Sometimes the situations that we deal with in the slum communities are not as straightforward as they first appear. Often people’s mindsets have to change before there can be any physical difference in their life.
Take for example the case of Patience. We noticed her as we were walking though Katogo 2 one day, she was displaying signs of severe malnourishment, including a loss of hair colour and limbs swollen with oedema. We knew she needed to be taken to hospital soon before it was too late for her to recover. So we talked to Mama Patience about her daughter’s illness and suggested that she take her to the hospital. At this point, however, Mama told us flatly that Patience’ sickness was due to witchcraft and only a witch doctor could help her! In fact the witch doctor had already told her that if she took Patience to the hospital and she had any kind of injection then she would die. She refused to take her daughter to the hospital and told us to leave her alone.
As the days passed, Patience continued to worsen, despite all the advice of the witch doctor. Eventually, after many visits and discussions with the social team, and finally a visit from the Probation and Welfare officer, Mama agreed to take Patience to the hospital. Unfortunately, before Patience could be admitted Mama decided to take her daughter and leave. Things were now critical for Patience, with her health declining each day. This same scenario happened again a few days later with the same result and it was only the third time of persuading her to go to the hospital that she finally decided to stay and Patience was admitted. This was a real answer to prayer, as we had been holding up mama and daughter for some time to God.
A few days later Patience had shown enough progress to be discharged from the hospital. During their stay, Mama had learnt from the programme there how to provide the right diet for her child and had seen that her’s was not the only child in that situation. Upon their return home and much to our delight, Mama agreed to put Patience on our Nutrition Programme.
Over a long, complicated and sometimes stressful process we have seen a great change in both mother and daughter. Patience gained nearly half a kilo in two weeks and has now regained her natural hair colour. She plays and runs around where before she was lethargic and uninterested in anything. Mama’s perspective has undergone a similarly dramatic change. Where before she was negative, filled with anger and frustration at her daughter’s sickness, to the point of not wanting to talk to us or even see us. Now she is open, welcoming, always pleased to see us and so grateful for Patience’ growing good health. She eagerly enquires when the next Nutrition Mini-group is being held, tells us about other neighbours who are sick nearby and even advises them to go to hospital.
Praise the Lord for such a dramatic transformation that can see people’s lives change for the better!