“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’” (Matt. 19:14) NIV.
Dr. Stefano Bolongaro is our new pediatric orthopedic surgeon at the hospital. He arrived in Niger a few months ago and it’s been great having him here. We are excited about the increased capacity we have as a hospital with his arrival, about his skills and talents, but most of all by his caring heart. Today he came by the art therapy room to give me some colored surgical tape because he thought that we might be able to use it and there was some extra. I was very excited to get it because sometimes it is hard to figure out how to decorate bandages, and this kind of colored surgical tape is perfect. The casts are easy, but when our patients have bandages and not casts, we want to make sure they do not feel left out.
As soon as Stefano came to the room, the children in the room called him to come in. They started shouting, “Doctor! Doctor!” After some coaxing, he stepped in. That wasn’t enough for the kids, and they told him that they wanted him to draw a picture. He immediately got on the floor and started to draw. The kids loved it.
They thought it was great that he was drawing along side them, and they each wanted a picture from him. After he finished drawing, he stayed for a bit and joked around with them. But after a few minutes, he told them that he needed to go back to work, since the consultation would begin soon. But the children didn’t want him to leave. They kept trying to get him to stay, and it was so clear that they truly love him and were very comfortable with him. It was beautiful to see. He kept making them laugh with funny faces, and they couldn’t stop laughing and giggling. When I reached for the camera to take a picture of the group, one of the patients jumped into his lap.
Dr. Stefano didn’t spend that much time in the art therapy room. Maybe a total of 20 minutes. But it meant so much to the children. Where else do doctors get down on the floor to play and draw with their patients? That is what I love about CURE, and what I love about the people I get to work with.
At CURE we talk a lot about our values as an organization, and some of them are being child-like and Christ-like. That might seem kind of vague and hard to pin down or define. Someone might reasonably ask, what does it mean to be child-like or Christ-like.
This is what we mean by being child-like and Christ-like. This is what it looks like. This is creating an environment that is healing and full of hope. This is welcoming our patients and treating them like our own. Like family. This is what it looks like to treat our patients like our own sons and daughters, our own brothers and sisters. This is what it looks like to be a family. This is what it looks like to heal the sick and proclaim the Kingdom of God.