KRB Update #2169 Kalimu
Keith R. Brinkman Sierra Leone August 27, 2011
Greetings from Sierra Leone, West Africa. Please allow me to introduce you to a new friend (mi padi in the local language) and one of our patients – Kalimu from the area of Kenema.
Kalimu was born with a cleft lip (hole or gap) on the left hand side. Cleft lips are a congenital deformity / birth defect common all around the world. In the developed world, surgery is readily available and done around two months after birth. In Sierra Leone and most of western Africa, surgery is not readily available.
His granny heard that Mercy Ships was screening for potential patients in January at their local government hospital. She brought the boy from the village and he was screened and scheduled for surgery in August. She waited patiently and when it was close to August, she asked the boy’s parents if he could live with her for the time of Ramadan (on the Islamic calendar for the entire month of August). When the time came, Kalimu traveled with granny to Freetown (5 hours away).
I first met Kalimu at the HOPE Center where he was staying before his surgery onboard. He was quiet and kept to himself even when invited to join the others kids and me. Though by day three, he came up and stood next to me and later sat on my lap and feel asleep – so either he was tired or he trusted me. Wednesday came as the day of admission to the hospital onboard. I visited him that evening in Ward D and we played with some toys together. When I returned to my cabin that evening, I thought ‘it would be great to be able to observe his surgery as I haven’t seen a cleft surgery and I have been here more than five years’. In the morning, I contacted the operating room supervisor and she checked with the surgeon and he was fine with me observing. For over an hour, I watched intently and prayed continually as Dr. Gary performed his surgery. It was amazing to watch the physical transformation for Kalimu. I waited with him in the recovery room as he woke up. When we brought him to his bed in the ward, his granny saw him and clapped her hands and ‘shaked’ her body in joy for her grandson.
During the time onboard, I visited Kalimu daily. He enjoyed going to Deck 7 (our outside deck) and playing on the ride-on toys there, something he has never seen before. When Kalimu was sent to the HOPE Center, I visited with him and his granny with a translator as they only speak the mende language. Granny shared that he is a ‘closed’ boy – quiet and reserved. I shared that when I was his age, I was shy and only had a few friends and kept to myself a lot. I learned that Kalimu lives with his parents in a village and they felt when he was born ‘that is how Allah made him’ and would not do anything to change it. Yet his granny also a Muslim felt differently. I asked her how his parents will feel when they see Kalimu – not knowing if they would be upset, messing with Allah’s will or gladi (happy) that their boy is healed. She said they will be gladi. I would love to be there when granny takes Kalimu to the village for the first time after Ramadan. She has already enrolled him in school in town and even though they are Muslim, she has him in a Christian school due to the quality of education.
Prayer Request: Kalimu’s life, reintegration into society, his physical, spiritual and emotional health – and for all of our patients
Serving Together, Keith Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.KeithBrinkman.com
Mail: Keith R. Brinkman, Mercy Ships, P.O. Box 2020, Lindale, TX 75771 USA
Schedule: Sierra Leone Field Service February 27 – December 8, 2011