As she was being wheeled out of the surgery theater her drowsy eyes opened lazily and closed again. It had been a three and a half hour operation and I must admit it was the longest time I have waited for a patient. Among all the many children who have been admitted in hospitals in Kenya from our anti-trafficking network and then later went through home care in the Nairobi safe house, Martha is the only one over 18 years old.
Martha was born 22 years ago in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan. Her father died in 2005 of an “unknown disease” and her mother died in 2016 due to a liver complication.
In a nation where it is more likely for a thirteen year old to die in child birth than to learn to read and write, Martha’s family stands in a uniquely supportive role. First her parents and now her older brothers have championed and encouraged Martha to go after her goals and finish her education. However, as an orphan and with few schools in her region, she was only able to get as far as grade 8.
Historically, the Nuba Mountains has relied heavily on NGOs or non-profit organizations that employ foreign teachers from Uganda and Kenya to teach in primary and secondary schools. However, when the war broke out and the UN base in Kauda (a main village) was closed all of the NGOs evacuated their staff and left the people of the Nuba Mountains with little to no support at all*. Among the sectors that were badly affected was education and healthcare.
It is no wonder then that with only a primary school certificate, Martha received a chance to teach grade 4 at Our Father’s Cleft (OFC). She was one of the most qualified in the region!
It was in this role as a teacher that Martha’s compassion for the children and interest and passion in volunteering and teaching was noticed. And, it was because of this ‘spark’ that Martha was sent out of the Nuba Mountains and enrolled in a boarding school in Uganda to complete her secondary (high school) education in 2017. At that time there were still very limited secondary schools in the Nuba Mountains.
A few months after admission, Martha joined the school’s sports team and within a year she represented the school in most sports activities. She became accomplished in athletics; especially, volleyball and netball. Martha was always the student depended on for bringing medals to the school in the zonal competitions. Unfortunately, during one of the volleyball competitions in August 2019, Martha fell and hurt her elbow. The sports teacher provided first aid but because he did not want to lose the game he put her back in the matchup.
Martha was under great pain and needed immediate attention. However, it was not until 5 days later that LUV was notified of her condition. We arranged for immediate medical attention for Martha in Uganda and a cast was put on her arm. After 4 weeks the cast was removed and Martha was put on another 8 weeks of physiotherapy. At the end of 2019, LUV closed the safe house in Uganda and moved all of the children living there back to Hope For South Sudan in order to attend a local high school—including Martha.
It was during my recent visit to Hope for South Sudan that I found Martha in extreme pain. Her arm could not stretch, bend, and therefore she could not even move her wrist and hand for writing. No specialists were available in the entire nation of South Sudan and so with the help of a generous family in Alabama, LUV was able to medevacuate Martha to Kenya for further medical examination—unknowingly, just days before the coronavirus pandemic restricted all flights!
Upon review, the x-ray revealed a capitellum fracture—a rare elbow injury. There was also a bone fragment which was in her flesh. Sadly, the doctor who attended to her in Uganda did a terrible job. This new development broke my heart. Martha’s required surgery would be more complicated than I thought to restore normalcy to the arm and hand.
A few weeks ago, Martha went through surgery at Kikuyu Orthopedics Hospital in Kenya. The operation was successful but she will take more time in Kenya to attend to all the clinics and checkups as the doctor may advice. Martha needs your prayers as she goes through this difficult time of physical therapy.
Martha shared with me,
“I appreciate the help from LUV. Without LUV I could not have seen the doors of a high school. I will be putting all supporters in prayer because I have nothing else I can give. I also promise to help the vulnerable children in Nuba Mountains when I finish my schooling.’’
Martha’s promise to return to serve the vulnerable in her community is an exciting example of why LUV invests in long-term, local solutions and the power of our anti-trafficking network.
*Earlier I shared that foreigners were often hired in Sudan and South Sudan to provide much needed services because there aren’t trained locals in these regions. This model can be useful for the short term but is unhelpful in the long-run because when war erupts foreigners leave and all services they offered end.
It is why Lift Up the Vulnerable’s investment in indigenous partnerships are so important and why Martha is a prime example of the multiplying effects of lifting up, investing in, and empowering change-agents from within warzones.
When Martha completes her high school (now through Hope For South Sudan) she will return to Nuba and serve as a compassionate and trained leader at Our Father’s Cleft—and through her, even more children and women will be lifted up with Christ’s Love!
Give the Gift of LUV today in honor of Martha and help us invest in more lives just like hers in Sudan and South Sudan! Your generosity is transforming the world with LUV.
Partners in Christ,
Chief Program Officer