Youthful Faces focuses on helping children in Kenya who are orphans—with ongoing education, food, shelter, and healthcare. Helping these children has been our mission for the past 14 years. But just last week, a very poor, sick boy was identified by our volunteer team in Kenya. And ever since they shared Samuel’s photo and story, we can’t stop thinking that our Youthful Faces family has to find a way to help this child.
Samuel is a 13 years old and lives in poverty in Bungoma, Kenya. Bungoma is located in western Kenya, in a county bordered by Uganda. It’s an agricultural community. Many poor families like Samuel’s don’t have electricity or running water in their very basic, one-room homes. Women and girls spend hours each day just to find clean drinking water. Farm work is hard and seasonal. Periods of drought cause suffering to everyone. Life isn’t easy.
When Samuel was five, he developed a tumor in his jaw which grew quickly and dramatically in size. The Youthful Faces volunteer team learned that Samuel’s tumor is so large, that he hasn’t been able to eat real food in five years! It affects his ability to speak and eat. He hasn’t been able to go to school or play with friends since 2011. His parents are unskilled and generally unemployed. They have very little education. Samuel’s mother and father keep him in the house—isolated—because they are embarrassed by the way tumors have disfigured his face. His current situation is tragic.
That’s why Samuel’s parents reached out to Youthful Faces and to our volunteer team in Kenya. They realize that that Samuel is in desperate need of medical care. He has never been examined by a qualified physician or given any diagnostic tests. His parents can’t afford either. A healthcare center in Bungoma didn’t know how to diagnose or treat Samuel. A local doctor told the family that they would need US$20,000 for treatment. Samuel’s parents are frightened and hopeless. Their average income is less than US$20 a month.
A physician friend of Youthful Faces in the US examined Samuel’s photos and said:
This looks like a teratoma—although there are several [different kinds of] benign and malignant tumors this could be. If this young man showed up in clinic [here in the US], we would try and interest a nationally known children’s hospital in taking [Samuel] on as a charity case.He needs a CT scan of the head and neck and biopsy to determine what this is—and what type of surgical approach would be necessary.
Samuel is very likely a multi-disciplinary case—with ENT, plastic surgery, general surgery, and multiple follow-up surgeries to approximate a normal appearing young man.
Samuel’s future treatment and care are daunting. Teratoma tumors in the facial region are rare, with often dramatic clinical presentation. Samuel’s quality of life is severely compromised by his medical condition, lack of diagnosis and treatment, lack of access to education, and social isolation.
Youthful Faces is a small organization with a small pool of supporters. But we’re blessed, and we have big hearts. Samuel’s parents reached out to Youthful Faces, asking if we could help their son smile again.
As you may know, Youthful Faces is not able to contribute US$20,000 to Samuel’s care, but we can help put this young man on a path to diagnosis, treatment, and a better life.
Youthful Faces is currently seeking donations to establish a medical fund for Samuel. We need a minimum of US$1,000 to enable Samuel’s parents to take him to a quality hospital for testing and diagnosis. Together, we can help Samuel take a step toward hope. We hope that everyone who reads this post will help—and then share Samuel’s story with family and friends.
Youthful Faces is an unique non-profit organization. We are small. No one is making a salary. Donations are not spent on overhead, marketing, advertising, or administration. We depend on a group of dedicated volunteers in Kenya and the US to change lives—one child a time.
Please consider making a contribution toward Samuel’s medical care. And check back here for updates, as we do our best to accompany Samuel on his road to recovery.