Malawian child, Lemos Tsatawe has flown back from Israel and is at his home village at Cape Maclear in Mangochi after he had just had a life-saving heart surgery on September 2 at the Wolfson Medical Center by the volunteer medical team members of Save a Child’s Heart, in Israel.
According to a statement from Save a Child’s Heart made available to Nyasa Times, Malawi is the 62nd country as a member of the Israeli NGO, that is conducting free lifesaving heart surgery at the Wolfson Medical Centre.
“MASHAV, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation, has been a long-standing partner of this Israeli NGO,” says the statement.
“Reshina, Lemos’ mother, knew that something was wrong with her son early on in his life after he experienced breathlessness, fainting, and persistent stomach pain.
“She brought him, at four months old, to a local clinic, where she was told that he had a heart issue.
“The mother was told to wait. They did not know anyone who had suffered from heart disease and had no means of reaching an immediate solution.
“They waited until they were referred to Queen Elizabeth, a five-hour- journey by bus and hitchhiking.
“Lemos’ mother was afraid from the moment she found out her son was ill, but the fear was incomparable to that she felt when finally told that there was nothing that could be done in Malawi to save the child.
In their efforts to try to find help for Lemos, they heard news that another former aid worker, Irit Rabinovich from Israel, was returning to Malawi for the first time in 15 years. She contacted her on Facebook to ask if she could help.”
The statement says Irit visited Malawi and stayed in Cape Maclear after completing her Israeli army service as a 20-year-old in the mid-nineties.
“At the time, the village had no electricity or running water. Irit had intended to stay a week, but compelled by the villagers to stay awhile, as their guest, Irit lived in Cape Maclear for 9 years, transforming the day-to-day life of the villagers in the meantime.
“In an effort to combat the village’s worst ailments, Irit began a free food program for 1,500 local children, coupled with a handwashing initiative that helped reduce the spread of communicable diseases.
“She went on to create a ‘food for work’ program too, employing and feeding the village’s adult population, while building a secondary school, houses, and even a health clinic in her home.”
Then Irit left Malawi in 2004 back to Israel where she began a family but her impact on Cape Maclear remained lasting.
The health clinic that had begun in her host home would be taken over by a volunteer doctor who committed to a lifetime of service and it was also the place where Lemos’ family would first learn of his heart disease.
Lemons was able to live with his symptoms for a large portion of his life, but beginning last year, Lemos’ health began to deteriorate.
News of Irit’s return excited the village too; Lemos’ uncle, John, heard the news and was fast to email Irit and ask if she knew of a solution for his nephew.
When asked how she knew of Save a Child’s Heart, Irit replied that as an Israeli she had simply heard of the work of the organization.
It was an obvious choice then, to reach out to Save a Child’s Heart once she learned of Lemos’ case.
More than that, Lemos’ father had been the one to lend her help while she sought to increase her humanitarian activities in Malawi and this was her way to give back for that kind gesture.
Irit contacted Save a Child’s Heart and helped the family apply to be accepted for a life-saving procedure in Israel.
Because of lack of access to care, thousands of children, with treatable heart defects, die each year. Lemos’ case was accepted at Save a Child’s Heart.
The statement quoted Lemos’ mother, Reshina as saying: “Every day, I would check in the morning if my son was still alive. I could not sleep.”
To Irit and Lemos’ family’s relief, Lemos was finally able to make the trip to Israel with his mother in August of 2019, where Reshina said; “I now can actually sleep because I know he is finally in good hands.”
Lemos has since resumed his education as he aspires to become an engineer and also dreams of playing soccer and wants to play in an elite league back in his village.
“He could no longer make the 15-minute walk to school and it became increasingly clear that he would die without intervention.
“Meanwhile, in Israel, Irit was preparing for her first trip back to Malawi in 15 years and was excited to bring her family to the place that had welcomed her so warmly as a young woman and to introduce them to the locals she had stayed in contact with back in Israel, like children she had helped educate who were now teachers.
Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :