Food. Essential to health. And in a hospital setting, essential to healing. It can make the difference between life and death.
Emily suffers from epilepsy. During a seizure, she fell into her cooking fire and sustained significant burns to her body. Family rushed her to Pioneer Christian Hospital, a 60-bed facility in Impfondo, Republic of the Congo. Surgeons had to remove most of Emily’s right arm and parts of her left.
Serving vulnerable populations such as refugees and those suffering from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and leprosy, Pioneer Christian Hospital, like many in the developing world, is strapped for resources and could not provide food for its patients. That was the responsibility of the patient’s care provider, usually a relative. Too often, patients from these transient populations had no one to provide for them, so nutritional support was insufficient or unreliable. Without nourishment, healing was impossible.
Emily’s family, now hours away from their village, employment, and home, were stressed at the thought of providing for Emily’s needs during a long term stay at the hospital. The hospital staff and missionaries did all they could to assist the family, even providing some money for food for Emily. But Emily wasn’t healing and was becoming more frail by the day. Then it was discovered that her daughter, her supposed care provider, was spending the money on alcohol. Emily, now a burden to her family, was not being fed and was going to die.
Candice Scatliff, a missionary and nutritionist serving at SonSet Solutions, had witnessed situations similar to Emily’s on a visit to the hospital in 2016. It was then that God burdened her with the seemingly impossible task of creating a sustainable feeding program that would meet the nutritional needs of all inpatients.
A funding campaign was launched and the Lord provided! Candice returned to Congo in 2017 to hire and train staff, iron out distribution logistics, and establish local leadership. Operating on a strict budget and with limited space and skill, the hospital now meets the daily nutritional needs of all inpatients.
The program started in time for Emily and, thanks to hot nourishing meals, she is healing and gaining independence by the day. In fact, she can now feed herself! More importantly, she has learned about Jesus and now attends the hospital’s chapel and can be seen praying to our powerful God. Her victory story is one of many at Pioneer Christian Hospital. To God be the glory!
Written by Candice Scatliff and Marla Bender