Published by josh-korn

Finding Hope in Niger, Part IV

Hope v 6

This post is the conclusion of our four-part “Hope” series. The story behind the healing journey of a family from Niger is told by Josh Korn, one of the Spiritual Directors at CURE Niger.

When you really boil it down, hope is one of the central messages of the whole Bible. It is a peculiar type of hope that is hopeful in the face of despair. It is unflinching hope that is aware of the very bad things that are happening, and aware of the chance that even worse things are on the way. But through it all there is still hope. Impossible, unbelievable hope.

When hope is impossible and unbelievable, we sometimes call it faith.

Faith means believing that God can do something even though there is nothing to be done. When you are in the position of Job’s friends, this seems very silly. Maybe even irresponsible. If up is up and down is down, then you must have done something to end up so far down and should do something else to get back up. But we forget sometimes that this is an attitude of privilege. Not all can afford to think this way. Only those who don’t face problems, or who face problems but have the means to make the problems go away, can view difficulties in terms of “do” and “undo.” For the majority of the earth’s population, the problems are always there and do not go away.

Read the rest of this entry »

Finding Hope in Niger, Part III

Hope v 6

This post is the third of four in the “Hope” series, which will be released through the month of February. The story behind the healing journey of a family from Niger is told by Josh Korn, one of the Spiritual Directors at CURE Niger.

Hadiza still had hope for Saratou, but she never actively looked for a hospital or clinic where she could be treated. Hadiza knew that even if she took Saratou to the hospital and she could be healed, she would never be able to pay for it. But one day, she heard about the CURE hospital in Niamey on the radio. The voice on the radio described the different conditions that are treated at the hospital, and they described Saratou’s condition. They called it cleft lip. Hadiza had never heard of cleft lip, but the way they spoke about the condition convinced her it was the same as Saratou’s lip. It was as though they were talking about Saratou herself.

After she heard about CURE on the radio, Hadiza decided to take Saratou to Niamey. They came even though they didn’t know where the hospital was and didn’t know if what the radio said was true. Even on the way to the hospital, children in Niamey saw Saratou and started calling her names. She went to fight them, but Hadiza held her back.

Read the rest of this entry »

Finding Hope in Niger, Part II

Hope v 6

This post is the second of four in the “Hope” series, which will be released through the month of February. The story behind the healing journey of a family from Niger is told by Josh Korn, one of the Spiritual Directors at CURE Niger.

We hear it over and over again. Almost every patient we talk to at the hospital tells us the same thing. Their disability is seen as a curse. It is something terrible and unfortunate that has happened to them, but also something for which they feel responsible. In many cultures, having a disability is viewed as a sign that you must have done something wrong; you must have somehow invited it upon yourself. If it wasn’t you, then it must have been your parents. Sometimes people say it is a curse from an evil spirit; sometimes they say it is a curse from God. But either way, they are saying that if you have a disability, it is your fault.

Even though every single one of us knows that bad things happen to good people, something in our soul fights against this idea. We persist in believing that the good are rewarded and the bad are punished, in spite of all evidence to the contrary. And if this is true, then we understandably come to the conclusion, even if it is a subconscious conclusion, that suffering is punishment, and if you are being punished then you must deserve it.

After all, if there is smoke, there must be fire.

Read the rest of this entry »

Finding Hope in Niger, Part I

Hope v 6

This post is the first of four in the “Hope” series, which will be released through the month of February. The story behind the healing journey of a family from Niger is told by Josh Korn, one of the Spiritual Directors at CURE Niger.

Hadiza had a daughter named Salama. She raised Salama alone in the town of Ayarou, a town on the river near the border of Mali. Life was not easy, but Hadiza did all she could for Salama. She made porridge at home and sold it on the street. She made enough money to keep them alive, but not much more than that. Hadiza loved Salama, but Salama grew up and one day she left. She went away to Benin, and Hadiza barely heard from her at all.
Read the rest of this entry »

A long journey to healing

Abdoul-Wahab 1


Abdoul-Wahab’s parents didn’t initially know he was born with a cleft lip. He was born late at night, and when the midwives saw that he had a cleft lip, they hesitated to tell his mother, Mariama. She couldn’t see him clearly herself because of the dark. It was only after they went home the next day that she and her husband realized that their son Abdoul-Wahab had a cleft lip. They were upset, especially since they didn’t know what it was or why their baby was born like this, but they prayed and asked God to bless him. They believed that they needed to accept anything that comes from God, and Abdoul-Wahab was from God, so there was nothing they could do. They had no idea that a cleft lip was something that could be treated or healed through surgery.

Thankfully, when Abdoul-Wahab’s parents talked to their family back in Niger and explained that their baby had been born with a cleft lip, Abdoul-Wahab’s grandfather told them that a new hospital had just been built in Niamey that treated that kind of thing. They made plans to visit the hospital the next time they visited home.

Read the rest of this entry »

Josh & Julie Korn: A Griot at CURE Niger

It is always fun getting to know the children who come to our hospital, but it is also great getting to know their parents. Some of them spend quite a bit of time here, so they really get to know the staff of the hospital, and develop a real relationship with them.

Recently, we had a mom here at the CURE hospital who is something of a griot. Her name is Habi, and she would sing each morning when we would come to the patient guesthouse to visit with the patients. Over time I started noticing that she was mentioning CURE in her song. I listened closer, and noticed that she was mentioning the names of different staff members as well. One day I finally asked someone what she was singing about, since it is in Hausa, and they explained that she is singing about the hospital and everyone in it. So we asked her to perform it, and she was glad to:

Read the rest of this entry »

Josh & Julie Korn: CURE Niger’s first baby

Aichatou with the baby she "provoked."

Aichatou with the baby she “provoked.”

The other day, while making our daily rounds in the patient’s ward, we met a lady who had come to the hospital with her son. He needed anoperation on his foot, and had just gone into the O.R. She said that she wasn’t nervous about the surgery, but she looked like she could have used a hospital bed as well. We chatted with her for a while and learned that she was pregnant. In fact, she was very pregnant, even though it wasn’t immediately obvious. We asked her when she was due, and she said, “Any time now,” with a half-smile which (in hindsight) was probably more grimace than smile. Read the rest of this entry »

Josh & Julie Korn: Darkness

The World is Dark

photo credit: Josh Korn

“We look for light, but there is darkness!” (Isa. 59:9 NKJV)

Recently, there has been a lot of darkness around here. Some of the worst power cuts in years have left the city of Niamey in the dark, and a number of terrorist attacks (in the north and in Niamey) have caused a lot of fear. Evil men have taken advantage of the darkness to do their dark deeds – deeds they would not do in the light. They hide in the darkness and in the shadows.

It has been a difficult time. The hot season can make the air almost unbreathable, and for about a month people were walking around flushed and frustrated, angry and hot and afraid. It has been a difficult time, but also a good reminder that the world is a dark place. Or at least it can be. It is full of suffering and injustice. It is a sick and broken world, where people rely on violence and lies, and the truth is hard to see because of the darkness.

Read the rest of this entry »

Josh & Julie Korn: Nigerian Winter Wear

Hannatou, the hospital social worker, does an amazing job with the patients, and especially their families, during their stay at the hospital. Many of the mothers who accompany their children get to participate in all kinds of activities like cooking, sewing, jewelery making, and knitting. One of the projects Hannatou does with them is knitting winter outfits for kids. Yes, they bundle up like they’re just about ready for a snow storm! Read the rest of this entry »

Josh & Julie Korn: Introducing Leon Jonathan Korn

It has been quite awhile since we have written a blog post. One of the biggest reasons for our recent silence has been the addition of a baby boy to our family. Leon is an orphan. His mother died at his birth, and no one in his family knows who his father is, so he was taken by his relatives to an orphanage here in Niamey. We met him there when he was only a couple months old, and began the process of adopting him.

We are still in the process of adopting him (and will be for the foreseeable future), but in the meantime, the orphanage has given us permission to bring him home as foster parents. This was quite unexpected, but it has been great getting to know him better, learning how to be parents, and giving him as many kisses as possible.

Leon has only been with us for about a month, but we love him so much already. Of course, it isn’t hard to love a face like this:

What a cutie.

What a cutie.

We also decided to give him a new name. Names are important, and we wanted to give him a new name that would represent his new identity as our son. His full name is Leon Jonathan Korn.

Leon is named after Leon Trotsky, Leon Blum, and most importantly, his great-great-grandfather, Leon Hirsch Karp, who died in Auschwitz in 1945. It is a name that carries a lot of our family history. A history of pain and suffering, but also of hope and of overcoming.

His Hebrew name is Lev, which means “heart,” and that is apt. This kid has a lot of heart. In his short life, he has already been through so much. He has suffered loss and been witness to death. He has been separated from everything familiar to him, and placed and the mercy of strangers. But through it all, he has overcome. He has fought for his life, and he has had a positive attitude. Even though he is so young (5 months old), his personality shines through, especially in his smile, which he is quick to flash to anyone who looks his way. He has already learned that life is struggle, but he has also learned a great secret – it is a struggle that is won through determination and heart, through tears yes, but also through laughter.

"Keep Loving, Keep Fighting" by Dalia Sapon-Shevin.

Keep Loving, Keep Fighting by Dalia Sapon-Shevin.

Jonathan was the middle name Leon was given at the orphanage, and we decided to keep it. First of all, it is a name we both like, and we wanted to keep at least one of the names he had been given in his first home. But also, we like the meaning of Jonathan, which is “God given.” This is certainly true. Leon is a gift from God, a true blessing. An unexpected, transformative blessing that has changed our lives forever. We can only hope that we will be as much of a blessing for him as he has been for us.

Finally, his last name is Korn. We are sorry about that one Leon, but you are stuck with it. You can’t win them all I guess. But at least you are not alone. From now on you never will be.

Leon Jonathan Korn. Cute in stripes.

Leon Jonathan Korn. Cute in stripes.

Originally posted at: