Beryl Thyer Memorial Africa Trust: supporting African children that suffer from Burkitt lymphoma cancer

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Archive for January, 2017

“We Care” Parent Hostel, Mbingo Baptist Hospital, N.W.Cameroon

Many people have asked for an update on the “We Care” Parent home. The roof is on and windows and door frames about to be fitted.

It was last May whilst in Cameroon that I received an email from the Good News Evangelical Foundation granting £15000 towards the construction of this building. I showed the email to Joe Dixon, Programme Manager of the charity, World Child Cancer who immediately offered to match this. Our plan is now to make the “official” opening in May 2017. Mothers of children with cancer will no longer have to camp out in the hospital grounds but will have accommodation with their own separate firewood cooking facilities – African style. Children undergoing chemotherapy will be able to join mother between drug infusions thus reducing our bed occupancy and hopefully our hospital costs.

"We Care" Parent Hostel for mothers of children with cancer at MBH

“We Care” Parent Hostel for mothers of children with cancer at MBH

Paul Wharin, December 2016

“This sick be not witchcraft. Take pekin for Baptist Hospital”

So say members of our parent groups to the guardian of a child suffering from suspected cancer.

On the 18th November we travelled to Ntaba, a large village near the Nigerian border to visit one of our parent groups. The leader, Paul Tanwarong had invited a prominent local village practitioner/bush doctor (described by Paul as a “sorcerer”) to meet us. We asked questions about his practice and he told us that his most frequent diagnosis is “witchcraft”. Some of our Baptist medical colleagues will have nothing to do with these men but their “professional” organisation is recognised by the government and they are all men of standing in their communities, their “skills” being passed from father to son. We prefer to get alongside, to educate and show them that there is a better way – though we have to confess that we cannot always cure even with our “powerful” medicine. I asked him to please send any pekin (child) with “big face” or “big belly” to Banso Baptist Hospital.

At Ntaba village. In the centre: the village practitioner (red shirt), Prof Hesseling (with stick) and Paul Tanwarong

At Ntaba village. In the centre: the village practitioner (red shirt), Prof Hesseling (with stick) and Paul Tanwarong

Paul Wharin, December 2016

Retinoblastoma, the eye cancer

On our November 2016 visit to the three hospitals of the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Service, Prof Peter Hesseling and I were accompanied by Prof Mariana Kruger, the present head of paediatrics and child health at Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Hospital, Cape Town.

Mariana is an expert on the eye cancer, retinoblastoma and is responsible for the protocol with which we have treated treated this cancer since 2013. At Mutengene Baptist Hospital, S.W.Cameroon we met a boy called Remond aged 18 months who was receiving chemotherapy for retinoblastoma.  Remond and his mother are pygmies from the Baka people of S.E.Cameroon. They are genetically one of the most ancient people groups in Africa, second only to the bushmen of the Kalahari. Remond was found by 2 Catholic sisters who had heard that treatment for this cancer was freely available at Mbingo Baptist Hospital, N.W.Cameroon. They arrived at Mbingo only to find that the ophthalmic surgeon was away and so came all the way south to Mutengene. Remond and his parents have little money even for food and are being supported by the congregation of a local Baptist church. The ophthalmic surgeon, Dr Emmanuel Tambe makes no charge for surgical treatment and our charity (BTMAT) freely provides chemotherapy drugs and pays in-patient treatment costs. I find this a remarkable story of Christian compassion at work – and of advocacy for our programme.  How did the Catholic sisters know about our work?

Prof Hesseling, Remond and his mother, Prof Kruger

Prof Hesseling, Remond and his mother, Prof Kruger

Paul Wharin, December 2016