Chris was just 2 years old when his mother abandoned him. She gave no reason for leaving and little information about where she was going – or if she would come back. His grandmother, Bettinah, was shocked at his appearance.
“His skin was pale, and it looked like he was anemic. When Chris would sleep, he could not get up by himself because he had no energy,” she says. She took him to hospital, where he was diagnosed with a hernia. Doctors recommended a series of urgent surgeries, which would cost 4,000,000 shillings (US $1,081). She tried her best, but Bettinah could only raise 200,000 shillings (US $54), a fraction of the cost. She could find little work during the pandemic, and hospitals were already overrun with COVID-19 cases.
As she called relatives asking for help, she discovered Chris was part of the Compassion Child Sponsorship Program. Edith, the director of the center Chris had attended, had no idea where he was, and she was relieved that his grandmother contacted her. Edith and the staff at the center were able to use Compassion funds to cover the cost of the three surgeries that Chris required.
Bettinah says she still remembers the day Edith called her to tell her the good news. “I was in the market. I felt like a big load had left me,” she says. “I called Edith three times confirming what she had said. I thought I was dreaming but it was all true.”
Shortly after, Chris was admitted to the hospital, where he underwent a successful surgery that took eight hours. Afterwards, Edith gave Bettinah food parcels because her husband’s source of income had also been affected by the COVID-19 lockdown, and Chris needed to stay fed and strong to recover.
Today, Chris looks like a different child, running and playing with his friends. His mother hasn’t returned, but Bettinah has fallen in love with him, and with the help of Compassion, she is committing to raising her grandson.