Kind benefactors fund cancer treatment for 2 children in Kenya
Posted: Thu, 03 Dec 2020 11:53
Fr Francis Preston SDB shares a good-news story about the generosity and compassion of a UK Salesian past pupil and his wife, in helping two children in Kenya suffering the appalling effects of untreated cancers to receive vital surgery. Photos: Maureen (left) and Brian after surgery
At the beginning of October, Caroline, the social worker in St Monica's parish, Rongai, a dormitory town outside Nairobi contacted me. She wanted to know if there might be a benefactor in the UK who would be willing to fund urgent medical treatment for two small children, Brian and Maureen.
Caroline explained that she had found four-year old Brian one morning while she was out visiting some poor and sick parishioners in a slum area of the parish. An elderly grandmother had stopped her and asked her to visit the little boy living next door to her. Caroline found Brian hungry and in pain, the result of the skin cancer covering the lower half of his face and neck and making it impossible for him to eat solid food or drink from a cup. Caroline discovered that tragically Brian's mother, a chronic alcoholic, often left Brian on his own for most of the day to care for himself.
The next day, quite out of the blue, Caroline received a text from a woman she didn't know who explained she was seriously ill in hospital and wanted to know if Caroline could help her three year old niece, Maureen. Both Maureen's parents were dead, and she was being cared for by neighbours in a slum district near Don Bosco Utume. When Caroline finally managed to locate Maureen she discovered that she had a large cancerous tumour growing close to her left eye which if left untreated would almost certainly destroy her sight in that eye.
The photos of the children that Caroline emailed me convinced me of the urgency of the situation. We agreed that Caroline would arrange for the members of the parish SVP group to collect the two children and take them to Kenyatta Hospital in central Nairobi. There Caroline would meet them and arrange for them to be admitted for treatment. In the meantime, I would contact Francis, a past pupil of Salesian College, Cowley. Francis had told me on more than one occasion not to hesitate in contacting him if I ever needed extra funding for any children in need. Within a couple of hours of receiving my email, Francis had replied saying he and his wife Joan would cover all the costs of the children's medical treatment. That was the good news we really needed to hear.
The doctors at the hospital decided that both children needed surgery as soon as possible. Getting that organised proved quite a challenge. The first batch of blood donated by a couple of the parishioners from St Monica's parish mysteriously went missing—probably sold to another patient's family. Then just days before the two children were to be operated on, some of the doctors and nurses working at the hospital went on strike, which meant that the operations had to be postponed for a week. Eventually both operations went ahead. The doctors succeeded in removing Maureen's tumour and saving the sight in her left eye. They also successfully removed the growth from Brian's thyroid.
Just a couple of days before Maureen was due to be discharged from hospital she fell out of bed in the middle of the night. Thankfully, one of the other children in the ward with her immediately ran and alerted the nurse in charge. She called the on-call doctor who came and did the necessary repairs.
Five weeks after they were admitted to hospital, thanks to the skill of the doctors and the many, many prayers offered for their recovery, Brian and Maureen were well enough to be discharged from hospital. They're both now being well cared for by their "guardian aunties" and continuing to make good progress.
The cost of the children's medical care came to close to 1,000,000 Kenya shillings, several thousand pounds sterling. It is the wonderful generosity of Francis and Joan, that has given Maureen and Brian a new lease of life. Don Bosco and his heavenly Madonna will surely bless them for that.
Fr Francis Preston SDB
If you would like to help the continuing work of the Salesians in Kenya, please contact Nic Howell, our Finance Manager, on +44 (0) 1204 600 720 or email email@example.com
Please keep Maureen and Brian in your prayers as they continue their recovery, as well as Francis and Joan, their generous benefactors.