Malawi (MNN) ― Most communities in the developing world shun children with disabilities. Fear and suspicion surround the child and family.
However, when families bring their cured children home to the village, a lot changes--not only the attitudes, but also the stereotypes surrounding the disability. The culture of some of these areas can be brutal to children who are born with something like clubfoot.
CURE International is working through compassion, love and hope to open a future to them. Given all the promise that comes with a cure, the question can be asked, "Why would a child not show up for surgery?"
This came to light recently in Malawi, where a patient didn't arrive for his surgery. It prompted many questions and an understanding of cultural relevance. CURE's Joel Worrall says there are many reasons why a child might not make his scheduled appointment.
Some are practical. "A family who's living off the land, and they're living several hundred kilometers from where the hospital is: there could be a circumstance where because of the nature of what they're doing with agriculture, they could just decide ‘Nope. We're not going to the hospital this week.'"
Others are fueled by affluence. "There are other circumstances where cost of travel comes into play. That's part of the reason why we're so intentional about mobile clinics and trying to make sure that we arrange things so that people make sure that they do meet their appointments."
And still more, the cultural relevance. "Another thing can really be superstitious issues that happen to exist inside a village." Worrall explains that understanding the condition plays a huge role in seeking treatment. "It's a big step for a family to have shown up at a mobile clinic and they meet somebody who tells them, ‘Your kid's condition is not a curse. Your kid's condition is a curable condition that we can address at our hospital.'"
Sometimes, a family gets a glimmer of hope that dispels fear, but in going back to their village, elders insinuate that the doctors were lying or spread rumors about safety issues in the hospital. "That's part of the reason that our counseling ministry is so important," Worrall says. "We try to reinforce truth with these people that ‘this isn't too good to be true. This actually is something that we're going to be able to do, and we're acting on behalf of Jesus Christ.'"
CURE sends out staff who understands the local context and its challenges. "For us, the idea of changing hearts and lives, of convincing parents that this is the right thing to do for their kids, in those circumstances where someone does walk away from treatment, I think that making that a matter of prayer is definitely something that people can do as well."
Aside from funding, there is another thing for which CURE seeks partners. "Prayer is at the center of everything we do as an organization. I believe in the power of using the technology that we have at our hands to help connect people closer and broaden the circle of prayer for a particular person."