Achu: A story of hope
On my trip to Tenwek Hospital in southwest Kenya, I met a beautiful girl with an amazing story.
Not So Normal
Achu is 15 years old. Most girls her age are busy trying to fit in. Boys. Makeup. Clothes. All in the effort to be normal. Achu, on the other hand, has lived anything but the life of a normal teenage girl.
She injured her left leg approximately 1 year ago. She was wrestling with a friend around a water well. Her foot got caught and she broke her leg. When the bone broke, the ends of it pushed through the skin causing an open wound.
Achu dragged herself home and then sat and waited, hoping to heal. All of the circumstances of her life were against her ever recovering from this injury. She was born in a place where healthcare is limited. Her father is an alcoholic. Her mother is dead. Her stepmother could not afford to get her the care she needed.
The biggest concern with an open fracture is infection. The typical treatment is antibiotics as quickly as possible followed by a thorough cleaning in surgery within 24 hours. Since Achu was born in Sudan, none of these things happened.
Infection set in.
The accident was unfortunate, but for her it was quickly becoming the incident that would end her life.
Needing an Advocate
Eventually her leg healed enough that she could walk, though painfully and slow. The hole, however, never healed. For over 1 year she had a large, infected piece of bone protruding from her leg.
The injury and subsequent infection affected both her body and her soul. She became very weak and emaciated. She also bore the guilt of being a burden to her family. Every member of the family was needed to help keep everyone fed. Eventually she worked to do her expected chores, fighting through the pain.
There was a time when she made it to a local hospital. Like many hospitals in the area there are too many patients and too few doctors. The only way to be seen is if you have an advocate to speak out on your behalf. Achu had no one. She sat there 2 months without ever being seen or treated.
Then she tried a medical clinic run by an American medical mission team. She ran into the same problem. The lines were longer there than at the Toy Story ride at Disney World.
At the end of the busy day, people were told to go home because no more patients could be seen. As the crowd dispersed, Achu laid where she was, unable to move. And then, for the first time, someone noticed her.
She was brought into the clinic to be examined. The wound was covered with a dirty rag which had probably not been changed for quite some time. She appeared very ill. Everyone recognized the severity of her problem. Eventually plans were made to have her sent here to Tenwek to be treated.
Today, Achu is getting better. She has had surgery on her leg to remove the dead infected bone. She still has a wound, but this is being treated with multiple therapies daily. She still needs prayer that her wound would completely heal and that new bone would fill in the gap.
(You can read more about the details of this part of the story at Kimberly Smith’s blog. The initial screening was performed by Make Way Partners, and I thank them for their efforts. Many of the arrangements were funded by Randy Alcorn and External Perspective Ministry’s. Once she arrived here, Dr. Galat, staff orthopedic surgeon at Tenwek, took over her care which you can read more about on his blog.)
To me, the most beautiful part of her story is that of hope. One month prior, Achu started attending a local church, praying specifically that God would heal her. She found an advocate in God.
The God who sees and knows and loves.
We rarely understand what she is saying. But when we pass by this small, frail girl in the corner of the pediatric ward on morning rounds, her smile tells us much more than any translator could.
Today Achu has hope.
A hope for her leg to be “normal” again. A hope for life. A hope in God.
Although it will be a miracle to see her healed, the most amazing miracle is that God knows her. That he sees her need. That he loves her.
This is the miracle that is too much for me to comprehend.
A Reason to Hope
Even when this little girl had no one else on this earth to take care of her, she put her hope in God.
Even when all seemed lost and that her injury would be the end of her life, she put her hope in God.
Even in what seemed to be the cruelest of fates, she put her hope in God.
Achu is anything but normal. She has hope because of who she is. The daughter of the living God. The child of the King.
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” (1 John 3:1 ESV)
Do you have a hope like Achu? Leave a comment here.