A Child’s Life for the Price of a Coffee?

By Brett and Sheri MacLean, serving at Koutiala Hospital in Mali

Editor’s note: Just 77 percent of Malians live on less than $2 a day, about the cost of a day’s hospitalization in Koutiala Hospital. Bargain-basement medical costs like this, however, are often affordable only because of generous donors’ gifts.

As we turn off her baby’s oxygen, Isa’s mother starts to bawl and runs outside so that she can hide her tears. Isa’s dad sits stone-faced.

He has asked for days to be allowed to take his premature baby home. We have refused. Today, he says that they are leaving regardless of what we say.

No Money

Why is he doing this? Doesn’t he realize that his son will die within an hour of turning off his oxygen? We have even removed Isa’s oxygen to show his father Isa’s struggle to live. Nevertheless, the father says that they will be going home.

When our Malian chaplain pulls Isa’s father aside, he soon discovers that they have no more money for medical care. Today, all of their money has run out.

Pricing a Child’s Life

Sadly this is life in Mali-having to let your child die due to lack of funds, even when the price of oxygen is just $2 per day and hospital care is an additional $1.

Can you even imagine having to put a monetary value on the life of your child … much less at a cost of no more than a cup of StarbucksTM coffee?

Yet families here are accustomed to this. In fact, children die so frequently that Malians don’t even have funerals for them because the expenses are too much. Funerals are reserved for those who have at least reached their teenage years.

Generous Donors Give Life

One of the most frequent greetings offered to parents of a deceased child is “Ala ka balo ta segi a no na” . . . “May God give you another child to replace this one.”

In my opinion, a more appropriate greeting following the death of a child would be “I’m sorry your baby died because you are poor.” Although these words are not spoken, it is unfortunately true.

Thankfully, Isa didn’t have to die.  Because of faithful donors’ gifts we were able to tell his father that we would cover the rest of his hospitalization costs. Now Isa is at home, growing and doing well!

Isa, by the way, is the Arabic word for “Jesus.” Isa’s father is a teacher of the predominant religion here, yet he was so amazed at the care that was given in Jesus’ name, and the miracle of his child’s life, that he named his son after Him.

Learn More

Check out some of our videos describing our work at Koutiala Hospital, where women and children’s medical needs are absolutely staggering.

What You Can Do

Pray for Isa and his family to know Christ, the giver of eternal life.

Your support of Alliance Great Commission Ministries allows dedicated international workers like the MacLeans to continue their work-offering new life to the hopeless in Jesus’ Name.

You can also give to the Koutiala Hospital Benevolent Fund. (This designation will go toward assisting other impoverished families like Isa’s who have no money for their children’s medical care.)


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