Christian is a strong, intelligent, young Zimbabwean man who just so happened to be born with a condition called clubfoot. With this condition, his feet essentially curve in on themselves. His condition was immediately obvious and his mother Iris, not one to sit idly by, jumped into action. Christian’s first few months were a flurry of progressive castings, physical therapy, and eventually a surgery when he was just five months old. Iris had thrown the entirety of her heart, soul, and finances into finding healing for her son, and it seemed as if her herculean effort had paid off.
For years after, Christian grew strong and playful. He learned to not only walk but also to play cricket and soccer with the neighborhood kids. He was the beating heart in the center of his loving family. So imagine the despair when his feet began to regress and curve in on themselves once more. Soon his feet became rigid and stuck in a clubbed position. Long gone were his days of carefree playing with his friends.
The thing with clubfoot in older children is that it is much more difficult to treat than it is in infants. And as is almost always the case, with increased difficulty comes an exponential increase in the cost of treatment. Iris was unemployed at this point in her life and the continual cost of treatment for Christian’s feet came at a price she simply couldn’t afford.
Doing their best with what they had, Iris bought Christian a pair of oversized shoes that could both fit and hide his now curved feet. They were embarrassing and clunky, but extraordinary times call for extraordinary creativity. In the meantime, Iris threw herself into researching treatment options. She found several hospitals around Zimbabwe and also in neighboring South Africa that advertised their ability to treat clubfoot, but when she reached out, they quoted her prices far higher than anything she could even hope of paying. For a loving mother, these continual rejections weighed heavy on her soul.
Despite the barrage of discouraging responses, Iris refused to give up. She expanded her net, and eventually, her perseverance paid off! She had reached out to a Kenyan clubfoot awareness organization who ended up telling her about the work being done at CURE Zambia just to the north of Zimbabwe.
Iris was told that Christian’s treatment would be free which was well within the amount she could afford – a cost that seemed too good to be true. She was skeptical, but it was Christian’s best shot at a better life and they took it. Iris and Christian packed their bags and made the long journey across Zimbabwe, crossing the border into Zambia, and up to the CURE hospital in Lusaka – Zambia’s capital city.
The CURE Zambia doctors confirmed they could correct Christian’s feet and that it would indeed be free. “I could not believe my ears and was so overwhelmed emotionally,” Iris remembers.
Over the next few months, Christian had several surgeries to both correct his feet to prevent the condition from reoccurring again in the future. For these procedures and the multitude of necessary follow up appointments, Christian and Iris had to make the long journey from Zimbabwe to Zambia many times. The trips were long and expensive, but Iris and Christian were strong and able to put together the money to cover the cost of each journey. Through their determination to make it to CURE Zambia for each and every appointment, Christian’s feet were eventually straightened, and he was able to return to his playful ways!
CURE estimates there are 370,000 children in Zimbabwe, just like Christian, who are unnecessarily suffering from treatable disabilities. The thing is while Christian and Iris fought hard for their healing, there are many more children for who even making the journey to CURE Zambia is unattainable – the multiple busses, the expensive tickets, the proper government papers, the logistics of international travel, the navigation of a country where you don’t speak the same language. There are thousands upon thousands of Zimbabwean children in dire need of treatment for whom this difficult trip to CURE Zambia is not possible. That is why, thanks to your involvement with CURE, we are able to open up CURE Zimbabwe – a children’s surgical hospital to get these children the treatment they need!
Join us as we begin to heal the sick and proclaim the kingdom of God in Zimbabwe.
Original Story by Joel Witwer at CURE.org