by Sr. Cecily Bourdillon MMM Ireland 10.07.2022
A few days ago, I received a message from a member of staff of Kasina Health Centre in Malawi telling me of the death of our mutual friend, Yohane. May he rest in peace. The message added that his mother thanked God for answereing her prayer. Yohane’s mother had asked God to take Yohane before calling herself. She knew that she was the only person who could or would care for him.
Yohane suffered from epilepsy. Lack of appropriate treatment and care over many years resulted in numerous seizures causing brain damage and subsequent mental impairment. He often suffered injuries and his mother was continuously dressing his wounds.
One day, the Palliative Care team of Kasina Health Centre was called to the Yohane’s home. We found him unconscious, cold, and hardly breathing. He had recently been to the epilepsy clinic in the nearest hospital and his medications had been changed. It appeared that he had unknowingly taken an overdose. We helped his mother to bathe him and make him comfortable – and thank God he recovered from this incident.
It was around this time that Kasina Health Centre opened two monthly clinics for those suffering from epilepsy – on the first Friday – and hypertension on the second Friday – of each month. This was our response to the experience that, at the Sunday Mass, invariably there was an interruption when one member of the congregation collapsed, or had a seizure, and had to be lifted out of the church and carried to the Health Centre nearby for treatment. The families of patients with epilepsy or hypertension could not afford the cost of transport for regular visits to the hospital, nor the fees asked for the medications. So, they remained untreated and their condition uncontrolled.
All in the area with epilepsy or high blood pressure were invited to attend the monthly clinics and receive regular treatment free, thanks to the generosity of kind donors. The one condition was regular attendance! People responded, attendances increased and patients with epilepsy and hypertension were being regularly monitored and received continuous treatment. The interruptions at Mass ceased!
Yohane was registered and he, with his mother, attended the Epilepsy clinic faithfully. Having continuous appropriate treatment for his epilepsy controlled the seizures, but did not alter Yohane’s behaviour. He was a wanderer and would walk many miles begging for food. He was always hungry. After the clinic he would call to our office looking for money. We would bring him for a shower, dress him in clean clothes and put something in his hands for food. Smiling, he would go on his way.
Yohane, in his thirties, was a moderately tall, strong man. His mother was half his size, worn down by the burden of life and caring for her son. He received from her the constant care of a loving mother.
Dear Yohane, you were a blessing. Now may you rest in peace and hunger no more.
We thank God for Yohane and his mother who gave him constant loving care. May God comfort her now as she mourns for her son.