Giving Hope to the Hopeless

(Jon and Anja Erickson are CAMA workers who offer compassionate care to people in Guinea who otherwise would not receive medical help. The Erickson’s recent letter gives a startling view of the frustrating and heartbreaking obstacles they daily face.) 
     Dry season came late to Guinea this year. But after listening to the news from Chad, Burkina Faso, and Mali, I thought things weren’t too bad here. Last year in our area there was a disease in the rice, and much of it was destroyed. This year is different. The rice harvest was better. But the hunger season was worse and longer because of last year’s poor harvest. 
     Hope Clinic saw many malnourished children this year. Poverty and culture are two reasons. Poverty prevents people from buying good food like eggs, meat, and peanut butter for their kids. They believe that meat is for men and if kids have eggs, they learn to steal. Salad and fruit are not really a part of what is considered a necessary diet. When mango season comes, the kids gorge on the green mangos, but they last only a couple of months.  
     The malnourished kids have always been here, but as we become well-known, more are brought to the clinic. Kids with malnutrition are very difficult to treat. Their parents want a pill or, better yet, a shot and an IV. They do not believe that food is the problem. And malnutrition, even if all goes well, takes time to heal. I doubt that we will save 50 percent of the kids that come in with malnutrition. 
     Odille is an example of Guinea’s poverty. She is a little girl, living in N’Zao with her parents in a mud-brick, mud-floor house. Because there is no electricity in most villages and the cost of kerosene is too high, Odille’s family could not afford to light lanterns at night. Meanwhile, rats burrowed holes into her bedroom floor, and snakes followed the rats. One night a couple of months ago, Odille walked into her bedroom in the dark and stepped on a snake. It bit her. In her haste to leave, she stepped on it again, and it bit her again.  
     Odille had several medical advisors. The first advised putting a black rock on her that is supposed to absorb poison from her wounds. This was started, but I do not know for how long. The second advised putting a mud paste on her body that often has tree leaves ground up in it. This advisor said the black rocks had to go or the mud would not work. Advisor number two won, and Odille was plastered with mud.  
     Four days later in extreme pain, her leg swollen to double its size, mumbling incoherent phrases, Odille was brought to Hope Clinic. She was given antibiotics, and the long road to recovery started. After two months and two skin grafts, she is better, but much remains to be done. We charge $1.25 a night to stay at the hospital and $4.00 for surgery. Her family will have a hard time paying for this, but we will continue to give care. 
     Hope Clinic continues to grow and face some challenges. The patients come in greater and greater numbers, and we must turn many people away each day. The government wants us to serve the people in our immediate area first before extending ourselves to others. The people in our government boundaries are mostly Mano people. These people have an opportunity to hear of Jesus through many churches established in their area. The Mano people are coming in greater and greater numbers to the clinic.  
     This means we can no longer offer help to others outside government boundaries. Thousands of Koniake live within three miles of the clinic and have made up 50 percent of our patients in the past, but we can no longer see them. 
     We hired a nurse and a person to run the pharmacy so that we can try to see more people. The problem of finding a person of character and having medical knowledge continues to plague us. We received our order for drugs four months late this year, and even so, we will run out before next year’s order arrives. Saskia and Anja work too much to spend time on training and preparing procedures for emergencies.  
     Most of the big buildings are in place, and now the hard part begins—to form a team and learn to work together. I am way out of my league in this and feel lost. 
     Our solar panels have been installed, but the device that changes 24 volts to 110 volts was faulty and had to be returned to the manufacturer. We struggle to get water. It sometimes comes and then will be gone for three weeks. Try to run a clinic without water! We dug two wells last year near the clinic to have a back-up supply but ran into bedrock before reaching water. 
     So our newsletter is really crying out for you all to pray.


  1. For health workers to teach nutrition to mothers and school children. 
  2. For culture to change so that people will see that feeding good food to children is important. 
  3. For the poor of Africa. How to help or not to. For good education for children. For a change in how people receive truth. 
  4. For Odille to be healed. 
  5. For our clinic: to find people called to work with us, team building, time for training nurses, and for short-term teams that will be coming in March. 
  6. For the Koniake and our ministry to them. 
  7. For our water problem to be solved at Hope. 
  8. For next years order of drugs to come quickly and that we can pay for it without raising our prices. 
  9. For Anja’s work in the villages to continue to grow.

     Blessings of Joy. Thanks for all your support.  
     —Jon and Anja Erickson 
Hope Clinic was dedicated recently with guests from Mali, Burkina Faso, Liberia, and Alaska. Despite obstacles to be overcome before the event, the celebration gave glory to God for what He is doing through this outreach.


Get Involved...


We cannot “Live the Call Together” unless prayer is central to all we do.
Pray with us »


Is God calling you to service? We’re here to help you connect your passion with God’s purpose.
Serve with The Alliance »


Help build Christ’s Church by supporting the ministry and workers of The Alliance.
Give today »