Serphine was a four-year-old patient in Kisumu Local District Hospital when I first met her in 2003 during my first trip to Kenya. She was badly burned over her chest and underarm area as a result of a cooking fire. The normal way of cooking is outside with wood slid in between three large stones with a pot balanced on top. She was very ill as her wounds were infected and she also was suffering from malaria. Her parents could not afford to buy the antibiotics or pay for the skin grafts she required. The nursing staff told me they expected her to die without the medicine. When I asked how much it would cost – they told me $10.00. I could not believe that ten dollars would make the difference between this beautiful little girl living or dying. I immediately gave them the money and she responded very well to treatment. She was a strong little girl and participated willingly in the extremely painful physical therapy treatments I provided to try to restore normal movement to her arm and trunk. As we played catch with a ball I gave to her, she never made a sound, but I could see the tears running down her face when she lifted her arm to catch or throw.
When I got home I received a letter from her mom that she dictated to a friend, as she is illiterate. She thanked me for saving her daughters life and said she was dedicating Serphine’s life to me. I just cried. I did so little and it made such a difference. Every time I return to Kisumu I visit Serphine, her mom and siblings. Her dad died in 2006 and FIOH-USA sponsored her mom, Jane, for tailoring so she could provide for her family. Serphine has been sponsored for nursery school, primary school and as of 2018 is beginning high school through FIOH-USA. She is healthy and able to participate in her school program and activities.