Story written by Gloria Barker, Can Do Kids International Team Member
In June 2017, our team was returning to a school we had already visited to meet the special needs class. It was here we discovered five-year-old Joyce, who did not belong in this class. She was there due to the crippling effects of Jiggers, which left her hands and feet swollen and in pain. She was unable to write or walk properly - the reason she was put in this special ed class. We couldn't believe what we were hearing...
The teachers informed us that she had two more siblings at school (12 y/o Carolyn and 11 y/o Joseph) and brought them to the class as well. Joseph's hands and feet were equally impacted but Carolyn's feet were much worse.
The first thing we noticed, however, was a film that covered Carolyn's left eye. When we inquired about this, one of the teachers explained that an incident as an infant left her skin and eye burned, causing permanent damage. When she removed her shoes, we were in shock and disbelief over the severity of her condition. She has extreme tissue damage (and needs immediate medical care). I cannot imagine the pain she feels each and every day walking 3 miles each way to school.
Their story completely wrecked us. We knew we had to do something. Two days later, after gathering food, clothing and basic supplies, we headed back to their school to pick up the children--we learned they had another sister named Grace (6 years old). The route to their house was extremely difficult. Our van bumped along the rocky road until we couldn't go any further...we had to walk the last mile or so along the winding, rugged path. I was wheeling a suitcase full of supplies the entire way! My heart ached, thinking about the daily trek these children had to take to get to and from school. We finally made it to their home and were able to meet their mother and baby sister. We distributed the clothes and supplies we had brought.
It was very clear God had arranged the meeting with this family and it was amazing to see Him intervening on their behalf. What a blessing to be a part of His work!
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." -Jeremiah 29:11
The following day, we returned to their school once again to bring shoes and other supplies. We had arranged with the teachers to leave food and medical supplies at the school in order for the teachers to dispense the food and provide treatment for the jiggers.
When I arrived at the special needs class, Joyce ran up to me, wrapped her arms around my neck and wouldn't let go. Her smile was infectious- what a difference from the first day we met!
Each child received new socks, shoes and a backpack full of school supplies. They were overwhelmed, smiled ear to ear and just kept repeating "thank you....thank you...thank you...." over and over again.
Where just a few days earlier, we had seen hopelessness and despair, we now saw hope and joy. The transformation was beyond beautiful.
"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." -Isaiah 40:31
Will you join us in praying for this family and consider supporting their financial needs? We are excited to be part of the work that God is doing and eagerly look to see how He is going to change their lives.
If you are moved to give towards this need and other students suffering from the same conditions, you can donate online here.