Tragic News About Shadrack

Shadrack in September 2007

Shadrack in September 2007

I was contacted by Mama Margaret early this morning with some terrible and heart-wrenching news.

Our precious friend and little brother, Shadrack Otieno, had passed away.  He was thirteen years old.

Late last week, Shadrack was having trouble with headaches and was taken to the hospital.

The situation became increasingly more and more severe, and at that point he was transferred to Kijabe hospital (the same hospital where he was treated last year).

He was scheduled for surgery this morning, but passed away before he reached the operating room.

We are all in shock at this news, it was so sudden and painful.

It’s been almost four years to the day since his first brain surgery.  It’s been just about one year since his second brain surgery.

Shadrack had been doing well, and had been showing progress with the physical therapy routine he was undergoing to regain his ability to walk after the stroke he suffered after last year’s brain surgery.

Few children have endured more than Shadrack, yet he brightened the lives of everyone he encountered.

Despite his severe physical challenges, mainly with multiple brain abscesses, Shadrack was fortunate in one respect.

He was uplifted by the love and dedication of Mama Margaret, who became a guardian and mother to him when his family left him in 2007.  Shadrack was also blessed by dear friends from around the world who have contributed to his medical fund.

I always tell the story of the time when I first got in contact with Margaret.  In an email, I asked if she needed any financial help for the school.  I was thinking maybe she needed something like $20 for pencils and crayons.

Imagine my surprise when she said that she had an orphan boy in her school who was having seizures, bleeding from the ears and nose, with unbearable headaches and desperately in need of brain surgery.   The surgery itself would cost thousands of dollars and Tenderfeet had about zero donors at that time.

I didn’t know it then, but while she was telling me about Shadrack, the school itself was barely surviving.  It had been evicted a few months prior for the inability to pay $100 rent, and would be evicted again soon thereafter.

So without a thought of her own critical financial needs and with Tenderfeet barely able to stay open, Margaret instead chose to focus all energies on saving Shadrack. This is the kind of selfless and caring person she is.

A few months later, the funds were raised through a miraculous offering at Cornerstone Methodist Church in Houston.  It was a humbling and awe-inspiring exhibition of God’s love and mercy, working through a faithful church body.

This same compassion was demonstrated numerous times since then through the actions of groups and individuals that came to the rescue when Shadrack needed help.

Shadrack and Mama Margaret in the hospital in early 2010

Shadrack and Mama Margaret in the hospital in early 2010. The drainage tube was attached prior to his second brain surgery.

Shadrack was a lively and happy boy.  He liked to introduce himself as “Shadrack Meshach Abednego Otieno”.

Though he had academic limitations due to his brain condition, he was very bright in his own way.

He could speak English and Swahili, as well as his tribal Luo language.  He loved music and to sing songs. Be sure to watch the video of him above singing his favorite song with Mama Margaret.

Shadrack attended a special school called Treeside for a few years, where he learned life skills in addition to a basic academic curriculum.  He loved being at Treeside, and the staff there told me he was a great friend to the other children.

In fact, I was delighted when he told me his dream of someday being a pilot.  He wanted to fly his plane over the school and drop candy on all the children below.

Although he never achieved his dream exactly as it was planned, I still feel like he is still looking down lovingly on all his friends from above.


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