I think you’ll agree that the girl in the picture is a pretty cute kid, even though she’s making a mess eating (hence why her cute dress was taken off). But if you look closely, you may be able to see what’s making her life difficult and her mom’s life miserable at the moment. Do you see that her eyes aren’t pointing in exactly the same direction? In March she was a perfectly fine, normal 1-year-old, but over the last few months her eyesight has disintegrated until now she can’t see at all, or at best can only see a little bit of light. Lord willing she’ll be able to get some tests done tomorrow (you can pray that both the blood test and the scanner will get done!), but it at least looks like little Rachida (for that’s her name) has hereditary retinoblastoma. In non-medical terms, it means a certain kind of cancer of the eye.
Those of you who know me well, know that I am very squeamish and medical stuff is not up my alley at all. I think my alley is on the other side of town as the alley of medical stuff! But God has put her and her family in my path, and I’ve been involved in ways I never imagined.
(For those of you who have heard me give names of my friends here, you may have heard about Fatoumata and Kadi. Fatoumata was my main Jula language helper and is a great friend. Kadi is her little sister, and is interested in Jesus even though she follows another main world religion. I don’t actually know which side of the fence she’s currently on. This little Rachida, the girl in the picture, is Kadi’s grand-daughter.)
I don’t even know how many hours I have spent with this family in the last week alone, or how many others I’ve spent researching online and communicating with others who know more than us. Yes, sometimes it’s exhausting. It’s way out of my comfort zone. But it’s a way that I can be the hands and feet of Jesus to a family who really needs it at this time.
What’s the prognosis? It doesn’t necessarily look very good, but the results from the tests that she’ll hopefully have tomorrow may give us a better idea of whether the cancer has spread outside of the eyes or not and how big it is. What’s the treatment plan? Well, the only treatment available here in Burkina Faso is to remove both of her eyes, hoping to prevent the cancer from going to the brain as well. Her family is not a big fan of the idea, obviously. I don’t think that they realize, though, that it may be the only way of saving her life.
They do have a relative in the US, though, and he wants them to send her there so that she can get better care. Whether his insurance will actually cover her like he thinks it will, how they’d get the paperwork, how they’d pay for everything, and so many other questions are way up in the air on that idea, and though I’m walking alongside them as they pursue the option, I’m not sure whether it’s going to work or not.
So as you can see, Rachida, her family, and I could really use your prayers. Pray for healing for Rachida’s little body – Jesus can work miracles today, whether through the hands of a doctor or through His healing touch. Pray for wisdom for her family as they make decisions on her care, and for me as I try to help. Pray for peace and rest through all the craziness that trying to care for a sick little one brings. Pray for good and speedy care in a part of the world where that isn’t guaranteed. Pray for the doors to open to either get her cared for here or in the US (or elsewhere in the world!) and wisdom on which path to pursue. Pray that God would spare Rachida’s life. Pray that if her eyes need to be removed, that He would lead the family to make that decision. And most of all, pray that through this, this whole family could come to know Jesus. Thank you.