BENEFITING: Global Health Innovations
Dear Friends and Family,
I have made a commitment to climb Mt Kilimanjaro again in July of 2017 to raise money for Pothawira (save Haven) (the women and children’s healthcare center in Malawi that I co-founded with my parents) and Child Legacy’s clean water climb ministry. I was talking to a woman who conquered the climb last year and she told me that this was the hardest thing she had ever done and that it was even harder than child birth. Imagine how frightening that must sound to a woman like myself who has gone through a natural child birth with no pain medications and has since found no other pain that compares to the pain of childbirth.
Despite my fear of failure, my fear of pain and hardship, I have decided to climb that mountain to raise money for my fellow Malawians who are dealing with hardships daily due to severe poverty and lack of resources that prevent them from being able to have the basic needs of life including clean water to drink and access to good healthcare.
As most of you already know, I grew up in a small village outside of Salima, Malawi called Thonje. Our family experienced firsthand the challenges of living in remote villages where poverty prevails and opportunity to escape it is almost nonexistent. I often felt forgotten and was certain no one else in the world knew we were there and needed help. I almost lost my young sister when she was 2 after drinking the contaminated water we carried on our heads from the rivers and brought home. The nearest hospital that could provide healthcare was over thirty miles away. With no modern means of transport, my parents carried her on their back when she was near dead and rode a bicycle all night to reach the healthcare center. Luckily, she lived, and in fact climbed Kilimanjaro in 2014 for that reason.
I am beyond grateful for the gift that was given to me through education by an American ER physician, Donna Ivey, who came to Malawi for a short term medical missions and decided to give a scholarship to a village girl, who once felt forgotten, to pursue her dream to become a doctor in the United States of America. I am now living my dream as a Gynecologic Oncologist for Houston Methodist Hospital, and able to give back to my country and my people. I co-founded Pothawira (Safe Haven) Christian Organization, in Salima, Malawi. Pothawira has an orphanage with 126 children with 12 mommas, a school with over 300 children, and a women and children’s healthcare center which sees over 200 patients a day, who would otherwise have no access to healthcare.
On a recent trip to Malawi, I saw a woman who came to one of the local district hospitals in labor but needed an urgent C-section because she had previous C-sections and was at risk of her uterus rupturing, which could be catastrophic to her and her unborn child. For several hours the woman laid on a gurney outside the C-section room screaming with pain but could not have the needed surgery because the hospital had lost electricity and the backup generator had no fuel. She ended up with a ruptured uterus, massive bleeding, and a dead baby in her abdomen. I also visited the pediatric ward which was filled with children dying from malaria, malnutrition and dehydration associated with gastrointestinal disease from drinking contaminated water. The worst part is knowing similar stories are happening to many women and children all over Malawi. I found myself wondering how I survived living there and how my mother survived delivering 8 children under such conditions.
The continued suffering of my friends and family in Malawi has fueled my desire to take this challenge. I am willing to undergo the difficult experience of climbing Kilimanjaro because I want to see more children in Malawi grow up to be adults and become future leaders of our country instead of dying as infants and toddlers from lack of access to basic needs of life like clean water, food, and good healthcare. I want to climb Kilimanjaro for every child in our orphanage, and every child in Malawi who has lost a mother in childbirth because of lack of access to a safe delivery facility. I want to climb Kilimanjaro for every bucket of contaminated water I carried on my head home, while living in Thonje, and for every little girl in Malawi still doing that today. I want to climb Kilimanjaro to get close enough to heaven and thank God for sparing my mother’s life during childbirth at that same hospital, where I saw the woman with a ruptured uterus deliver a dead baby. I want to climb Kilimanjaro to thank God for the gift of the United States of America, which has allowed a village girl like myself to live her dream and be able to go back to her country and help her people, who are still living in the same conditions she did.
I am asking you all to join me as I embark on this challenge of participating in Child Legacy’s annual Mt. Kilimanjaro Clean Water Climb with other people. I want to raise $50,000 for clean water and for the women and children’s healthcare center at Pothawira. One child dies every 30seconds in Malawi from malaria. A rapid malaria test at $1 allows early diagnosis and treatment. Imagine how many lives will be saved. I once heard someone say “women and children are dying in third world countries not because the world doesn’t know, but because the world has yet to decide what their lives are worth.” What a tough truth for a village girl like myself who was once destined for the same outcome.
Please join me in deciding today that like mine, their lives are worth more and worth saving one person at a time. This is a win-win for me to help my fellow Malawians have access to clean water and good healthcare.