Meeting Medical Needs at Tenderfeet

Damaris Akinyi

Damaris was visited at home, where she was quite sick. Thankfully, funds were available for her clinic visit and medication. Damaris was soon feeling better

Have you ever saved a life?  Unless you are a health care, law enforcement, or rescue professional, it’s unlikely you’ve even had the opportunity.

But as a Tenderfeet donor, you may be surprised to know that you have, in fact, been very much instrumental in saving not just one, but many, lives.

This is accomplished because the Tenderfeet project has multiple missions.

Of course, Tenderfeet is first and foremost a school. As such, it seeks to serve the needy children of the slums by providing a strong foundation for the future through education.

But Tenderfeet is just as much a family, and we strive to ensure that each child is properly cared for and loved.

That means that each child also remains healthy in body, mind, and spirit. In particular, we cannot claim to care about a student without intervening in situations where the child is ill or in need of medical care.

Over the years, many of the children of Tenderfeet have faced medical challenges, some small and some overwhelming.

Each challenge is handled by the Tenderfeet staff in a way specially suited to that child’s unique situation.

The role of the Tenderfeet Foundation and all of the donors is to try to partner with the staff in Kenya by providing the financial resources necessary to help the children suffering from a medical problem.

Some children can be assisted just from the medical and emergency fund (approximately $50 per month). This enables us to take children to the local clinics, then later purchase antibiotics or other prescriptions (in more severe and expensive cases, special fundraisers and donations are required).

Gillian Adhiambo

Gillian's leg was badly burned. Through Tenderfeet she got proper burn treatment. The severity of her scar shows how serious her situation was

Every month, children come down with colds, the flu, ear infections, as well as malaria. The treatment and medication is often provided by the medical fund.

Typically, children with these problems are in a great deal of pain but their guardians are not able to afford proper treatment. Usually, for as little as $1, $5, or $10, the problem can be treated quickly and effectively.

Without the medical fund, the child would continue to suffer as the guardians watched helplessly, unable to pay for a simple prescription.

For example, during a recent home visit, Damaris Akinyi was feeling extremely sick and running a high fever.  Left untreated, her suffering would be needlessly extended and her condition might develop into something critical.

For less than $10, she was taken to the clinic, given medicine, and recovered quickly.

If not treated, a common illness — as in Damaris’ situation — can worsen and develop into very dangerous and acute problems like pneumonia.

It’s not unusual for children and their guardians in the Kenyan slums to succumb to untreated pneumonia, tuberculosis, and malaria, with thousands each year dying a heartbreaking and needless death.  Sadly, in just this past year, complications from pneumonia claimed the young lives of two former Tenderfeet students, as well as four Tenderfeet guardians.

Shadrack leaves the hospital

Shadrack leaves the hospital following his brain surgery

Another category of problems are especially difficult to deal with, and those are severe cases like burns. Since most families in the slums cook on charcoal stoves directly on the floor, it’s a sad but all-too-familiar tragedy that a pot of boiling water is spilled on a child.

The resulting burns are terribly serious and require long-term treatment and attention by qualified professionals.  Most poor families are not able to pay for the proper amount of treatment, and the consequences can be dire.

Several children at Tenderfeet have received assistance for burns and other severe accidents, thanks to the emergency fund.  Even as this article is written, a student named Edwin Bosire is getting proper dressings for his burns because of Tenderfeet donors.

We also have extraordinary challenges that require major surgery, and because of the expense, we must rely on special fundraisers and donations that are especially generous.

This includes cases like that of Shadrack Otieno, who has undergone two essential brain operations (in 2007 and 2010).  In both cases, he had a life-threatening brain abscess that required immediate surgery.

Another child whose life has been in the balance is Lucy Thama.  Paralyzed from the waist down since a very young age, Lucy has required three significant operations over the past 4 years.

Each time, it’s quite possible Lucy would not have survived without the procedure.  Each time, she was in the hospital for several weeks, but Lucy is amazingly resilient and always bounces back with a big smile on her face.  And like the other children mentioned, her family could never have afforded the medical care she required without help from Tenderfeet sponsors.

We are so deeply grateful to all the donors who have made it possible for Damaris, Gillian, Edwin, Shadrack, and Lucy — and countless 0thers like them — to receive the vital medical care they required.

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