Meet Esther

Esther 2016

For Esther, a survivor of malnutrition, it was a simple offer to help her eat again that started her on a path of recovery.

Esther is a 12 year old girl from Tanzania. She loves to play and run and be told that she is pretty. She loves to be accepted and cared about. She is a child similar in many ways to any child of ours. But Esther’s face is different. Her jaw is very small, and incredibly so on the left side. Because of this, her jaw does not work properly. She can open her mouth enough to stick a thumb into. That’s all. Her teeth do not meet, so she cannot chew. Her speech is not clear, and she cannot make some sounds at all.  And at 10 years of age, she weighs just 40 pounds…smaller than most American kindergarteners!

In the African culture, if you look different, you are not accepted. You aren’t told that you are pretty. You don’t play with the other children. You do not get enough to eat. And if you can’t eat enough to gain weight, you don’t live very long.

When Esther was seen by Dr. Gary Gladieux while on a missions trip to Tanzania, his heart went out to her. He knew that in America, Esther’s jaw was fixable!  Esther was brought to America with the help of IMPACT WITH HOPE, Zion Lutheran Church in Waterville, the Lutheran Delegation from Tanzania and by donations from individuals who believe that Esther is important to God. Currently, Esther is staying at the LightHouse, a sanctuary for mending broken bodies, bones and hearts. She is under the loving care of Dr. Linda Greene, President/CEO of IMPACT WITH HOPE and volunteers.

In 2012, Esther had surgery on her jaw and another follow-up surgery on September, 2013.   In July, 2016, Dr. Christian Vercler did a placement of mandibular distractors on Esther at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.   We are so grateful to all the physicians in many specialties, orthodontists, dentists, hospitals, labs, and radiology departments that have all teamed up together to donate their time and abilities to change Esther’s life.

It’s amazing to witness Esther’s skills in reading, writing and math. Currently she attends St. Joseph’s School in Maumee, Ohio.  In addition, volunteers continue to tutor Esther in reading, writing and math.  We are very grateful for everyone’s continued contribution toward mending Esther’s broken body, bones, and spirit.

Because of everyone’s incredible generosity in sharing their amazing gifts and skills, Esther’s jaw is almost functional for the first time in her life!

Esther matters. Jesus said she does. “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these”. (Luke 18:16)

It is amazing to see the church…the body of believers…come together to help transform a life!  Esther from Tanzania is already touching so many other lives around her. We brought her here to bless her; instead, she is blessing us!  Esther! Nakupenda! (That’s “We love you” in Swahili!)