No Longer Helpless

No Longer Helpless

By: Brandy Campbell   |   Posted: January 07, 2008

Japhet finally has the tools to help his family, and one day he hopes all of Ghana, battle malaria.

No child should know the helplessness of wiping the feverish forehead of a younger brother as he shivers under piles of scratchy blankets. But for Japhet, that is a reality each year as malaria enters his family's one-room home.

Praying for Survival

Floods fill the dry riverbeds during the rainy season in the coastal community of Kanda. Then mosquitoes begin to swarm. Japhet and his brothers awaken each morning with angry red bites covering their arms and legs. The bites are followed by fever. Then chills.

As the oldest son, Japhet helps his mother care for his younger brothers, even as he battles the disease himself. His mother's salary of just $.70 a day is never enough for medicine or doctor's visits. So Japhet simply waits and prays that his family will survive.

A Blessing

Help doesn't come until Japhet is 9, and he is enrolled in St. Paul's Lutheran Compassion Assisted Project (GH-700). Then he realizes he doesn't have to feel helpless all the time. Through the support of a sponsor thousands of miles away, Japhet receives the medical care he has needed along with nutritious foods and the opportunity to attend school. His mother, Felicia, can't understand why this stranger cares so much about her son's well-being and she can't express her thanks enough.

"For someone who doesn't know my son, who doesn't know his background or anything about him, to take such an interest & it is amazing," says Felicia. "I think that person is a blessing to us. & I don't even know what to say, except thank you."

"& so I can help the nation"

In just a year, Japhet has transformed from a weak, sickly boy into a robust 11-year-old who loves playing soccer with his friends. Japhet is thrilled when he receives a mosquito net at the center's health class. At home, he hangs the bright blue net around the bed he shares with his brothers. Japhet finally has the tools to battle the disease that has entered his home year after year.

Japhet is not content with just knowledge and a mosquito net, though. He vows that he will one day become a doctor, so he can save the lives of other children in Ghana.

"I would like to be a doctor so I can help the nation," says Japhet. "Everywhere you go in Ghana, people are dying. People don't have money to go to the hospital. Because people don't go to the hospital when they are sick, they die. So I would like to help those who are sick and help them get well."

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