Thursday, October 27, 2016

A Story of Hope

You may remember a story from a previous blog (December 4, 2015) about P'Untcha and Fofa.  Here is a continuation of her story written by special guest blogger, Beryl Forrester.  Spelling and names are different but all the same people.  Evalina is Fofa's birth name, Fofa is her nickname.  

Evalina’s Story
More than two years ago, in 2014, a middle age woman named Poncha appeared at our Catel clinic with Evalina, an eleven year old orphan girl. They came from Bissau, Guinea Bissau’s capital city, in search of medical help for Evalina. Some months earlier Evalina suffered an injury to her lower leg while she was playing in their neighborhood.
Poncha is Evalina’s auntie, who took her sister’s daughter in when both of Evalina’s parents were deceased. Because the family has very limited resources Evalina was not given the medical attention she needed for the injury. The wound became infected and in a few days her tibia bone was actually protruding out through the wound. 

Karen with Poncha 

With that condition Poncha took Evalina to a hospital in Bissau and was told that they were unable to help Evalina. Through her network of friends Poncha heard positive reports about the Mennonite clinic in Catel. That is how she made her way to Catel, accompanied by Evalina, now in considerable distress with her worsening wound situation in 2014.

Delores Shirk and the clinic staff quickly realized that the situation had gotten far worse than anything we were able to address at our clinic.  
At that point the entire EMM team, including Mike and Karen Baker who were still in Guinea Bissau, began to discuss what measures could be taken to save Evalina’s leg because without help she was likely headed towards an amputation. We were aware of two sources of potential help for this precious child. One was EMM’s ‘Child in Crisis Fund’ and second was a Christian hospital some 200 miles north of Catel in Theis, Senegal, 40 miles east Dakar.
I made contact with Dr. Chagas, a Brazilian missionary doctor in Dakar and he agreed to examine her to see if there would be a possibility of saving her leg with a bone graft.
In late November, 2015 Poncha, Evalina and I were on a ferry headed for Dakar and Dr. Chagas’ office. His observation was that the condition was very complex and was more than he could undertake alone. He needed to consult with some of his medical colleagues in Dakar to see if they could attempt to save her lower leg. We returned to Guinea Bissau somewhat hopeful but without any clear answers. After many weeks of waiting we were finally signaled to return to Theis with Evalina on May 4, 2016.

Waiting for transportation on the road.  The stick resting on Evalina's leg was her cane, or walking stick.
The Christian community in Theis under the leadership of Annelise Goldschmitt, a Mennonite missionary from France, welcomed Evalina and Poncha, knowing this would be a long term medical event. They located a room with kitchen facilities for the two visitors and found friends for them who could speak their native Bissau Creole.
Happy to be going home.
The surgery was finally performed in June including a bone graft and the insertion of a metal tube. After a few bouts with infection and her leg in a cast for several weeks, Evalina regained her mobility and a shoe-lift with a full leg brace and crutches were made for her. 
Evalina is now thirteen and the doctor is hopeful that as she grows her shorter leg will extend so she will be able to walk without aids or devices. Let’s pray that will happen.
On October 24, Evalina and Poncha returned to their home in Bissau, ready to pick up where they left off 6 months earlier.

Evalina is a cheerful, gregarious young person and she has great potential as a testimony to the goodness of God and His people who gave her hope and a fresh chance at living a normal life.

Blessings to all who have made this intervention possible through supporting the EMM ‘Child in Crisis’ fund.

Guest blogger - Beryl Forrester, EMM missionary in Senegal, West Africa

To give to the Child in Crisis fund go to and in the 'preferenced for' section write 'Child in Crisis, Guinea Bissau'. 


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