I first stumbled across Watsi as a Facebook suggestion last summer. I poked around and was immediately struck not just by the stories of people looking for help, but the small amounts requested. Life saving medicine was just a few hundred dollars out of reach for so many people. I simply couldn’t understand how not having $500 meant a person’s life might end or a child’s life would be filled with pain. I thought of the last $500 I’d spent: Starbucks, eating out at Carrabba’s, washi tape and planner stickers at Michael’s, more Starbucks, stuff I don’t need at Target. I could have easily gone without all those things, I didn’t need them or the $500 to survive, but there are some people whose entire lives could be changed by that money.
Ladule was the first person I helped on Watsi. I was immediately taken with his beautiful smile, and being a mother of a son with special needs reading his story moved me.
Ladule is seven years old, and attends school for special needs children in Uganda. He was raised by his paternal grandmother, as he was neglected by his parents at a young age. His parents suffer from alcohol addiction. Ladule is still in pre-school, and his favorite food is rice.
About nine months ago, Ladule’s grandmother noticed a swelling in his scrotum as she was bathing him. She shared with his teacher at school about his condition. The teacher told her it could be a hernia, and advised her to take him to the hospital. Since that time, his grandmother has been unable to take him to the hospital because of lack of money. Recently she learnt about the Watsi program at Virika hospital, and brought him for treatment.
Ladule is currently in pain. If not treated, Ladule may develop intestinal incarceration, obstruction and strangulation. Treatment for his hernia will cost $220, and afterwards, he is expected to make a full recovery.
After surgery, Ladule’s grandmother hopes he will have good health despite his other challenging conditions.
$220 was all that stood between Ladule and a healthy, happy childhood free of the potentially very dangerous complications of his hernia. I was happy to donate, and because Watsi is a crowdfunding site only a small donation from me and a few others was enough to ensure Ladule’s grandmother could afford to arrange his treatment.
Ladule received successful hernia repair surgery.
Ladule is no longer at risk of intestinal incarceration, obstruction, and strangulation. After recovery, he will be able to play without feeling pain.
“I feel good. I will go to school and play,” Ladule said after surgery. “Thank you for helping me.”
“Ladule has very few words,” his grandmother added. “Thank you very much for the help you’ve given me. You’ve given me peace of mind as well. I was unable to pay for his surgery and I never knew he would get surgery. Thank you very much.”
I was overjoyed to learn that Ladule had received the treatment he needed, and to have been able to contribute was a privilege. His smile is nothing short of infectious. There are many stories on Watsi, here a few that I have recently funded with small donations that can lead to big changes.
Brightness is a joyful nine-year-old girl from Tanzania. She is one of five children in her family. Brightness enjoys learning in school. Recently, however, she has been unable to attend. Her condition, genu varus, makes it difficult for her to walk to school.
Genu varus is a medical condition that causes an inward angulation of the bones in the leg. Brightness has undergone one corrective surgery already. Her doctors have suggested a second corrective surgery.
Our medical partner, African Mission Healthcare Foundation, is requesting $940 to fund her x-rays, corrective surgery, medication, casting, physiotherapy, and hospital stay. Her surgery is scheduled for January 12.
Brightness’s mother says, “Currently, my child cannot go to school, so I hope that after surgery she will be able to return to school.”
Keila is a fifteen-month old girl from Guatemala. She is the youngest in a family of four children. Keila likes playing with toys and watching television. Her favorite food is pasta.
Keila was born with several birth defects. She has already received funding from Watsi for malnutrition. Now, she needs treatment for hydrocephalus, a condition in which excess cerebrospinal fluid accumulates in the brain. On January 17, Keila will undergo a shunt insertion surgery at our medical partner’s care center, Hospital Roosevelt. The procedure will drain the fluid from Keila’s brain.
Keila’s family wants her to get well but can’t afford her treatment. Our medical partner, Wuqu’ Kawoq, is asking for $1,445 in funds to cover the cost of Keila’s surgery, labs, medication, family lodging, and followup treatments. Keila’s mother says, “My hope is for Keila to have a normal life, and for all the people who supported her to see that she was a success.”
Keila’s mother is looking forward to seeing her daughter get back to eating pasta, watching television, and playing with her brother!
Kimathi is a three-month-old boy from Kenya, one of a set of twins. The twins live with their parents and third sibling in the suburbs of Nairobi.
When Kimathi was one month old, his parents noticed a swelling that appeared when he coughed or cried. After visiting a nearby clinic, they were told that Kimathi had a left inguinal hernia, which would require surgery. Such an operation was beyond the scope of the facility, so Kimathi was referred to our medical partner’s care center, Bethany Kids Kijabe Hospital. There, Kimathi’s parents were informed that their son was at risk of blood supply restriction to nearby nerves and tissue.
“Watching my son cry in pain is unbearable,” his father says. “His brother is so calm, and I want the same for him.”
Kimathi is scheduled to undergo a repair surgery on January 17. Our medical partner, African Mission Healthcare Foundation, is requesting $528 to cover the cost of the operation, medication, and two nights of hospital stay. His family has already contributed $52. After surgery, Kimathi is expected to make a full recovery, developing normally and without pain.
If you are able, please look over the stories at Watsi. You can even donate to the universal fund, a recurring monthly donation that allows to you to automatically support Watsi patients. While Watsi is still too young to receive ratings from most charity watchdog groups, you can google them and learn more about their tech-y origins and peruse what they call their Transparency Document, a publicly available google doc with their financial transactions.