Summer 2023 newsletter
Jaclyn Geyer, Tanzania
Anyone who has known me more than a day will tell you that I am not a morning person. Needless to say, I wasn’t thrilled I had to be up and out the door by 6:30 a.m. on June 20 for a visit to families in Tarime, about an hour and a half north of Musoma.
We were to meet three children with clubfeet at the local parish and take them to a hospital in Shirati, another two-hour drive. As things often go here, we had some delays throughout the day. While we were scheduled to meet the families at 8 am, it was almost 11 by the time all three children — Elias, Ezra and Jackson — showed up with their parents or guardians.
As we were about to leave for Shirati together, we received a phone call from the father of a child who had already undergone treatment. He heard we were visiting and called to tell us about a three-week old infant born with clubfoot, little Maria.
We were already running so late, I couldn’t see how we could also accommodate a fourth child. But I was quickly reminded of how Tanzanians will adjust schedules to help each other. We sent one vehicle ahead to Shirati, with the first three children.
Maria’s mother didn’t even have the money to pay for a motorcycle taxi to the church. We arranged a ride for them and covered the cost. Maria and her mother finally arrived after 12 noon. At this point, my stomach started to grumble. I wondered if there would be any chance of getting some lunch. I hadn’t eaten breakfast, and now we had a two-hour car ride ahead. I put it out of my mind as we traveled on the dirt road in between Tarime and Shirati.
We arrived four hours later than our scheduled appointment to a modest building labeled “Physiotherapy Department” at the small hospital. We found Elias, Ezra and Jackson waiting for us to arrive with Maria. The doctor warmly welcomed us, despite my worries about being late and having an additional child with us.
Lucky for Maria and Elias, they are under the age of 5, so their treatment is easier and also free of charge. They were able to begin the protocol that day. It would require weekly visits for 5-10 weeks for them to complete. We had the funds on hand to cover their other related expenses, such as transport.
Little Maria, a calm and sweet baby, has no idea of the difficulties she has already faced in her short life so far. She will have no memory of this obstacle. She received her plaster casts with only a little fuss and quickly fell back to sleep in her mother’s arms.
The other two children, Jackson and Ezra, are both 13-year-old boys. After examining them, the doctor advised that their situation is more difficult. They are too old for the non-surgical protocol and none of their costs would be covered.
There is hope for them, though, too. A specialist doctor visits Shirati all the way from America once a year in December to assist in these more difficult cases. The doctor informed us of the costs to have the procedure done. When we added everything up (physiotherapy, surgery, travel, equipment) it came to a total of $2,000 to treat both Jackson and Ezra. Their families are not able to come up with the amount, and St. Justin’s doesn’t have a budget to support the costs.
Jackson and Ezra are both intelligent and kind young boys. They are in the sixth grade with a bright future ahead of them.
I’m inviting you to join us and be a part of the “village it takes to raise a child” by asking for your support to raise the $2,000. We need to raise that amount by September in order for both Ezra and Jackson to start physiotherapy in October and undergo surgery in December.
By 4:30 p.m. we were finally finished at the hospital and on our way back to Tarime. We still hadn’t had the chance to eat anything. I was tempted to declare, “I haven’t eaten all day, when are we eating?!” But it was at this time that I reflected on the children and their families throughout the day. They had also not eaten all day.
These people had gone through so much to find help for their children and did not complain one bit. All I noticed was gratitude. In Tanzania it is common for people and children to not have anything to eat all day. It gave me a newfound respect and appreciation for the community I serve.
Please consider joining our circle of COMPANIONS IN MISSION. Companions in Mission are generous donors. like you, who give financial gifts on a regular (usually monthly) basis. For more information visit Become a Companion in Mission. Thank you so much for your generosity!