It is most likely that Ndimurwange Mbarushimba will leave the HEAL Africa Hospital within the month. Some neighbors will pick him up and bring him home to his remote village, Nyambwe, 50 kilometers outside of the provincial capital of Goma. During this half day trip, while bumping along the dirt roads, Ndimurwange will carefully watch the people, the fields, the land which he loves so much. It might be the last time he is able to do so. This trip home will likely be his last. He is returning home to die.
It is not that the doctors of HEAL Africa don’t know how to help the 56 year old farmer. It is simply for lack of 350 dollars. This is what it would cost to transplant a piece of healthy skin to the hurt leg of Ndimurwange and to keep him in hospital until the wound healed. “But I have no money at all. I do not know where to get it from”, explains Ndimurwange. Usually, HEAL Africa is able to pay for poor patients through a fund called The Mercy Fund – funding specifically set aside for patients who can’t pay and whose need doesn’t fall into an area where we have designated funding available. But the need is great, and right now, the Mercy Fund has all been spent.
“We will have to send him home soon” explains the responsible nurse Cirho Nathanael. “Then the inflammation will spread all over the body and he will die”, says he. Sadly, Ndimurwange is not an exception. Several patients have to be sent home because of lack of money, despite the fact that they might die without treatment. There is no public health care system in the Democratic Republic of Congo and most people can’t afford private insurance. “It hurts so much, but what can we do?” asks Cirho. There is simply no funding available to get the necessary supplies and equipment to treat these patients.
For the moment the nurses can only change the bandage of Ndimurwange as often as possible and give moral support to the man and his wife Gertrud Nzaituriki. She stays with her husband in the hospital to cook for him – when she can afford to buy food or someone gives her some beans. Most of the time the couple stays hungry. Their six young children wait at home for their parents, while the neighbors care for them. The four oldest have died some time ago because they were sick.
First Ndimurwange wanted to avoid to travel to Goma for his treatment. He knew this would be expensive. After a piece of wood cut a deep wound in his left leg while he was clearing with a machete, he went to a local health station. But the wound got worse and worse so that some neighbors suggested to see a traditional healer because they though there “must be some sorcery involved”. After month of pain and severe inflammation Ndimurwange decided to go to HEAL Africa Hospital. The man’s life could be saved here – if there were $350 dollars*.
*Editor’s Note: On the same day HEAL Africa’s US office received this story from our staff in DR Congo, we received a $1000 donation for Hospital care. We contacted the staff in Goma immediately and asked that they make sure to find this man before he leaves the hospital. They will make sure he has the surgery and follow-up care that will save his life. But every day, more patients just like him come. Consider donating to our fund called “Health” which allows us to continue sending regular funding to keep the Mercy Fund supplied and serving patients who truly have no other options.