The cries rose from the courtyard like a cloud. Within the noise, the guttural sounds of a mother in mourning could be heard.
It was the last thing Paul wanted to hear as he jogged after the messenger who had come for him. Paul, the Director at the Apostolic Rescue Child Development Center in Ghana, was preparing for the day’s activities when he was sent for by the family of Sandra, one of the registered children. Paul had no idea what would greet him, and when he heard the cries and saw the crowd of people dressed in black, he knew the news would not be good.
Tradition and Compassion
Seth immediately spotted Isaiah, Sandra’s father, and rushed to his side, asking after the 4-year-old girl. A group of elders stepped forward and began telling Paul what had happened.
Sandra had fallen sick earlier in the week. In this rural community, superstition often overrules medicine, so the family had waited. Each day, Sandra had grown more ill, her temperature rising. And when they had gone to wake her that morning, the family discovered that Sandra had died.
Isaiah had sent for Seth to let him know of the girl’s death before they buried her. As Seth sat in the hot sun, he was shaken and confused. But he knew that Compassion required a death certificate, so he asked the family if he could take Sandra’s body to the hospital.
The family balked. Their traditions stated that children should be buried immediately. But as the news of Sandra’s death spread, more Compassion staff had come to express their sadness to the family. They also explained the importance of a burial certificate — that in fact it was illegal to bury the child without one. Seeing the staff’s concern, the family finally consented.
At the hospital, a doctor examined the child’s body. For five hours the family waited, desperate to give their child a proper burial. But when the doctor returned, he had shocking news.
Sandra was not dead!
Further tests showed that Sandra was suffering from cerebral malaria, and had slipped into a coma overnight. Within 24 hours she was awake and talking. While the family celebrated, Compassion was able to cover the child’s medical costs, including future treatments she would need as she recovered.
Sandra has regained her health in the months since her coma, and her family struggles to even express their thankfulness for the miracle of their child’s life.
“Whenever I think about the whole issue, I shudder,” says Isaiah. “If Compassion had not come in, we would have buried my daughter… I am just thankful to God for what He has done for me through Compassion.”