Monday, September 14, 2009

Reflection: Tamba

Tamba: a Land-to-Ship Partnership Story

Kono, Sierra Leone: “Throw the child away, it’s not worth keeping! How will you ever afford medical care or even begin to look after it?”

Huddled together in the small hut, the mood grows darker and more foreboding as harsh words pass back and forth. Family members peer down at the newborn baby; all are intent on expressing a view. Finela tries to cover her ears as each word pierces her heart. Gazing at her husband, Ishaka, their eyes begin to fill with tears. Their hearts overflow with compassion. This is their newborn baby boy, Tamba.

The 8cm tumor protruding from the forehead is gruesome. Little Tamba is a sight to behold, yet he is still a gift from God.

After a month of living under the constant words of condemnation from family and friends, Ishaka and Finela decide to go. Leaving their four older children with relatives, they travel with Tamba from their village to Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown.

“My heart was so heavy,” Ishaka remembers. “I had some savings, yet I had no idea if Tamba could be helped. All I knew was that we couldn’t give up on him.”

But arriving in the city, hope was difficult to find. Various hospitals offered a range of advice, while charging exorbitant fees for counsel and medicine that did nothing. Ishaka was growing desperate. His only desire was to help Tamba, but he was frustrated at every turn and now he was running out of money.

“Looking back, I just feel sick,” Ishaka explains, “Over a month I spent more than $300 on hopes that were never fulfilled. These are all my savings. I was even charged for a surgery that Tamba never received.”

Then Ishaka heard of a Mercy Ships clinic in Freetown. He went there and met Sandra Lako, a doctor at the children’s outpatient clinic of the Aberdeen West African Fistula Centre.

“The timing was perfect,” Ishaka smiles, “I could afford nothing more. I was desperate and exhausted. Sandra believed in us and was a gift from God. Praise Him!”

After diagnosing the mass as a congenital tumor, Sandra explained that the surgery could not be done at the outpatient clinic. But it could be possible onboard the Mercy Ship in Liberia. She told Ishaka that the hospital ship has the skilled surgeons and the CT scanner necessary to help Tamba.

“And the most incredible news of all…” laughs Ishaka, “Sandra explained that Mercy Ships is free. Never in our life had we heard of free medical care. This was a miracle. Then another miracle happened. I had no funds left, but Sandra blessed us so greatly. Through her provisions we were able to financially afford to reach the ship.”

Sandra admits, “It did feel a little strange handing over a large amount of money to someone I had only seen three times. I made it very clear that they need to use this money for transport, and if they choose to use if for something else, I will not be able to give them any more money. My prayer for them was ‘Lord, keep Tamba and his parents safe in their travels. Give the surgeons on the ship wisdom! Lead, protect, guide.’”

Tamba and his parents reached the ship safely at the end of September. A CT scan confirmed that the tumor was operable, and a successful surgery took place later in October. Ishaka phoned Sandra periodically to keep her updated on Tamba's progress.

From his son’s bedside on the ship, Ishaka tries to put his gratitude into words, “I just cannot say thank you enough. Financially I have lost everything, but my son has life. I am just amazed that people have believed in me and wanted to help me. From Sierra Leone to Liberia, I have met people who really love and really care. Now I truly know that there is a God who cares for me and my family.”

1 comment:

Emma said...

that is incredible! It is amazing to hear how God works in these small yet powerful ways! Thanks for being available to him to help others,

David Craig

~ Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly. micah 6:8 ~