On the 20th of July a young African woman, Ma Sireh Bojang, accompanied by her cousin Lamin Bojang will leave her village in The Gambia for the first time to travel more than 6,000km to Kenya, for a meeting with destiny and heart surgery to save her life.
This, for her, is a continuation of a journey that began over five years ago when she was diagnosed with rheumatic heart disease, a condition that – without corrective surgery – would mean an early death. It was eighteen months ago, when Lamin introduced me to Ma Sireh and her condition with a request for help that I joined in her journey.
This journey, while intimidating for them having never travelled; it is far less than the challenge faced by her Ma Sireh and her family since she was diagnosed. This surgery is not available in The Gambia and the cost and means to access this surgery in another country was beyond the reach for a family, who like so many Gambians, live in poverty.
Through the kindness of a doctor friend and a surgeon in Toronto I was introduced to Tenwek Hospital, operated by a Christian community in Bomet, Kenya. Tenwek is one of the few hospitals in Africa recognized for cardiac surgery and their Chief Surgeon Dr. Russell White, is also a Professor of Surgery at Brown University in Rhode Island. He corresponded with me directly to evaluate her case and at the end of May we were ecstatic when he sent confirmation that surgery was scheduled for the 25th of July.
This next phase of our journey has been made possible through the kindness of strangers to Ma Sireh from a number of countries who had enough confidence in me to respond to my request for financial support. Through a GoFundMe Internet campaign, and personal contributions from people in my hometown of Corner Brook, NL enough funds have been raised to cover the surgery and some of the travel. Flights have been booked, with the help of Frances Drover, President of the Humber Corner Brook Rotary Club, which has endorsed and embraced this very worthwhile humanitarian endeavour.
In a world which appears in turmoil and destruction, this is one indication of the human kindness that exists in the world and amongst people at great distances. Some would suggest that it is minuscule in the context of what is needed, but for Ma Sireh it is surely a gift of grace. Her journey will take her to an unknown world and her surgery was beyond her belief just a few months ago.
All this has been possible by the compassion of ordinary people who cared enough to help and the medical specialists at Tenwek who devote their time and great talent to assist those less fortunate through a hospital devoted to the care of the sick and injured; certainly not to profit.
The world is full of such human and spiritual kindnesses, unfortunately like so many other examples, the life of a young woman in a village in The Gambia and the gifts of ordinary people are eclipsed by the sensational visible negative actions of so few.
Please take a moment over the next few weeks to share a thought for Ma Sireh, say a prayer or pass on a spiritual feeling from your heart that all will be well and that her life will be transformed by the precious gifts from those who care.