One of the themes of Christmas is Joy. In this part of the world where I am over Christmas, being joyful is not something that comes to my mind especially in the hospital where a small group of us are working to improve the outcome of our surgery program.
As I travel on this bumpy, dusty road, I look out to see not much of any Christmas decorations. Women walking miles to get clean water, young girls carrying firewood. Little boys rolling old tires for toys in tattered clothing. At the hospital, the situation is not great. Doctors and nurses are doing the best with what they have. Most cannot afford to pay and the hospital has to do what they can to save lives.
I walk through the hospital’s maternity ward and see three newborn baby girls. I have some cute dresses sewn by elderly ladies from Canada with me, and a blanket. Thousands of miles away, a senior lady has taken the time to make a gift for someone that she will never meet. The mother is delighted to get this gift, and it seems like the only new thing around this baby.
As I go about my day, Bernard, local Physiotherapist who works with us, introduces me to Furaha.
He tells me the incredible story of how this little girl was unable to walk and simply sat around the house watching other children play and go to school. A few years ago, he discovered her and convinced the parents to let her come to the ABW-operated rehab centre. She underwent surgery, is gradually starting to walk, and is attending school right next to our rehab centre. She tells me how happy she is that she can be with other children her age and soon will be able to take part in all the activities that they do.
She is so happy, not for toys and dolls, but for the simple fact that she can walk and not crawl on the dirt yard.
Furaha in Swahili means “joy.” Joyful she is. I am joyful for her. I see that joy comes from seeing other people being joyful. Joy is contagious.
I think joy comes from giving. I thank the hundreds of people who have given so generously and brought joy to thousands of children and people all over the world.
I am experiencing the Furaha of Christmas here in Africa and thanking all of you for it.
Eric Rajah, Co-founder
A Better World Canada