The Nazareth Hospital of Kiambu lies at 25 km. from Nairobi, offering help to the local poor population working at the tea and coffee plantations. It has a capacity of 220 beds, most of which are occupied by HIV patients. Lately, AIDS has made many victims in this country as well.
The sisters belong to the Franciscan order of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. They are doing their utmost to keep the hospital running without financial support. Each year, they look forward to the arrival of the ECLPF team. It is enormously gratifying to be able to provide help, with the aid of our sponsors, to the little children.
Hidden away in a valley some 90 miles north of Nyeri lies the Consolata Hospital Mathari. The region has a lot of tea and coffee plantations; the local population is very poor with high unemployment rates and HIV incidence.
This hospital also has problems with its funding. Recently, a campaign was started to raise the local population’s awareness of the risks of AIDS. The Italian sister orders support the Mathari Hospital as much as they can.
In the reception area of the Consolata Hospital Mathari at Nyeri, where we stayed for a week to perform schisis operations on children, to our surprise we saw a boy sitting among the crowd of mothers with babies. At the intake of the operation, the boy was shown in by one of the mission sisters. She told the story of Yousouf, who was told by a mission sister in a refugee camp in the south of Sudan that our team would be visiting the Consolata Hospital. Due to his different language and speech defect Yousouf was hard to communicate with, but slowly his story came out. He had been operated for his cleft lip some ten years ago by an American team in the Sudan. It had not been possible to close the cleft palate as well, so he had been going around with an open palate all this time. Two days later, a person speaking his language was found. It turned out his parents as well as his brothers and sisters had been murdered, other relatives were gone too. For years, Yousouf had been on the run with a large group of refugees. He ended up in the camp in the south of Sudan with 175.000 others, where every day 50-100 people died of starvation or were murdered. Since he had nothing to lose, he decided to flee from the camp at night. Hitchhiking on carts and bikes and in trucks, he had finally arrived exhausted at the Consolata Hospital.
After a consultation we decided it was possible to admit Yousouf and operate his cleft palate. The problem of lacking someone to take the responsibility for him was resolved after much debate by one of the local anaesthesia assistants.
After a successful operation Yousouf was kept in hospital for a few more days to recover properly. This extraordinary boy was then released with mixed sad and happy feelings. If there ever was anyone who deserved his operation it had been Yousouf.
Dr Bart van de Ven (left) and dr Joel Defrancq (right) and the Nepalese organisators.
Dr Joel Defrancq operating in the Cuba hospital.
Outside of the Cuba hospital, Hanoi, Vietnam, 2004.
Patients room in the Cuba hospital, Hanoi, Vietnam, 2004.
Dorte Werner (middle), the organisational and emotional hart of our Vietnam projects, giving presents to the children.