I never cease to be amazed by the compassion and energy that some children have to help others. This past weekend was a stunning example of this: A young boy from New Canaan, Hunter Libman, was preparing for his Bar Mitzvah and decided that for his “mitzvah” project (which means “good deed”) he would raise money to buy health insurance for the kids at the Good Shepherd Orphanage.
Like kids all over Africa, kids at the orphanage who get sick with malaria, typhoid, ringworm, and so many other illnesses are first treated with an “herbal remedy” administered by Auntie Aggie. They use the herbal treatments because the cost of taking a child to the local medical clinic is more than they can afford. So the kids will languish with illness for several weeks (getting slathered in herbs) rather than get the treatment that would help them feel better in a matter of days. Often, volunteers at the orphanage can’t stand seeing the kids suffer so they will take the kids to the clinic and pay the fee themselves... but there are not always volunteers there to come to the rescue.
Hunter had a goal of buying health insurance for the 100 kids at the orphanage, but it turns out that Hunter raised enough money for EVERY child in the Good Shepherd School to get insurance... all 400 of them... AND extra money to cover medicine and co-pays!!
Of all the things we’ve done to try to improve attendance rates at the school, this might very well be the best effective intervention yet. Keep the kids healthy and they will miss less school! And if they don’t miss school, they should perform better... and then they have a greater chance of passing the high school entrance exam... and then they can get a scholarship... and then their futures look entirely different than they ever would have imagined was possible.
And so, to Hunter I say “Mazel Tov!!” Who knows how many lives you will save, and how many lives you will change, with this one “good deed”.