Round Pizza in a Square Box
Excerpt from the Epilogue:
As a father to two daughters, I was happy to manage a hospital that provided the core of its forty thousand free treatments to children. Without free care, I know that most would have had no choice but to suffer through their illnesses and deformities. I met many poor families in the Pediatric Ward who simply could not afford the ten dollars a month blood transfusions, or the two hundred and fifty dollar surgery for a cleft lip or palate. It would have taken them twenty years or more to raise the necessary funds, whether through backbreaking labor or the sacrifice of daily food.
Financial need was not the only difficulty these families faced. Children born with physical deformities, especially blindness and cleft palates, faced grim and uncertain futures. Unless a deformed child was born into a rich man’s home, the mindset prevailed that he or she had been cursed. In the community’s eyes, the deformed child was nothing more than a beggar. If the parents did not cast aside the child to beg or starve, the child almost surely forwent education, marriage, and communal support for the remainder of his or her life.
I recall meeting a mother in the hospital who covered her head in shame because she had a child with both a cleft palate and a blind eye that hung loose from its socket. “Why are you covering your head,” I asked her.
“I am covering my head and also my face because I have been cursed by God,” she replied.
It was not until the hospital fixed the child’s palate and removed the eye that the mother uncovered her head. Both her and her son returned to their village with heads held high and confident smiles. Two simple surgeries not only brought self-esteem back to the child, but to the family as well.
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