5,000 Babies!

The following is an adaptation of Jessica Schaeffer’s recent newsletter to her supporters.

On Monday, Oct. 5, the 5,000th baby was delivered at Koutiala Hospital for Women and Children, less than three and a half years since our May 2006 opening here in Mali!

What a privilege it is to make a difference in the lives of many moms and babies at this hospital, in a country rated by the organization Save the Children to be one of the worst in the world to be a mother or child.

Preventing Double Tragedies

Recent research shows that more than two million babies and mothers die worldwide each year as a result of complications during childbirth. Each death is a double tragedy, since nearly all of these deaths could be prevented.

Koutiala Hospital has daily opportunities to prevent these double tragedies. And as we provide good medical care, we have open doors into the hearts and lives of people who need Jesus. One example is Nana.

My friend Nana (a Tired Mom)

Last fall Nana delivered triplets at her home in Koutiala with the help of her teenage daughters. She hadn’t received any prenatal care, so didn’t know she was having triplets. Maybe since she’d already had three sets of twins, having more than one baby wasn’t a big shock?

Her triplets were quite small, about three pounds each. One of Nana’s friends told her she should bring them to our hospital to be checked (we have a growing reputation as the place to bring premature babies). So a few days after their birth, Nana arrived here with her triplets and spent the next six weeks at our hospital.

The family just barely manages to get by on the money her husband makes. (He travels to nearby towns on big market days to sell flip-flops.) So when the time came for the three babies to be discharged, one of my missionary colleagues covered the $200 bill. Nana and her husband sent their oldest son, 15, to work in another town in order try to earn a little money to help the family pay the bill.

Malian Family Struggles

In many ways, Nana and her family are a typical Malian family. They have a lot of children (with a few more multiple births than usual, although multiple births are more common in West Africa). A few of their kids died before reaching age five; meanwhile, about one in four Malian children die before this age.

In January 2009, a couple of months after the triplets-“Sara,” “Bintu,” and “Miriam”-were discharged from the hospital, Sara died. Realizing how sick her baby was, Nana was taking her to a nearby health clinic when the infant expired.


I was very upset when I learned this, but when I visited Nana a week or so later, I was surprised at how accepting she was of the loss of another child. Like many Malians, life for Nana is about survival, and she must keep on going to care for the rest of her family. She was just as warm and gracious as always.

Nana doesn’t yet know Jesus as her Savior. I’ve had opportunities to share the good news with her in my fairly functional, although elementary Bambara, and I’ve also given her a family Bible. She doesn’t know how to read (less than 30 percent of Malians older than age 15 are literate). But one of Nana’s older kids said they would read it to her.

Would you pray with me for Nana and her family? She is a dear friend, and she also represents so many other Malians whom I have grown to love, and whom God loves infinitely. He desires that they find life in His Son.

Thank you for praying for our hospital as we participate in what God is doing in Mali. Thanks, too, for your gifts to the Great Commission Fund, which supports me in my work.

What You Can Do

Please also pray for . . .

  • The many patients who have heard the good news at Koutiala Hospital, that they will understand Jesus’ great love for them and give their lives to Him.
  • My Malian and missionary colleagues who are working long hours with many difficult and sad cases during malaria season. Pray that God will protect them physically, spiritually, and emotionally from the attacks of Satan.


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