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The need for medical care, especially for children, is overwhelming across much of Africa. In rural Kenya, over 12 percent of the babies born today will die before their first birthday. Almost 23 percent of the children born today will not live to see age five. What is most saddening is that, with proper medical care and treatment, the thousands of ill children could be saved. The local community has contributed as much as they can to make healthcare centers possible in the region, but a lot of equipment is still needed to create adequate centers, including medical equipment for infant deliveries, delivery beds, hospital beds, mattresses, pillows, sheets, blankets, equipment sterilizers, heaters, and incubators.
Dear Mr. Doe,
Just recently, I read a quote that is attributed to Blessed Teresa of Calcutta — known as Mother Teresa during her lifetime. Her words astonished me at first — but then I recalled how she never backed away from challenging us in our responsibilities towards the poor — especially poor children. “It is the greatest poverty to decide that a child must die,” Blessed Teresa said, “so that you may live as you wish.” Powerful words from a holy woman who knew too well what it was like to look into the eyes of a dying child.
Blessed Teresa’s words came to mind as I read a letter I received recently from Sr. Joyce Matage — a Missionary Sister working with other members of her order in Kisii in southwestern Kenya, in East Africa. As you probably know, the need for medical care — especially among children — is overwhelming across much of the African continent. This is particularly true within the more rural regions like Kisii, Kenya. As a matter of fact, recent studies have shown that the situation is so dire in rural Africa that the life expectancy in some of these areas is only 38 years of age. Can you imagine? Most people will die before they reach age 40!
In these same areas, more than 12 percent of the babies born today will die before their first birthday. Nearly 23 percent of the children who are born today will not live to see age five. And perhaps the saddest part is that — since many of these deaths are caused by diseases such as AIDS, malaria and anemia — with proper medical care and treatment — the lives of thousands of children could be saved.
That’s why Sister Joyce and the other missionaries are working to bring adequate healthcare to those who need it most.
“We have renovated two rooms at our dispensary,” Sr. Joyce writes, “to create a delivery room, a post-natal unit and a newborn unit in St. Catherine’s Mission in Kisii. We have installed electricity in the units and plumbing as well. We have even installed a new 5,000 liter water harvesting and storage system so that those who come to the medical facility will have access to clean water. The local community has contributed as much money as they possibly can to make the renovations possible — about $2,700. That is an incredible amount of money coming from a community that is desperately poor.”
“Despite the people’s generosity and willingness to do as much of the building as they possibly could themselves, we are still in need of equipment for the new health center for infants and newborns. That is why I am writing to you.”
“In order to make the health center operational, we still need to purchase medical equipment for infant deliveries, delivery beds, hospital beds, mattresses, pillows, sheets, blankets, equipment sterilizers, heaters, incubators — the list goes on. We also need scales, suction equipment, stretchers, and other material.”
“This maternity unit is located in a very remote area and serves those who are very poor. Whatever you can do will help save so many lives — especially children.” After I finished reading Sr. Joyce’s letter, I recalled again the words of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta — and how often she witnessed poor children dying. The needless death of a child is truly a tragedy we cannot allow to happen.
My friend, you have been so generous to our missionaries and those whom we serve. Whenever I have reached out to you in the past — on their behalf — you have responded in kindness. For this I cannot thank you enough. Will you reach out again to those who are in need? I am praying that we can raise at least $33,000 to help Sr. Joyce’s mission and our other missions throughout East Africa. I don’t know how much you can send, but perhaps you (by yourself or together with a friend) could try to match the contribution made by the poor families in Sr. Joyce’s mission ($2,700). Whatever you can do, whether it is a large gift or not, I want you to know how much we sincerely appreciate all that you do for the poor and those in need. Without your continued support, our missionaries could do very little! God bless you for your kindness.