My friend Juli and her team run The Living Room, a community of compassion in Kipkaren, Kenya that offers community-based care and a hospice facility to people from villages near and far. One example of the ‘far’ came in her email today. It was so good, I had to repost it, especially since the critique of compassion fatigue has been on my mind the past couple of days.
Because really, who cannot find some compassion for this young boy?
A young mother arrived at Kimbilio Hospice today in search of help. Her three year old son’s face, grossly disfigured by a massive tumor arising from it, explained the reason for her desperation. She, like almost any mother, is willing to do anything within her means for the life of her child. Unfortunately, her means are limited. She lives in a land where the early detection and treatment of cancer are rare; and where suffering, although needless, is in plenty.
This mother told the story of her futile attempts to get treatment for her sick child. Until March of this year, her son, Osoro, had been healthy. A small wound had appeared on the left side of his face; but when it failed to heal and continued to grow, she took him to the local hospital. He was sent back home without a proper diagnosis or any treatment plan. In the hope of saving her child, Osoro, along with his mother and grandmother, traveled over 100 miles, from a village near Kisii, to see an herbalist that lives near Kipkaren. With one look at the child, the herbalist told the mother that there was nothing he could do for them. With warranted fears and unsure of what to do next, Osoro’s mother was told to come to Kimbilio, as it is “the place where people are helped”. Knowing nothing else about the hospice, she got on the back of a motorbike with her son and came.
As I sat with this mother and listened to her retell the story, I imagined the days and nights that she has cried out to God for help. His silence, as she watched her son suffer, must have felt like indifference. Although I have questions without answers, I have no doubt that God brought this mother and child to us today.
This past weekend, I watched a documentary highlighting hospice care in Uganda. One of the subject matters of the video was Burkitt’s lymphoma, a cancer that primarily affects children and has a high incidence in equatorial Africa. In spite of its fast-growing nature, Burkitt’s lymphoma is often treatable and even curable. Upon meeting Osoro today, I immediately knew to consult with an amazing pediatric oncologist who is working in Eldoret, a town about a one hour drive away from Kipkaren. Osoro and his mother are sleeping at Kimbilio tonight and will travel to Eldoret in the morning for a full workup and will hopefully be able to begin chemotherapy in the next couple of days.
As I think of the unlikely sequence of events that led Osoro and his mother to Kimbilio today, I am amazed. It moves me deeply to consider that God would choose Living Room to be an answer to a mother’s prayers.
To learn more about The Living Room, you can visit their website.