number of surgeries they initially wanted to. “I felt close to this project because my own daughter was left on a step because she had a cleft lip,” he says.
People travelled over three hundred miles to Guinebor II for a chance at a normal life and sadly many of them were turned away because of the limited time. Thankfully there were able to be treated. One of these was a ten year-old boy who waited two weeks with his father. When he was only two days old, the little boy’s mother divorced his father and remarried because of his lip. “His story hit me pretty hard,” says Dr. Bartholomew. “I just had to squeeze him in.”The team decided to operate on the boy after hours and sent him on his way with a new lip and a brighter outlook on life.
Cleft lip surgeries and other medical procedures cost money in Chad. In this instance, the cleft work was free but many of the sick living around N’Djamena cannot pay for medical treatment. The Benevolence Fund was created to provide assistance for people like these. With the influx of malaria cases, the fund has been running low. Unexpectedly, help arrived. “We didn’t know that was coming either,” says Malc. “The Americans who came over to do the cleft lip campaign brought it with them so it was a complete surprise.” In total, the donation came to 803,000 Communaut Financiaire Africaine, CFA, or over £1,000.
“You may think these two separate incidents were simply happy coincidences, but we believe they were an answer to prayer,” says Malc. As malaria season and the heat continue, prayers are being answered, people are being healed, and hope restored.