The easy thing would be to look away…say “that’s so sad”…and I’ll pray for her.
Part of my heart was tempted to just do that. After all, in a world full of problems–some times it feels like that is the only thing I can do.
But this time…it’s different.
It was just minutes before class began in a small little school in Ndola, Zambia at Wiphan school–a school we have poured our hearts and lives into the past 5 years. All the little girls ran past her giggling…while she limped to barely make it there on time. Just as she was about to pass me–she looked up and our eyes locked. Margret. I remembered…
Before coming I had gone through all the pictures of my friend’s sponsored children–promising to do my best to pull them each aside while I was there–and tell them how dearly loved they were. And so I did.
But telling this girl–wasn’t easy…because I was dumbfounded by her appearance…something not only wasn’t right–but something was terribly wrong. Three U.S. team members sat looking at her in disbelief–wondering if I knew more about her story…wondering how I would handle this conversation…
First though–she needed to know she was loved. Sister Mary was beside me and although Margret can speak some English–Sister Mary was there to translate between us…
“Margret! I am Andrea. Linda is my friend…your sponsored family in America wanted me to find you–and tell you how much they love you…how much they pray for you. Margret…you are beautiful. Do you know that?? You are perfectly and wonderfully made.”
Her eyes lit up. Had she been told? Had she forgotten? And then she told me herself without my asking…
“The other children are scared of me. My leg is too big. It is too hard for me to play with them–and some times they make fun of me.”
“Oh Margret–you are beautiful. To me–you are perfect. Did you know you are beautiful?”
“No.” Her head hung low…and then she glanced up–her eyes beamed–and she smiled. “But I have witches living in my leg. That is what my mother has told me. Every since I was a baby–she said a curse has been on me. This is why my leg is big. There is no medicine to help me because it is witches.”
“Margret. You are a Wiphan student–so I believe you have heard about Jesus…no? Do you believe in Jesus Margret?”
“YES! Of course I do! I believe!”
“Well Margret–let me tell you the truth. You do NOT have witches living in your leg. You are NOT under a curse. Did you know that if you have Jesus in your heart Margret that the evil one has NO power of you. Did you know?!”
The biggest smile…one that would fill up heaven and make the angels sing crossed her face. “REALLY?! Is this the truth??”
“Yes. It is the truth!!! Margret–we need to take you to a real doctor. Not a witch doctor–but a REAL doctor. Have you ever been to one?”
“No. But if you can get Sister Mary to talk to my mom and explain this isn’t witches–I think I can go.”
Margret and I sat together and talked for awhile longer–and throughout the week…I couldn’t help but fall in love with her gentle, sweet spirit. Often she walked alone, but with such bravery and courage to still come to school every day despite her condition.
We guessed her case was elephantiasis–and this would not be good for a child of her age as it was obvious the disease had progressed not only to her feet but all the way up her leg and now into her buttocks and lower back. This can be spread through mosquitoes–and suddenly I feared how many others might be carriers as it can be 8 years before symptoms appear at all. We knew the local clinics might not know how to diagnose this case–so to be sure, we also asked permission to take pictures to ask doctors before taking her to the private clinics and doctors in the area.
It was obvious one of her tiny legs was carrying an infection…
I wish I could say the swelling stops there. But–it goes all the way up to her lower back–and it’s obvious she has two large tumors just below her lower back as well.
And because I hugged her…heard her gentle, soft voice…watched her try her best to keep up with classmates…
…because I thought, “What if she were MINE…I would do anything for her to be well…”
…and because she is HIS I can’t just look the other way, say “that is so sad”…I’m going to pray for her…and walk away…and forget.
I got home and immediately contacted the H family–I didn’t know what we could do…but we knew we had to do something. Kristin, Wiphan’s intern, was returning to Zambia a couple of weeks later and we wouldn’t be able to do anything more until then. The H’s have fallen in love with their sponsored child, Margret–and they were as devastated as I was just as if they had held her themselves. They asked if they could send over something to encourage her–and while we typically don’t send special things to just our sponsored kids as so many are not sponsored YET…this was a different case…
My husband had the opportunity to return to Zambia the first week of October–just a little over a month after Kristin’s return. Kristin had been trying to get Margret to a clinic–but as the events would play out–she was finally able to go during their visit. Richard got side-tracked with the sudden death of our school’s principle while he was there…so Kristin had to follow up last week after they returned home from the U.S. And we FINALLY received a diagnosis for this precious girl’s problem.
The good news is this–it is NOT elephantiasis! AND even better–she CAN be helped!!!
The bad news is…the damage done to her leg is now dead tissue–and there may be nothing they can do about the swollen dead tissue. BUT it can be stopped now from becoming worse with surgery!
And THIS is where the village comes in.
The H family, Margret’s sponsored family, have a young daughter–just a few years older than Margret. During the last year, the Lord has moved their daughter’s heart in BIG ways on behalf of orphans. She has started a blog called “Orphan’s Lifeguard”…and she has a very big idea. To save the life of her sponsored child.
On Wiphan’s behalf–I have shared with this family Magret’s diagnosis–and you can read the complete diagnosis on the Orphan’s Lifeguard blog. The first thing–there are 2 tumors in her legs that must be removed to determine the exact cause of swelling. The tumors may or may not be cancerous–and we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. But for now we need to raise $2,000 to cover her surgery and post-surgery care. Without this surgery, it may be a fatal case…and we feel compelled to do something as the body of Christ…as His village…to potentially save her life.
I just went to their daughter’s blog and saw a picture she posted of Labstone reading a letter to her from their family. They were in a car–and Labstone was taking Margret to her very first clinic visit after we received approval from her mom. There Labstone is…the principle we lost while Richard was there…the friend we wish we COULD have saved…trying to help SAVE her. For him–it is much too late…and he is now with Jesus. But for Margaret…we CAN do something.
Our plan is to raise $2,000. I believe the Lord will do this…through some of your reading…through some of you who feel compelled to share this story on your blogs, on Facebook or emailing to your friends. I believe through this the Lord will be glorified…that Margret’s life CAN be saved…that H family–and their daughter’s faith in the Almighty and how He can use her in her young age can be strengthened…that Margret’s mother, family and village might see Jesus in this…that His name might be greater because of it. Will you join us–in making a different in Margret’s future…and the ripple effect I know this will have on so many?
Please visit the Orphan’s Lifeguard blog to find out how you can make a tax-deductible donation directly to Wiphan for Margret’s surgery–and please also read how she wants to involve EVERY donor in encouraging Margret in the hospital while she is recovering. VISIT BLOG HERE TO JOIN US IN HELPING MARGRET.
What a beautiful picture of two little girls…across the world from one another. Across the world they live–and they are BOTH impacting one another in ways that are life-changing. If you have a moment–please pray for Margret–and for the fundraiser for her…that the Lord will bless it. We would be honored to have you a part of our village…it’s the body of Christ–coming together…in love…to impact the world for His good name.
Blessings to you as you run this race with perseverance!