“What do you do with the money we send?”
Good question! And rightfully asked. Here’s some Q&A that may guide your prayers.
Last November, 6-year old Vusi was climbing a tree one afternoon in search of a mango (or 12) to eat. (Would you scale a tree, chancing an encounter with wasps or snakes, and come down with only one?) Not sure how it happened, but Vusi fell from the tree and jammed his left arm in a bad way. We determined it was serious enough to take him to the local (government) clinic, who referred him on to the hospital which is a half-hour’s drive away. His caregiver took him, in a vehicle we own and not on public transport. They took an Xray, wrapped his elbow in one roll of gauze, plus a sling, and told his caregiver it was bruised. Two weeks later, the swelling and pain were unabated, with range-of-motion still at zero.
So here’s the philosophical question: What should we do? We are not here to do a “medical/health-care work.” We’ve seen our calling to provide a safe, nurturing, and self-supporting residence for children orphaned or abandoned at a young age. And to integrate that piece into a community of institutions (schools, churches, health care, etc.) that will be there for the long term. However, as in all developing countries, there is another layer of health care available, – – the private clinics, doctors, and hospitals. This extends across the border to South Africa with its top class health care for those who can afford it. (We’ve benefited from the latter, as have most all missionaries across Southern Africa, i.e., making it unnecessary for us to fly to our 1st-world home countries for specialised care.). So what should we do?
After two weeks we chose to opt up a level for Vusi. It’s not the first time we’ve done so, – -for children or our staff. Plus we’d seen several permanently disfigured elbows in the community that apparently failed to get proper diagnosis and treatment.
Proper diagnosis at Mbabane Private Clinic, by a Nigerian GP, established that there was indeed a fracture close to the end of one bone in the elbow. The orthopaedic surgeon, a Zambian trained in the UK, prescribed an open reduction procedure with fixation. A month later Peter took him for the removal of the pins. Now Vusi is back to his usual high-energy, scatter-shot, movements all over the farm, and the range of motion is returning to his elbow. Though much cheaper than a similar procedure in the USA, it cost a pile of money. On New Life Home’s income stream, we’re still paying it off four months later.
So what should we have done?
In the affluent world, the ultimate in modern health care is considered “a basic right.” It’s not here!! But have we now established an expectation that won’t be sustainable after the missionaries are gone? An example of why your prayers for wisdom on our behalf are needed!
Are you still growing, i.e., receiving new placements?
Another good question!
In early March, a social worker from one of the cities called to request placement for three girls, aged nearly-two, four years, and six, – – all siblings. We have been full. But now some of older youth are in the process of ‘launching’ their independent lives, creating space here.
Which brings up another question we struggle with. How much should be share of the backstory of these children’s lives? Some children we’re not free to publish any information as their particular situation is too sensitive for legal or cultural reasons. For the others, are we “marketing” the stories of children and their various traumas for the sake of fund-raising and organisational survival (or profit). Some facts are perhaps impossible to explain from this cultural situation. Some may cause anger, cultural arrogance, revulsion, affluence guilt, etc. Some of our neighbors resent the outsiders who appear to have made a career of bringing shame to their cultures and families through the retelling of various tragedies. And the photos, do they always have to be so pathetic?
These concerns are legitimate and we also squirm with what we sometimes see going out for public consumption. But how to avoid “the excesses of charity” is not a line that is easy to discern. Feel free to share your ideas, cautions, or questions back to us as a way of keeping our perspective and practices in the best possible format.
This photo will also introduce you to our newest house-mother, Phumzile (POOM-ZEE-LEH) Nhlabatsi. She started with us back in September. She’s quickly gaining understanding of the business side of New Life Homes, and at home she’s a star!! The girls in her house have blossomed under her loving input. And she really wanted a “new little one.” She had to take three, but is doing a super job with these three that do have a sad story and need lots of loving attention.
Please pray for wisdom for Phumzile, restoration for the souls of these three girls, and God’s continued provision for this ministry.
Thanks for all you do to make this possible. It’s an honor to be here.
In His grace,
Peter & Mary Jean Kopp
Co-Founders New Life Children’s Homes