Follow by Email

Monday, June 6, 2011


Tomorrow morning I will finally get to visit Chawezi in the hospital in Blantyre, Malawi. Although we did meet in 2007, it wasn't really a formal introduction, and we've never actually spoken to each other. So I have to say I'm a bit nervous, and I'm not sure what to expect.

What is she doesn't even actually want to see me? What if she's not interested in any help?
What if she does want help, but asks for the impossible? What if I'll be forced to let her down?

I don’t know what to expect. But I feel like as long as I’m doing the right thing, as long as I’m doing what I feel God would want me to do, then that’s all I can do. And it’s good enough.

This morning I met with some of the staff at the World Vision Malawi National Office. Part of the meeting included a more complete history of Chawezi’s medical issues and history. Wow, it’s worse than I thought.

Below is a truncated version of the 2+ page document I received:
·         Chawezi was born May 8, 1983. She was born out of wedlock and has never met her father.
·         She was born with spinal bifida, and as a result did not learn to walk until age 7-8 (I had always assumed she’d been born without her legs, but that was not the case).
·         She was also born without an anus. A surgery to try and correct both problems happened within days of her birth.
·         An anal opening was created, but the surgery left her incontinent for both urine and feces.
·         Her mother died before her tenth birthday.
·         She developed epilepsy in her teen years. Although she takes medication for this, she still sometimes has violent seizures.
·         At the age of 15, she developed a blister on her left foot, which became infected to the point that the leg had to be amputated. A few years last the same thing happened to the other foot.
·         She was given a special tricycle to get around on (steered and pedaled with her hands). Between spending all her time on her rear end, and the fact that she’s completely incontinent, she developed pressure sores which became infected and which resulted in half of her buttocks being removed.
·         She was been in and out of the hospital trying to keep her wounds dressed and clean, but with little or no improvement in her condition.
·         In mid 2010, she was given artificial legs. The hope was that her standing up would relieve the pressure and allow wounds and sores to finally heal. However, she quit using them because they caused pain in her hips due to their weight. (One of the purposes of her current hospital stay is to try and find lighter artificial legs for her.)

The document goes on to say, “Chawezi has lived most of her life in pain and suffering.” Wow. Twenty eight years of mostly pain and suffering. The document ends with the sentence, “All these issues are affecting her psychologically.” Um, you think???

I don’t know what I can do to help her. But I’ll do whatever I can, that’s for sure.

1 comment:

  1. Pat's wife Aimee: Wow. Though I have never met Chawezi, we have had her picture on our refrigerator, along with nieces and nephews and photos of our own daughter, for the last 5 years or so. I am a bit shocked by the strength of my own response to this. I feel very sad that anyone, especially someone relatively young, has lived so much of her life in pain and lonely suffering. I kick myself a bit for having not been more aware and motivated to dig deeper into her story. Though she's been a "kid on our frig" who I've thought and wondered about and prayed for, I have been so oblivious to her needs. I am really grateful Pat is there with her now so that, in some small way, we can do more to help. I know God loves this young woman the way I love my daughter. I feel a lot of that love toward Chawezi right now and really grieve for her losses. I also feel a lot of compassion and a desire to do whatever is possible to minimize the strain and burdens in her life. Thanks, Pat, for making the trip and being the emissary for our family.