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Saturday, February 13, 2016

We just do things differently at the El Roi Baby Home.

I asked Brooke Sleeper* to write a short #hopewins medical story, and her story was so incredibly powerful that I asked if I could share it as today’s Valentine’s Day blog.  She said yes.  You will be blessed, I promise.

From Brooke:
“I occasionally get asked why our costs are more than other child sponsorship programs that operate on $30 per month.  It’s an understandable question from donors who want to make sure their contribution is being used responsibly and are used to the $30 per month format.  Here is one part of my answer:  while $30 per month wouldn’t even cover the basic food needs for any of our healthy “low-maintenance” children, it certainly does not come anywhere close to meeting the needs of about 15% of our children who arrive extremely sick, malnourished, HIV positive, TB positive, with cerebral palsy, or other serious health conditions. Below are just a few of the many examples I could give. There is no question in my mind that people who have given what they can on a monthly basis, PLUS people who give to our Emergency Medical fund have helped keep these children alive.  Please read their miracle stories.

Isaiah - $30 per month does not pay for the 8 high-calorie meals he needs to eat each day due to a chronic mal-absorption disease, including a midnight-wake-up-to-eat-meal. Nor does it cover his 7 daily medications, or the 3 costly trips to South Africa for the tests and specialists who diagnosed him, and said that he wouldn't live.

Princess - she arrived to us literally days away from death. She had acute pneumonia and was also suffering from severe malnutrition, TB, HIV, and cerebral palsy. Although her expenses have reduced as she’s grown healthier, $30 per month still does not come close to treating her recurrent pneumonia, occupational therapy, high-calorie diet, and plethora of medications.

River would certainly not be alive on $30 per month (or $30 per day). After being dumped in a riverbed by his mother after birth, crabs ate through his buttocks, and he arrived to us with a colostomy. A few months later he returned to the hospital to have the colostomy repaired, but the surgery went badly, and River was suddenly in a fight for his life. Miraculously God sustained his life through 2 bowel perforations, sepsis, Disseminated Intravascular Coagulopathy, 2 pleural effusions, 5 hospitalizations, and 9 operations.  The hospital bills and the cost of the home medical equipment he required during the first 8 months of his life were close to $50,000 USD.  Today he is a happy, healthy boy.

Shirley suffered severe burns after her mother dumped her in a pit latrine at birth and then poured firey coals down on top of her to insure her death.  As a result her nasal passages were too narrow to support eating and breathing at the same time. This led to difficulty gaining weight, but even more seriously, she suffered from chronic sinus infections that led to life-threatening chest infections and sepsis. Finally, her local medical team told us that her only hope of survival would be to take her internationally to a specialist. A few months later she boarded a plane to the United States were multiple surgeries were done to repair her collapsed nasal passages and to try to regain use of her burned fingers. She is currently back in the United States undergoing her second round of operations to continue expanding her nasal passages and to amputate one of her fingers. In addition to her trips internationally, hundreds of dollars has been invested over the past year on occupational therapy.

Megan - Before arriving to us, Megan’s mother could only afford to feed her a thin cornstarch porridge, and she arrived extremely malnourished. Her mother suffered with Tuberculosis so we were also worried about Megan’s TB status.  For months after her arrival she still had no appetite, would often vomit blood, and required a home feeding tube for 3 months. Once the feeding tube was withdrawn, we could only convince her to eat the sweet, but expensive commercial baby food from the grocery store. So what did we do? We bought her that expensive baby food! And gradually has made great progress. In December 2015, after 12 months of countless diet changes and constant effort, she finally made it into a healthy weight range! However, she still requires a special diet, monthly doctor visits, and weekly occupational therapy.

Grace suffers from hydrocephalus, cerebral palsy, blindness, and requires a specialized walker and one-on-one care every day. In addition to her periodic CT scans, neurology appointments, ophthalmology appointments, and occupational therapy appointments, she underwent a costly, but life-saving emergency surgery last year to place a shunt in her brain. Despite her challenges, she started Pre-kindergarten this year.  Grace is very bright, loved by all and is an “almost” walking miracle.
Dr. Ann Williams examining Grace weeks before she arrived at El Roi.

Robert suffered from severe pneumonia as an infant. He required CPR resuscitation and a ventilator to bring him back to life during his hospital stay. He incurred thousands of US dollars in ICU bills during his recovery. Today he is walking, laughing and encouraging his twin sister to get up and walk too.”

Please know that are not in any way trying to say that an organization with a $30 per month cost is wrong, we are saying that what we do is different, and it costs more. We are so thankful for our donors who appreciate the value of EVERY baby’s life, and allow us to invest in each baby according to their needs.  Thank you!!

We still need more monthly donors to help us meet our growing monthly goals.  Please consider becoming a Heart for Africa ANGEL TODAY.  Happy Valentine’s Day from our family to yours.  You are loved in Swaziland!

Live from Swaziland … #hopewins in Swaziland.  


* Brooke is our volunteer Nurse Practitioner who has lived and served in Swaziland for three years with her husband Ben and their son Koa.  Their whole family is a huge gift to everyone at Project Canaan.

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