Although LEAP has been forced to cancel several medical missions due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19, our work has not stopped and cannot stop. While we cannot physically be with our patients, their families, and our in-country partners during this global pandemic, we continue to follow our Christ-centered mission and core values. By loving unconditionally and humbly serving humanity, we demonstrate our faith through actions. Therefore, we are exploring new ways to help our international mission partners such as donating medical supplies and equipment, funding new facilities, and conducting surgical consultations with local medical personnel to carry on the transformation of children’s lives. Our hearts and prayers continue to be with everyone in our LEAP family, those individuals impacted by the coronavirus, and the medical professionals who are risking their lives to care for COVID-19 patients.
We were blessed to serve this past February in Damoh, India shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns began. Our partner Central India Christian Mission (CICM) has been treating COVID-19 patients at their medical facilities and neighboring ones. As of November 2020, Madhya Pradesh, the state in which Damoh is located, has had over 185,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with over 3,000 deaths. After informing us that they were in need of ventilators in July, LEAP responded by sending funding for mobile ventilators and are exploring other ways to assist CICM in their patient care.
At the beginning of the pandemic, all COVID-19 cases in Belize were traced to people who had entered the country from the U.S. Because of the route of entry of the Coronavirus, Belize shut down entry into the country and extended the “state of emergency” for 60 days, which extended past the dates of our June mission. The likelihood of Belize lifting the ban in time for LEAP’s June mission was improbable, so the trip was cancelled. As of November 2020, Belize has had over 4,700 COVID-19 cases with 85 deaths.
LEAP recently funded the renovation of the dental clinic at Northern Regional Hospital in memory of our longtime volunteer Glenita Franklin, who passed away in 2019. Glenita participated on several Belize missions as a dental hygienist and was instrumental in building our dental program at the hospital. Donations received in her memory combined with funding from LEAP enabled the renovation of the clinic and purchase of new dental equipment.
As of November 2020, Zimbabwe has had over 8,700 confirmed COVID-19 cases with over 250 deaths. 95% of the cases are Zimbabwe citizens returning from neighboring countries (e.g., South Africa), Europe, and the U.S. Because of this, strict travel restrictions have been implemented.
While we would have loved to be in Zimbabwe in early September, bringing much-needed medical and surgical care to the children of Harare, we have remotely celebrated the fourth operating room, which was funded by LEAP. In August 2020, equipment was installed, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony commemorated the project’s completion.
Since there is still a backlog of cleft patients in Zimbabwe, LEAP sponsored a craniofacial surgical outreach at Harare Children’s Hospital in early November 2020. Local surgeons and medical professionals along with Celebration Ministries & Health staff evaluated 140 patients and selected 45 patients for surgery.