Lifting Another’s Burdens by Alafia Cole

As I entered the Alé Alé House of Hope that morning, I was struck by all the drawings and inscriptions that lovingly decorate the walls of the compound. The illustration of the Good Samaritan stood out to me, and I paused in the middle of my busy morning to meditate on the story of the man who freely gave his time and money to help a stranger. Then my attention shifted back to my schedule for the day, and I joined other staff members for a leadership team meeting on the balcony overlooking the tightly packed shacks of the Kroo Bay Slum Community.

We had just finished praying and reading through our agenda when two girls from Kroo Bay, Grace and Joy, rushed in carrying their sick mother, Kumba. Both girls had grown up attending the WMF Kroo Bay Good News Club, and one of the sisters had faithfully participated in our Lighthouse program, being sponsored through school and currently preparing for law school entrance exams. The girls’ fear for Kumba was palpable, and I shouted at the top of my voice for someone to alert our medical staff. They were soon on the scene, comforting and supporting the girls and assessing her situation.

Because Kumba was quite vulnerable and faced many challenges, Grace and Joy endured a lot of instability in their early years. Later on, when a former WMF staff member found a safer living situation for the girls with a local woman, the girls brought her to Christ. Now she is a part of the WMF International Christian community in Freetown. Our medical staff decided that Kumba should be seen at a hospital, and I stayed with the girls as we took her to the 34th military hospital, where we were told to seek help at another hospital.

When I finally made it home that evening, my three girls ran to meet me at the door, expecting to hear funny stories about my day and eat dinner together as a family. But then my phone rang. Kumba’s condition was deteriorating and she was being moved again to another hospital. The pull of my family was strong, but I knew that that night God was calling me to stand with Grace and Joy. So I left my girls upset and disappointed and rushed back to the hospital.

While the situation was an emergency, the process of getting Grace and Joy’s mother the medical help she needed was maddeningly slow. After waiting over an hour, the doctor finally met with us to share his diagnosis, and we learned that Kumba would have to be moved yet again to a bigger hospital with more resources to handle the situation. Once we all arrived at the larger medical facility, it was challenging to get a doctor to attend to us. When we were able to see a doctor and had more tests done, we still felt like we had more questions than answers and no clear picture of what the problem was. I paid the hospital bills and returned home at around 11 p.m. that night. Despite constant care, support and treatment Kumba passed away two days later.

It was heartbreaking to watch the girls grieve for their mother, but they were never alone. The Word Made Flesh Community and I walked alongside them – ready to offer a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on. As they said goodbye to one family member, we reminded them through our actions and our presence that their community was also their family and was ready to walk through life’s most trying times together with them.


Alafia Cole