On Thursday I had the beautiful privilege of joining my friends Holly and Meagan on a video shoot. Not a video shoot like anything I’ve ever seen or imagined in America. We joined our sweet friend Kelsey at the Children’s Hospital in Jinja. We were there to get footage for a short film Holly and Meagan are making for the Malaria Treatment Fund through Amazima Ministries. Kelsey has had a deeply personal experience with malaria, which you can read about here. This inspired her to partner with our friend Katie and create a way to help families who cannot afford malaria treatment for their children.
We were there to help tell a story. I got to play camera assistant and simply just take it in. What did I see?
A hospital where there are two or more children in most beds, IVs dripping, all sorts of sounds…children screaming, feet shuffling, mothers shushing, all sorts of smells, and many, many people in the waiting room, in the halls, in the wards. A hospital built to hold less than 100, yet which sees 5,000 plus children a month. Seeing mothers waiting, holding their children, for hours and not getting anywhere. Seeing brothers and sisters holding hands, carrying purses, and trying to be a miniature grown up in the face of a scary place. So many, standing in line, and waiting for treatment. Hoping there will be enough medicine at the hospital that day for their son to get treated. Praying the nurses and doctors can move fast enough that their daughter gets seen. Hoping that their child won’t get more ill from the hundreds of others there, waiting, hoping, and praying. Hoping the treatment won’t be more than they can afford.
It was overwhelming to say the least. To look into the eyes of a very sick little girl and her father who is sitting by her side, loving her, hoping and praying she gets better. To hear child after child crying. To look into hundreds of pairs of eyes and wonder, why are you here? Who is sick? Will they get well? Can you afford their treatment?
In America, it is a tragic thing when a child dies. It is, thankfully, a rarity. Here, it is a reality. In America, healthcare is often expensive. Here, it is comparatively cheap (by our standards). But for many here, it is too much. They cannot afford 20,000 Ugandan Shillings for malaria treatment…the equivalent of $8.40. And most of the children don’t even need that much…maybe the equivalent of one or two dollars. There are more children in Uganda dying of malaria, a treatable and preventable disease, than HIV/AIDS. What?! That’s crazy. I didn’t know that until I came here and I learned from Kelsey and other friends more about it. I didn’t get it until I saw it at the hospital on Thursday. The reality is that a child dies from malaria every 45 seconds in sub Saharan Africa. That means about 13 have died in the time you have read this post. Maybe 20 if you’re a slow reader. That’s someone’s child. Someone’s brother or sister. Someone’s grandson or granddaughter.
I’m not sharing all of this to depress you or to guilt you. I just want to share with you some of the reality I am seeing. I looked into those children’s eyes today. I met one of the pediatricians who cares for them. I talked to a big sister who was waiting for her brother to get malaria treatment. And I am more excited than ever about the Malaria Treatment Fund. I believe in it and I am behind it…with my money, with my time, with my heart. If I can help keep one of those children from dying, one of those mothers from having to say goodbye with the difference of a few dollars, I am in. If you in any way want to help financially, you can go here. To read more of Kelsey’s story, go here. Even if you can just give a dollar, that might mean the difference between affording treatment or not. Even if you can't, pray for solutions and wisdom to this treatable disease, and maybe share this with others so they can know too.
We wrapped up filming this weekend, and I promise to share the video as soon as I can. I cannot tell you the privilege it has been to just take part by watching this whole process. This is a story worth telling and worth supporting, which my dear friend Holly and Meagan and Kelsey are all helping to do. I love it. Along with the heaviness, there’s a joy…to get to be here and witness this, to get to see firsthand my brothers and sisters living and working here, to get to know a tiny bit of the reality which my Ugandan friends live with and to get to understand them a bit more, to have my heart burdened but also empowered, and to see the ways He is bringing His kingdom here on earth through malaria treatment and short films. Beautiful.