A mother’s worst nightmare

Alemnesh– a two year old little girl in Ethiopia– accidentally drank kerosene. She nearly died.

This tragedy happened three days after her elder sister had suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. Her mother was still grieving the loss of her elder daughter when this crisis hit. She feared she would lose a second daughter.

Fanose borrowed money to take Alemnesh to the local hospital. But, because she didn’t have enough to pay for the emergency medical care, Alemnesh languished in the hospital…untreated.

After three months of neglect, the hospital staff sent her home in worse condition than when she arrived.

Alemnesh’s dad turned his back on his wife and children because his daughter was sick. He refused to pay for her treatment. He starting seeing other women and spent the family’s money on them.

The local government refused to help and humiliated them further by telling them Alemnesh’s dad should support them—instead of other women.

At home, Alemnesh lay all day on a plastic mat on the mud floor. She was feverish, dazed and in pain.

Her condition only worsened. Eventually a giant, infected, deep sore covered her back.

A mother’s answered prayer
Then Fanose prayed out of sheer desperation, “Dear God, you have taken one of my children. Are you going to take Alemnesh also? I do not want you to take her…I want you to help my child. I want you to give her life so that she can continue.”

After this prayer, a cbm supported community worker, Meseret, found them.

“For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.” Psalm 22:24 (NIV)

Meseret listened to Fanose’s story. She then took Fanose and Alemnesh to the local government official for the second time. She showed him Alemnesh’s seeping wound. The government official couldn’t look, it was so terrible. To their delight, he immediately signed the papers to pay for her medical treatment.

Alemnesh returned to the hospital. And this time, she was given proper care.

But, the wounds had damaged her muscles, making it impossible for her to walk at that time.

After Alemnesh returned home, Mesmeret and cbm’s Community Based Rehabilitation workers helped her with her physiotherapy for three and a half years. Slowly, Alemnesh became stronger.

A day a mother will never forget
Gradually Alemnesh was able to stand. Fanose describes the miraculous day her daughter took her first steps:

“It was here…in this house. The sun was rising in a bright blue sky, chasing the shadows away. Alemnesh turned towards the door to the yard, put one foot forward, slowly, and began to walk…one step after another.”

She said she cried out with joy to her neighbours across her yard. They came running, and when they saw Alemnesh walking they cheered, danced and praised God.

Today, Alemnesh uses a standing frame to help her walk. Soon she will go to the hospital and be fitted with special shoes and braces.

The doctors assured Fanose that one day she will walk on her own!

“I praise you every day,” she said to the cbm workers. “I want God to give you old age—to help you live a long life, and to be happy. This is a great thing that you have done. Because you intervened, because of your help—and because of the will of God—my child is okay. My child has survived. I am so happy. I’m grateful to God—and to you.”

Alemnesh exercising