In Northern Kenya, roughly 46 percent of the population earns less than 108.10 Kenyan shilling,
the equivalent of one dollar a day. Kenya is also the world's 48th largest country. In Kenya,
families must travel to reach the main cities to access the minimal healthcare resources. This
often means a trip over 300 kilometers or 186 miles.
This severe poverty has impacted so many children born with craniofacial differences. The journey is on rough terrain, is costly, and risky for a cleft baby. Love Without Reason is working with the Kenyan people to help as many cleft babies as possible this year. Because of the closures and delays from COVID-19, the need is more dire. A stretched healthcare system already working with minimal resources is not able to meet these needs. Your donations will help fund the June 2023 medical camp which we call "The Great African Adventure."
In a small village in Kenya sixty years ago, little Mary was born with something no one had ever
seen, a cleft lip. While her siblings went to school, Mary's parents hid her in their
Human trafficking through the form of child marriage is prevalent for those born with craniofacial differences. Mary's parents married her to a fifty-four-year-old man by the time she turned fifteen. For years her experience as a wife was to a husband that abused and tormented her. Mary worked as a maid. She gave birth to eight children and buried four of them.
Mary's adult children persisted in bringing their mother to various cleft camps in hopes of being selected for surgery. Mary and her children continued to feel disappointment at Mary not being chosen for surgery. Love Without Reason hosted its first 2018 Nakuru medical camp in Kenya. Mary's children were delighted when the surgical team cleared their mother for surgery. Mary had a successful cleft lip repair. Not only does she have a brilliant and genuinely contagious smile, but she has also become an advocate for those struggling with craniofacial differences.
In February 2020, Love Without Reason hosted the Nairobi medical camp. Mary joined as a volunteer and supported parents who were anxious and scared to send their children for surgery. She bravely shared her story comforting the mothers and patients. "People have come from all around the neighboring villages to visit me in my home, '' she continued. They all knew me as the woman with a hole in her lip. But now they see me whole and celebrate with me. I am so thankful for the care and support of Love Without Reason. They have helped to remove my shame and have given me joy."
Love Without Reason 2020 Kenya medical camp, like all camps, started with a screening process.
Typically, surgery for cleft lip is performed between three to six months of age and depends on
the child's health and strength to handle surgery. Our team had the honor of meeting Peter and
his new son Junior, who had been born with a cleft lip a few weeks earlier. Little Junior needed
more time to grow before he would be able to undergo surgery.
Love Without Reason recorded Peter and Junior’s family contact information for future camps or other medical camps to help children with cleft repairs. The world, suddenly impacted by the pandemic, lockdowns and travel bans, halted all medical camps in Kenya.
Like so many in the pandemic, Peter lost his job as he could not farm the land without access to supplies. What meager resources his family had left were dwindling quickly. In the middle of Peter's heartache and worry for his family's health, he received an unexpected call from a Love Without Reason volunteer in Kenya.
Thanks to generous donors, the Love Without Reason team reaches out to our families, distributing food hampers. "I was so surprised," said Peter. You didn't operate on my child, but you still cared about us. This is what Love Without Reason means!?!"
Peter's family received a hamper created to sustain a family of four for three weeks. It contained maize, meal, vegetables, and hygiene items. Our donors continue to make it possible for little Junior to be healthy and ready for his surgery when Love Without Reason returns in February 2022.
Living with craniofacial differences in societies dominated by looks is hard. This is made even
more painful for those in countries where lack of awareness of the condition, limited access to
healthcare, and poverty become barriers to solutions. These babies become children, teenagers,
and adults who feel that living a 'normal' life seems impossible.
Love Without Reason is an unusual medical team that evaluates each potential patient with surgical and anesthesia consultants. A thorough exam will help the medical professionals determine each patient's health and determine if they have a final clearance for surgery. Children and adults with clefts are prone to lung infection, feeding issues, and even other medical concerns.
We often hear about the power of a mother's love. Cecilia was one of those mothers. Cecilia arrived at the medical camp in Nairobi. This time, Cecilia's grown adult children brought their elderly mother to find out if this medical camp might consider her for a cleft lip repair. She kept her eyes to the ground, even when we approached her to greet her. Her children wanted to give their mother confidence as she had always given them. Her children asked the team, "Can anyone operate on our mother? Even though she is over 70 years of age?"
Cecilia was cleared for surgery by the entire medical team. The children's questions were full of excitement, anxiety, and anticipation. "What will she look like? Has she been in pain all her life because of her cleft lip? Cecilia had given a life full of love. It was comforting for her to be accompanied to the hospital by her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. They all wanted to be with their "Go-Go." When Cecilia left for surgery, the family was well aware of the risks of surgery, but they again held on to hope.
When their mother was released from recovery and the bandages were removed, the family erupted in shouts of joy. Mama Cecilia had a new smile, and this time the smile reached her eyes. As she was discharged from the hospital, she looked Santhosh Mathews, co-founder of Love Without Reason, straight in the eye. "You come to my home, and I will cook you goat curry from my herd." The entire team laughed at the tremendous physical and emotional transformation in Cecilia.
Your donations make a difference. Let's not allow others to live a life where they are asked, "Why hasn't anyone helped her in all these years?"