A Tanzanian Christian woman, an American white woman, a Kenyan Muslim woman and a young Maasai woman with Elephantiasis all speaking different languages travel to Kenya. You may ask how did this strange group come about, and why were they in Kenya? Well it all starts with a young Maasai woman named Seratiani.
Seratiani is suffering from a severe case of lymphatic filariasis, or elephantiasis. Seratiani comes from a traditional Maasai village in Mnindi, Tanzania. Seratiani got elephantitis after being married off to a man in another village when she was very young and was bitten by a mosquito that transmitted the parasitic worm, causing elephantiasis. Seratiani’s husband then sent her back to her family, no longer wanting her due to her deformed leg.
After getting to know Seratiani and seeing what great strength, resilience, heart, determination and hope she had, there was no question that we needed to help this truly amazing girl. Ashley Washburn, founder of Asante Sana For Education (ASFE), a nonprofit that whose mission is to improve Tanzanian lives and communities through education by sponsoring students, building schools in communities with no access to education, and allowing students to pursue their educational ambitions in Tanzania, met Seratiani when she was scouting out the location that is now Mnindi Primary School in 2011. Immediately, Ashley wanted to help her. Soon after that, the long search for a surgeon who could help ease Seratiani’s suffering began.
In September of 2012 the search began in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. However in 2014 Seratiani got pregnant, meaning we would not only have to wait for Seratiani to give birth, but wait till her baby was old enough to be without her mother to do any medical procedures.
On December 26th, 2014, Seratiani gave birth to a beautiful baby girl named Ruth and the search could continued. In 2015 we continued looking for a surgeon in Tanzania and America, however, each of the hospitals we visited either turned us down or offered to amputate her leg.
Despite our failures our in Dar es Salaam and USA Ashley was still determined to find a surgeon. Just to our luck, Ashley was connected to a surgeon through a friend, Debby Hyde, in Connecticut, USA on the Board of Oasis Global. OASIS Global is an international group of leading infection control professionals, infectious disease physicians, surgeons, and other health care practitioners committed to bringing affordable and effective infection control practices to low and middle-income countries. Debby was attending a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya where she talked about and showed pictures of Seratiani to Dr. Peter Nthumba. In March 2016, after nearly 5 years of searching and planning, we flew Seratiani to Kenya for a consult and finally had her scheduled for surgery to repair her badly deformed leg at AIC Kijabe Hospital outside Nairobi, Kenya with Dr.Peter Nyhumba.
Now this is where the beginning of the story comes into play. In early July this year (2016) Seratiani left her village, family, and sweet 1 ½ year old daughter Ruth to spend approximately 2 months at the AIC Kijabe Hospital outside Nairobi, Kenya. Ashley Washburn, as well as Emma Chami, assistant director for Asante Sana For Education, and Seratiani departed for Kenya where they met up with Zura Mahoud, and Kenyan student Ashley hosted in 2015-16 who attended Northfield Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts, USA. As you can probably imagine, this unique group of women caught a lot of attention along the way. It’s not often you see Christian Tanzanian woman, a Kenyan Muslim woman, a Maasai girl with elephantiasis, and a white woman all together in one group.
During her first 3 weeks in the hospital, Seratiani had her leg elevated to reduce the fluid and soften the skin. This is then followed by an 8-hour surgery to remove the excess tissue and put her leg back together, scheduled for July 28th. After a long 3-5 week recovery Ashley will return her to her daughter and village. Next year she will have another surgery to reconstruct her foot that has been badly damaged as a result of her deformed leg.
In order to cover her approximate 2 months in the hospital, her transportation to and from Tanzania and Kenya, her multiple surgeries, a lifetime supply of compression stockings, and an education fund her daughter Ruth, we are setting a goal of $10,000.
We thank everyone who took time to read about Seratiani. We like to especially thank those who donated money towards this cause. Seratiani’s quality of life will be tremendously improved as a result of your generous donations.