Howard* is a 26 year old boy with severe brain damage caused by a lifetime of epilepsy. He comes from a family of nine children. His lovely, hard working, supportive Dad died three years ago leaving his mum to care for all of them - on her own.
Howard's* mum dropped out of school early because her parents could not afford to pay the school fees. Now all that she can do is "kibarua" work (odd jobs), which is really hard and laborious work that's different every day - i.e. just whatever work you can get, like washing clothes by hand.
She has to go out to find work every day, not knowing what work she will get, and sometimes comes home having earned nothing. They buy everything daily that they cook and eat and there is never anything left over for the following day. They even have no pantry or cupboards in the house.
When we first met "Howard", through a church we work with, he was happy, clappy, outgoing and very friendly.
We went to see his mum, who had broken her leg, as we knew they would be badly off - since she is the sole breadwinner in the family. Howard was in bed and had not been able to move around for a few months. He was having epileptic fits every few minutes and had lost all bladder and bowel control: peeing and pooping on himself. He needed to be washed, toileted, feed, etc. and even had difficulty chewing and swallowing food. As we visited over the next few days, it looked as if he was getting worse and we thought he was close to death.
We called in Josh: our friendly Missionary doctor. When we went down to see "Howard", Josh was very worried about the fits and the progressive brain damage from oxygen starvation. His mother said that she could not get Howard's normal prescription of Epilepsy drugs, as the hospital had refused to issue a new prescription: saying that he required an MRI scan to determine if his condition was caused by Epilepsy or something else (a huge and completely unaffordable expense for a widow in her position). Josh said the symptoms were very obvious and wrote out a prescription. Voila! With Josh's help we had gotten the appropriate drugs to Howard by the end of the day.
We then went back a week later to check on him and found that he was now WORSE!!!! What???
Mum is tired, and even if she doesn't say it, it's quite obvious to her that he is better off dead than alive. Meaning no drugs and no food for Howard. (As Christians, are we allowed to strangle people?!!) Anyway, after taking a deep breath (scummy, slummy air) and shooting up a quick prayer of 'why God', we begin to feel the greatest love and sympathy for a mum who has been through more than many of us could ever handle!! And yeah, we see where she is coming from: a broken leg along with washing, feeding and caring for an epileptic son - all with no income and eight other mouths to feed - and remember, she is still mourning the loss of her husband.
Loooong story short, we found Howard a hospice in Kenya that would look after him. A social worker came and assessed him and said that he did indeed meet all of their criteria. Then, as we were planning to get him there, some lovely young missionaries came to visit and we took them around to the families we minister to in Langas. Amongst them was Howard - on his death bed. They spontaneously began to sing and pray for him: there were so many tears and crying. They really prayed up a storm!
The following day we took a happy Howard to the hospice. Upon seeing him, Rachel (the very lovely hospice lady) told us that she couldn't admit him. It was then that we really noticed that Howard was talking (even if it was just repeating the same words over and over again) and was very responsive - and he was even standing up on his own and trying to walk!!! Ha!
Anyway, Rachael arranged for a psychiatric evaluation and we brought him home the following day drugged up, walking, eating, proper bladder control, etc. YEAH!!! God is good, God is Great....
Now what!! Howard's getting better and better, Praise God! His mum still has a broken leg and has to care for him, but she is singing God's praises - as now she can see her son recovering and growing healthier day-by-day.
Latest: we took Howard for an assessment with the specialist at a special school and we are waiting to hear if he has been referred for vocational training: where he can stay and learn a trade - including possibly being able to work and support himself in the future. Please pray it works out and that we can raise the money needed for the school.
We actually managed to have a conversation with him - he is so massively improved! He is even better than when we first met him over 2 years ago! We desperately want to see this boy completely healed.
*name changed to protect his anonymity.