Sponsoring Smiles – By Laura Marshall
Health & Well-being
Welcome back! This is the third post in a series here at Orphans of Teso called Sponsoring Smiles. We’ve already talked about how your sponsorship dollars impact the FOOD the children receive and the WATER they drink. Today I want to talk about how sponsorship helps provide basic medical care and emotional well-being for the children.
There’s a lot I could talk about with respect to health care in Uganda. There are a lot of statistics that I could quote—in fact, I almost led with some of them. But what stands out vividly in my mind is a story told by one of the team members who went to Ongongoja in January.
She posted a picture of a boy and said that when they arrived at Ongongoja, this boy was crying and his sleeve pulled off one of his arms. Turned out the boy had fallen out of a tree and broken his arm. Here’s a direct quote from her http://moderndaymissionary.org
“He will be taken to a hospital later in the day because he happens to be one of the kids in our HopeChest program. The reality is if this injury had happened prior to there being a CarePoint here, he would have remained injured and deformed for the rest of his days because it would have gone untreated.”
I have never broken a bone, and so far, neither of my children have either. But my husband has broken bones in the same hand four times. Four! Two of them required a cast. I’m sure many of you reading this have broken a bone, known someone who has, or has a child who has broken a bone—or four!
I have no way of knowing how far that hospital is from Ongongoja, but I imagine it was no easy journey. It likely took all day, if not longer, to get him treated. Now imagine if that boy hadn’t been in the HopeChest program, or if he’d broken his arm one year earlier. With no treatment, the arm wouldn’t heal properly, and he’d likely have limited use of that arm for the rest of his life. This might impact his possibly to write if he’s left-handed; it would impact his ability to work and contribute to the community and his family. He might be in pain for the rest of his life due to the arm not healing properly, which would further reduce his abilities. All of this from a broken arm as a boy, something that happens to so many kids in America.
What a blessing that this boy is in our program! Your sponsorship dollars truly matter. Addressing the health and nutrition needs of the children at any new CarePoint is the first priority. They are part of the Survive phase of HopeChest’s model for community development.
One very important thing we are able to do for the kids through the program is provide vaccinations for prevalent and debilitating diseases. Currently, the staff in Uganda are in the process of administering the vaccine for Hepatitis B to all the unvaccinated children in the program. Hepatitis B causes acute and chronic liver and can be life-threatening, especially when medical services are difficult to obtain. Every month a portion of sponsorship dollars goes into a medical fund so that whenever medical needs arise for the children they can be taken care of.
There’s another facet of health that HopeChest focuses on, and that is the emotional needs of the child. HopeChest was founded on an effort to show orphaned children in Russia what a family is supposed to look like, with a father and a mother fulfilling their God-given roles. This focus continues to be a driving force in what HopeChest does for the vulnerable children in rural villages in Uganda. HopeChest wants to give children that same sense of family, of belonging. They do this through the incredible men and women who work for HopeChest, who love on the children daily and provide a stable presence in the lives of the kids. There are trained social workers who interact with the children on a daily basis who help them work through their emotional scars and make sure they living in a healthy emotional environment.
HopeChest also places heavy emphasis on the relationship between the child and his or her sponsor. We as sponsors have an awesome responsibility to show the love of Christ to a child who may not know where he will sleep that night. We can be a consistent voice of love and support and encouragement through all of the unimaginable things our sponsored child will go through in life. We can walk with our sponsored child through the hard places and celebrate in the good. There will probably be both. And you will be blessed to see the joy and faith of these little ones as they suffer things we can’t fathom.
Thank you, those of you who already sponsor. You are truly a blessing to these children. If you would like to sponsor a child check out the link below to learn more.
For those of you who love statistics, here are a few that will make your head and heart spin:
Life expectancy at birth is just 57 years (1), which actually increased by 12 years since 2000. (In the US, life expectancy is 78 years.)
Uganda is the youngest country in the world, with 48% of the population under the age of 15.(1)
Only 15% of the population of Uganda, over 37 million people, lives in urban areas.(1)That means most of the people in Uganda don’t have easy access to good health care.
Uganda has 1 doctor per 10,000 people.(2) The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a ratio of 1 doctor per 1,000 people. (The US has 24 doctors per 10,000 people.)
In 2000, the year the WHO published a ranking of world health systems, Uganda was ranked at #149 out of 190 (The US was at #37).(3)
HIV/AIDS is by far the leading cause of death.(1)
1 World Health Organization, http://www.who.int/gho/countries/uga.pdf?ua=1
2 The World Bank, http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.MED.PHYS.ZS
3 World Health Organization, http://www.who.int/whr/2000/en/whr00_en.pdf (PDF)