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Saturday, March 2, 2019

Nokuphiwa (No-koo-pee-wah)

Nokuphiwa and her BFF Mona Lisa - sweetest photo of all time?
I have never met someone like Nokuphiwa. She is the little burned girl I have mentioned in a few blogs in the past couple of months and I would like to officially introduce you to her today.  She was burned in a house fire when she was only 5-days-old and has suffered with no treatment until today, and she is now 8-years-old. (If you want to read more about Nokuphiwa’s burn story go to

Nokuphiwa left for Boston this past week where she will receive reconstructive surgery at Shriners Hospital in Boston, in partnership with our friends at the Global Medical Relief Fund.  She was accompanied by Nokwanda (from hospitality department at Project Canaan) and Barry Hickman (our friend and husband of Canadian HFA Board member, Carol Hickman) who flew all the way to eSwatini from British Columbia, Canada to escort the two gals to the US as neither had been on an airplane before.

When I first heard about Nokuphiwa I knew that we had to do something to help, but was very uncertain about how to do it without disrupting (or frankly, scaring) our own children who have already been through so much.  Together with our amazing staff, we worked on a plan (read past blog above) and brought her to live with us back in early December.

Within a single day she was the pied piper of Project Canaan with almost all the children loving her immediately (some of the older boys took a bit longer to see past the scars to her heart), and soon loved by all.  Allen, one of our Sr. Supervisors said, “She is like a Princess who finally found her people”.  And what a true statement that is.

Nokuphiwa is pure joy.  She cares for the underdog and scolds a bully.  She dances and sings like no one is watching, but everyone is!  Honestly, it is as if she doesn’t know she was burned. She is perfect, and beautiful and confident and made in His image, and she knows it. She is not ashamed of how she looks and is quick to take off her hat for photos so you can see her full smile (with no lips). 

Nokuphiwa is missing a piece of her skull that should be protecting a main artery in her head. You can see her heart beat through the skin on her skull. The Doctors in Boston have also identified a “leak” up above her where her eyebrow should be. While Nokuphiwa RARELY cries, when she does, that spot “leaks”. They did a CT scan on Friday to assess her skull issues, and also they are looking to see if the leak is from a mis-directed tear duct?  The whole in her skull and the leak are the two priorities for now. Then further plans will be made.

I have been very careful to not post photos of her face for her privacy sake, but I am going to do so today so that you, the reader, can see where she is starting her surgical journey and you will be able to follow along and pray with us for her. am also posting a video that was sent to me yesterday from Nokwanda. It brought me to tears (again).  But I only cry tears of joy for this little girl because SHE IS JOY.

The first thing I want to show you is Nokuphiwa singing a song yesterday.  Nokwanda sent it to me last night and it’s Nokuphiwa (who didn’t want to learn English, but seems to be learning it) singing “God is so good, God is so good, God is so good, He’s so good to me”.  I am posting this so that you can see her joy, her authenticity and her personality. I don’t think I would be singing “God is so good” as an 8-year-old if I had been living with a burned head for all of my life. Would you?


Now … you HAVE to read this next part!

The girls are being hosted by our friends Eileen, Joe and Eric Habelow.  When I asked the Habelow’s for the “BIG FAVOR” of hosting two strangers for 3-months while one of the strangers (and a child) underwent life-changing/life-threatening surgery, they prayed about it, talked to their Pastor to get support from their church and then said yes.  THREE weeks before the girls were to arrive at their house, their pipes burst while they were out of town at the Superbowl and it “rained” in their house for days before they got back (to Boston in the dead of winter). They got home to 3.5 feet of water on the top floor and bottom floor of their house and the house looked like a rainforest with water pouring out of ceiling lights, walls and ceilings.  EVERYTHING that they owned was destroyed by water, EXCEPT for all their photos albums and sentimental items. The only wall in the house that was not wet was the one that housed the electrical box, which saved them all from electrocution when they walked through the house testing lights switches. 

In the past three weeks they found a new home to rent, bought furniture, set up house and met Nokuphiwa, Nokwanda and Barry at the airport with more joy and love that can be imagined.  Tear are pouring down my face as I type that. We have done video calls from their house and their car and I just can’t stop crying tears of joy over all that I am seeing happen.  And she hasn’t even started surgery yet! 

Serving God is not easy, but the blessings that come with it are “exceedingly and abundantly more than we can ask for or imagine”.  Just ask Eileen and Joe! 

Special send off service last Sunday at church

Praying for the girls before they left

She insisted that I take a photo of her with the RCMP moose that Uncle Barry got her

FAREWELL!!  See you in May!
I LOVE the way she laughs so hard
Their first time seeing snow!

What are you being asked to do today? Who are you supposed to help? Who are you supposed to be a blessing to?  Please don’t hesitate – just do it.

Thank you Barry Hickman for coming and being the escort for both Nokuphiwa and Nokwanda. Thank you Nokwanda for stepping up to be the guardian for this 8-year-old girl from “deep Swaziland” for the next 3- months of grueling surgery.  Thank you Eileen, Joe and Eric for hosting the girls for the next 3-months, for taking them to Doctors appointments, CT scans and Chinese food. 

Live from eSwatini … I LOVE my life.


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