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Mar, 24.

Miracles really do happen again and again

Berlin physicians help children from Senegal

Even when Samba meets somebody he doesn’t know, he grins so joyfully that one can’t help laughing back at him. There is a computer in front of the four-year-old, an X-ray image on the monitor. It shows a corroded oesophagus – it belongs to Samba. The boy from the African state of Senegal vitriolised his oesophagus in the summer of 2012 by inadvertently drinking a caustic solution. “The very fact that he’s still alive is a miracle,” says Cynthia Clottey, the initiator of the Sage Hospital Society. “Since the accident, he has been unable to swallow any food.”

Since 10 February, Samba has been at the Helios Clinic in Buch, thanks to the efforts of the society. Ms. Clottey travelled to Senegal to fetch him and two other children, Fatou and Absa, who are also in Berlin for treatment. Nine-year-old Absa has complicated breaks in both legs. Seven-year-old Fatou is being treated for burns in Biesdorf, Berlin. The three children will remain in Berlin until the middle of June, in order to recover fully.

The Sage Hospital Society, which finances the aid organisation “A Heart for Children” from donations, has been running the hospital of the same name in Senegal for 10 years now. Up to 1,000 children are treated there every month free of charge. When Ms. Clottey was there at the end of 2013, she learned of the suffering of these three children. “I have to do something”, she said.

Back in Germany, she sought appropriate specialists and found several physicians at the Helios Clinic and the Trauma Hospital in Berlin, who were prepared to treat the children pro bono. One of the physicians is Klaus Schaarschmidt, chief physician for paediatric surgery at the Helios Clinic. Shortly before Christmas, Ms. Clottey sent him an email and the photo of Samba – his promise to help came half an hour later. “It was like a Christmas present," she says.

The children already appear to feel quite at home. They curiously peer at physicians and visitors, chatter with one another and laugh. “They can sense that we are helping them”, says Ms. Clottey. Samba realises that he will soon be able to eat again. He has already started hoarding a few biscuits – for the time when he is well again.


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