Life is tough for the Fulani, traditional nomads who wander the southern Sahara, the expansive desert that spans much of Niger. For thousands of years, they have herded their cattle from water source to water source, making each destination a temporary home until that water source is depleted. A common, friendly jibe thrown their way is “Machaya Nono” or “Milk Drinker,” because, as herders of cattle, dairy is a common part of the Fulani diet. The majority of Nigeriens deem milk-drinking odd because, according to one person, “only babies drink milk.”
In their nomadic culture, where life is constantly moving, the Fulani value mobility above most everything else. So while life is hard for the Fulani, life is especially hard for Hadiza, a young Fulani girl born with knock knees, a condition in which the legs curve inward so that the feet are apart when the knees are touching. Hadiza’s knock knees make walking a difficult process. She moves slowly, and with a pronounced limp.
Her Fulani community doesn’t regard Hadiza’s life as worth living. She cannot keep up. The petite 7-year old is already mocked and excluded, a reality that will only worsen as she gets older. Her family fears she will never marry and that they will be supporting her at an age when she should be supporting them.
It’s unclear how Hadiza’s family found out about CURE Niger, but, by the hand of God, she showed up at one of our mobile clinics. Our medical staff informed Hadiza’s family that her condition is entirely curable and, wasting no time, she was soon admitted to the hospital and wheeled into surgery.
“She can live now,” Hadiza’s mother whispers in amazement.
Those of us from western cultures have a difficult time understanding that, in some places, disability is viewed as a walking death. CURE Niger exists to transform lives like Hadiza’s.
And isn’t this what Christ did for us?
We were the walking dead, overrun by our sin and cut off from the salvation and eternal life that Jesus offers. But through His sacrifice, we can now live!
The same goes for Hadiza. Where there was once death, God has given life!
During Hadiza’s stay, CURE Niger’s spiritual staff had many small, special moments where they were able to share Jesus with Hadiza and her mother. God has planted the seeds, and we’re watering them with our prayers. Ultimately, the results are up to the Holy Spirit. Hadiza leaves CURE with a straight leg, her mobility, and a restored place in her community. Most importantly, she leaves knowing that Jesus loves her regardless of her tribe, physical condition, or whether or not she drinks milk!