Thousands running free from clubfoot

Every month, in 18 countries, our 330 clubfoot clinics receive over 6,000 visits from children who have been afflicted with clubfoot. Congenital clubfoot is the most common birth defect of the musculoskeletal system and is estimated to affect nearly 1 in every 750 births worldwide. In many low- and middle-income countries, treatment is unavailable, and these children face a lifetime of disability.

Thankfully, a relatively inexpensive treatment is available. The gold standard of clubfoot treatment, the Ponseti method, can be broken down into three phases: casting, tenotomy, and bracing. Over the first six-to-eight weeks, the child is brought to our clinic on a weekly basis, where a new cast is placed from their toes to their hip. The Ponseti method relies on frequent manipulation to bring the foot and ankle into proper alignment. Once significant correction has been obtained, a procedure called a tenotomy is performed where the Achilles tendon is severed and a final cast is applied for three weeks.

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How did I get here?!

Three weeks after I landed in Zambia I found myself sleeping on the ground in a tent in the bush with 40 other people and no electricity or cell service.

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How did I get here?!

Arriving in Zambia was a whirlwind; I’m not sure I would say that I’m fully “settled” even now. After being here for 2 weeks, a group of college students arrived and brought all kinds of crazy to the guesthouse and the hospital. They came with so much energy and excitement! They made me feel old and tired, but I was encouraged by them every day they were here. When the CURE U teams are here in the summer they join a busload of Zambians and head out into the village for a week to do outreach through a local church. This time, I joined them. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Sure, I’ve been to the bush in Africa before, but for this particular trip, I had no knowledge of what was in store. Where were we going? How long would we be there? What should I take? What would we be doing? These are questions I didn’t ask. Instead, I just went along for the ride and allowed the questions to be answered along the way.

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Where did we go? Somewhere in southern Zambia, on a 1.5 hour bus ride on dirt roads outside of a village called Kalomo, about 8 hours from Lusaka.

How long were we there? Five days.

What did I take? Only what could fit into a small backpack; One change of clothes. Some soap. A water bottle. A sweatshirt for the freezing nights. And, of course, a camera.

What did we do? All kinds of things. Our mornings started at 5am when we were awoken by the prayers of the saints, praying for the people of the village and singing praises to the one true God! Next was breakfast, then gathering for a group devotion and usually some singing (one of my favorite things about the week). Then we were divided into teams to go throughout the village and share the hope of Jesus in local homes. Our teams usually consisted of a few men and women from the area, a pastor who spoke the language, and a couple of CURE U students. We would meet back for lunch, then afternoon programs would begin. Classes for married couples, new believers, children, prayer, and more consumed the afternoons. By the time dinner rolled around there were usually 100+ people in attendance! In the evenings, either a showing of the Jesus film or a worship service took place.

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The questions I often get asked after a mission trip or when working in vocational ministry of some sort usually consist of, “So, what were the effects of the week? How did it change you? How did it change the village? What did God do?”

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Honestly, I don’t know the answers yet. Being able to answer those questions is not the reason I went. There are so many times that the Lord asks us to do things – not so that we can see the fruit of our work in our own lives or in the lives of others – he simply asks for our obedience. He asks us to follow him with great faith and sometimes we never fully understand why. Sometimes we never get to see the fruit. I think this is called “dying to ourselves”; it’s a continual growing process for me. My prayer is that the week we spent in the village would bring glory to our Lord, that his name would be praised in that village, that the people would not remember us, but remember the things the Lord did, and that I would learn to follow Jesus wherever he leads me, even into the village.

Mead Minutes: A journey around CURE

bottles of gasoline in Niger

bottles of gasoline in Niger

Good morning from Niger! I completed my last walk about the neighborhood in Niamey — for now, at least. The markets even had a few sheep for sale, although I did not notice anyone interested in buying one. I guess after the costs of Eid, the price asked is not possible. Now the standard shops with fruit, vegetables, and roasted meats dominate the markets. Along the road are displays containing old bottles filled with greenish and brown fluids. These bottles are filled with gasoline; the darker ones have oil mixed within. Motorcycle drivers make a quick stop, pick their flavor, buy a liter, and zoom off once again. Walking back through the residential areas I greet many, many young kids. Bon Jour!

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What could an accomplished neurosurgeon learn from CURE Uganda?

You might say that Dr. Rees Cosgrove, former chair of Brown University’s neurosurgery department, had a good visit to CURE Uganda.

“My experience at CURE Uganda restored my faith in the power, generosity, and goodness of the human spirit,” Dr. Cosgrove remarked.

Not a bad outcome for a week in central Africa.

Rees Cosgrove

Dr. Rees Cosgrove

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CURE on the radio

CURE has always been about “healing the sick and proclaiming the Kingdom of God.” This week we get to do both in a truly innovative way through the nationwide launch of The Brant Hansen Show.

Brant previously hosted shows on two of the largest Christian radio networks in the country. When he joined CURE as our first-ever Storyteller, radio stations took notice and a crazy idea was born.

“We’re doing a syndicated radio show. And the whole point, for me, is to give people a glimpse of the Kingdom of God,” Brant says. “And many will get to see it through CURE.”

The Brant Hansen ShowIn addition to the show, this arrangement provides CURE with the opportunity to share the stories of the kids and families we serve via commercials that will air on all of the syndicated radio stations.

“This is a way to let a lot of people know about CURE. We’ve got a unique arrangement with stations to accomplish this. It’s a win-win-win-win-type thing. We get the platform to tell people about Jesus, listeners get to find out about the Kingdom and CURE, and the kids we serve, we hope, will be healed.”

The Brant Hansen Show begins airing nationwide today. To find a time and station you can tune in or stream, check out the station list at branthansen.com/stations.

Off to a good start in the Philippines

As we prepare to open the Tebow CURE hospital, we are working to build awareness about our services. To accomplish this, we are promoting the start of our clinics by working with some likeminded partners here in the southern Philippines. One of these organizations is Seeds of Dignity Ministries, an organization that does some amazing work, including programs for persons with disabilities. They were kind enough to invite our team to visit a community in Santo Tomas, Davao Del Sur. We were able to identify some future patients for the hospital and helped distribute five wheelchairs to local residents!

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Meet Cherry Balobo, one of the recipients of a wheelchair. When you look at her, she looks like she is hardly 10 years old, but she is actually a 24-year-old woman with a fragile body. She suffers from dwarfism and also has clubfoot. We prayed with her and her mother and saw that she was teary-eyed after our prayer. Her mother works as the laundrywoman and is away from home most of the time. She is very happy and thankful to have received a wheelchair, because it will alleviate her pain from carrying Cherry all the time. Now she can bring Cherry out to enjoy the sun and meet people outside the confines of her room.

We also met Romeo, a 51-year-old with cerebral palsy. His condition hasn’t slowed him down much – he is a chess champion! – but he does need some help when it comes to mobility. He was very excited the night before we came; he had been longing for a wheelchair for a very long time, and he thought it was just an elusive dream. But God’s word says that God gives us the desires of our heart and that in His perfect time, He makes all things beautiful for us. This is what happened for Romeo.

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He is very happy and thankful to finally have his own wheelchair. His eyes were beaming with joy; now he can go places without someone needing to carry him. He is doubly excited to go to church and worship Jesus.

Healing through henna

We had a henna party at CURE today.

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Henna is a plant that is commonly used to make a dye here in Niger and around the world. The leaves are crushed into a powder and mixed with water to make a kind of paste which is then applied to the skin, leaving a long-term (but temporary) tattoo. Here in Niger, women get henna tattoos for every possible celebration: a wedding, a baptism, a holiday, for any kind of party, and sometimes, I suspect, for no real reason at all, other than the fact that it is beautiful.

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Field trip for some, life-change for others

We recently had an outreach trip to Kiota, a village 80 miles away from the capital city of Niger.

Our group consisted of a doctor, pastors, nurses, and a few other staff members. We had one goal: to show Christ’s love through the explanation that there could be healing for many of the disabilities that had hindered them in the past.

It was a long day. We met at the hospital at 6 am, and after two hours of driving through paved and sand roads, we arrived to over 100 people waiting for us. Unfortunately, many of them had conditions that we could not treat, such as dermatological issues, glaucoma, or elderly people who had general pain. We had a nurse who screened and organized people to make sure the doctor would have time to see the cases that could be treated at CURE.

Even on the midst of the crowd we could feel the village lifestyle: people taking time to talk to each other, making food right on the spot, and, especially, saying thank you over and over to each of us for coming out and caring for them. For us it was only a field trip, but for those born with treatable conditions, it was the beginning of a life-changing journey. »Read the rest of this entry

CURE In the News: Week of October 5th, 2014

CURE International

FutureStack14 Day 2 Keynotes Focus on Giving Back” from New Relic

Mead Minutes: Because these kids need us all

Good morning from Niger! The past week, as I walked the different neighborhoods surrounding the CURE Niger hospital, I found there to be a feeling of emptiness. Gone were the numerous flocks of sheep. Gone were the sellers of knives and machetes. Gone were the young men selling different piles of spices and wood. Walking along, I noted the occasional signs of previous activity. Along the red, dusty roads were scattered ashes, remnants of fodder, a curved horn here, a jaw bone there, and occasionally a pile of some rather foul smelling green stuff I did not explore further. Eid has come and gone. Life goes on. »Read the rest of this entry