Siyeni – a story of faithfulness

I wrote about Siyeni many times, both on this blog but also on Facebook. Many people have followed his story, prayed and gave, so this young man can have a chance to a better life.

If you don’t know his story, allow me to briefly update you, but I will leave some links towards individual posts written throughout the years, both here and on Facebook.

Year 2016.

Siyeni was 14 years of age when we first met him, almost 7 years ago now. It was 2016 and we were having an Evangelistic Camp in the village of Mpyupyu, when the villagers brought a young boy whose stomach was severely bloated. They’ve tried everything they could, both using traditional medicine but also the local clinics. When they came to us they said: “If the missionaries can’t do anything, he will surely die.”

Siyeni - a story of faithfulness
Picture taken on Apr. 2, 2016.

12 days later, we took him to the hospital for his first of many, many visits.

Siyeni - a story of faithfulness

Check this post from Nov, 2016: Hope Baptist Church, Ntangaleya.
Check this end of the year report from 2016: 2016-2017.

On Apr. 12, the doctors were talking about “kwashiorkor”, a protein-energy malnutrition illness. Translated from a native language in Africa, this means “the sickness the baby gets when the new baby comes”. Whatever that means, this wasn’t that.

On Apr. 15, after the first serious consultation, they were talking about a possible growth (tumor) in his abdomen.

Siyeni - a story of faithfulness

By Apr. 26, the first exploratory surgery was cancelled as the doctors saw the swelling of his abdomen going down. At that point, they thought he was getting better by himself.

This next picture was taken on May 20th, after the swelling got worse again. Now the doctors were ready to open him up to see what the problem was.

Siyeni - a story of faithfulness

After his first surgery, the blockage was removed but the issue was not solved yet. In the following picture, I’m at his home in Mpyupyu, next to his grandmother and immediate family.

Siyeni - a story of faithfulness

After yet another surgery, he was given a colostomy bag and told to wait several months. Yes, 1 colostomy bag was supposed to last him several month. In the village. Surrounded by dirt everywhere. This is how I found him just a few days later…

Siyeni - a story of faithfulness

Year 2017.

On Jan. 24, 2017, I was writing this post at a time in my life when I felt very overwhelmed with all these issues:

After that we went to see Siyeni, just to find out he ripped out his colostomy bag and fecal matter is oozing all over the place, attracting hundreds of flies all around him. Sadly, both him and his parents are mentally ill and they just don’t know the importance of keeping that place clean. With an open wound that goes straight to his gut, Siyeni is at great risk.

I am upset because the doctors refused to see him in December, due to the holiday season, and refused to see him in January, due to who-knows-what other reasons. February is so far away, given his condition, and I feel like we may lose him.

Facebook post, Jan. 24, 2017.

Just one day later, the results of the biopsy came in: Siyeni had Hirschsprung’s disease.

Apr. 3, 2017 – some complications prevent the doctors from reversing his colostomy. This was the first time they were talking about colostomy reversal surgery it! 5 years ago!

Year 2021.

Several years passed by, while we were delayed and postponed. “Come after 3 months”, “See you in 6 months” and then… covid times, when everything was delayed again. Only in 2021 we were able to get a doctor to seriously take a look at him again! At this point we have taken him to just about every hospital we could think of, public or private.

Siyeni - a story of faithfulness
The morning of a trip to a private clinic.

Bad news again: the area around his colostomy was not sanitary (?!?) and the doctors postponed his surgery until… Sep. 13th!

Siyeni - a story of faithfulness

If you want to know more details about this trip to the hospital, check this video I filmed then:

On Aug. 10, 2021, we found out about an American surgeon who agreed to see him the very next day.

Siyeni - a story of faithfulness

After consulting Siyeni, this doctor told us about another private clinic, about 4 hours south of us. We decided to go there as well.

On Aug. 12, 2021, the next day again, we were there:

Siyeni - a story of faithfulness

Siyeni had to stay in the hospital for 1 week, while the doctors took biopsies of his large intestine, in order to see how much of it was affected by Hirschsprung’s disease. The previous hospital we took Siyeni to have not kept any records, so this hospital had to start all the investigations from 0.

Year 2022.

Days became weeks, weeks became months and 2021 became 2022. On May 9, 2022 we finally found out that the samples taken in Aug. 2021 were… lost. As such, Siyeni had to go there again for his 5th biopsy collection. We can’t make this stuff up!
I encourage you to read my Facebook post from that day: Updates Siyeni.

On May 11, 2022, Siyeni is discharged from the hospital again and, yet again, we’re waiting for the results of the biopsies, provided they don’t get lost again!

After getting the results, I wrote this, on May 31, 2022:

The fight for Siyeni’s health continues. Today, he’s going back to Malumulo Hospital in Makwasa, Thyolo, some 2 hours driving distance from Zomba and almost 3 hours from his village.

The results were not the best, parts of his large intestine do not contain any ganglion cells. The ganglion cells job is to allow the bowel to relax. Without being able to relax, the bowel remains constricted and narrow. No stool can pass this point in the bowel and accumulates back up the bowel. The bowel then swells giving the appearance of the tummy looking bloated.

In the next 1-2 days, the doctors will decide whether Siyeni can have his colostomy removed or he will need to live with it for the rest of his life.

Facebook post, May 31, 2022.

Jul. 1, 2022 – Siyeni is back in the hospital, prepped for the colostomy reversal surgery. For some bizarre reasons, the doctors change the surgery and collect more biopsies.

Jul. 12, 2022 – back in hospital, scheduled for another surgery. That also fails.

On Nov. 18, 2022, I write this:

This week Samuel has taken him to the hospital, well over 4 hours driving distance one way. When he got back, the doctors called that the xray machine wasn’t working and he needs to go back after Siyeni and his grandfather. This in a time when fuel is very scarce!

At any rate, long story short, he was brought in Zomba for xray and hopefully we will close this chapter this coming week.

Please keep on praying for this young boy.

Facebook post, Nov. 18, 2022.

Year 2023.

Finally, on Jan. 17, 2023, he is admitted again, for surgery to reverse his colostomy.

Siyeni - a story of faithfulness
Jan. 17, 2023.

Thousands of people were praying and the surgery finally happened!!! On Jan. 23, 2023, I wrote:

GREAT NEWS: Siyeni’s colostomy reversal surgery has been completed and he is now able to function as normal! As a quick reminder, we discovered him in 2016, suffering from an advanced stage of Hirschsprung disease. The villagers brought him to us as a last resort, “maybe the missionaries can do something, otherwise he will die.”

Siyeni has been in and out of hospitals countless of times and underwent many surgeries. Today he walked out of the hospital as a new man, now being able to go to bathroom as normal, for the first time ever!

Praise the Lord!

Next month he will go for a checkup and, until then, we will take care of him as he needs a special diet. Nevertheless, I think I can say: mission accomplished!

Facebook post, Jan. 23, 2023.

I know this has been a very long article but, just think, we lived through this. Siyeni lived through this! Day in and day out, dragged to different hospitals, not understanding fully what’s happening. Many times his caretaker – his grandfather – wanted to give up hope. HIs mom and dad – who are mentally ill – mocked us for trying, and then accused us of doing something else with him. Initially, the entire village had hope, then they gave up hope. Delayed, frustrated, sad or angry – we pulled through this and had 1 desire in our hearts: to see this young man’s life saved.
The fact he wasn’t dead in 2016 – it was God’s miracle. The fact we were even there on that day – it was God’s miracle. The fact his colostomy didn’t become septic – that’s the biggest miracle of them all.

Siyeni - a story of faithfulness

It took us 7 years but his journey seems to be finally over. Just think, he was 14 years of age when it all began. Today, he is almost 22!

But this story is not about Siyeni’s survival despite all the reasons he had to die. Oh no, it’s a story of faithfulness. First and foremost, you, our prayer supporters have faithfully kept Siyeni in your prayers. Thank you for that!

Then, you faithfully gave towards our ministry and, from your donations, we were able to pay his medical bills, pay for transport, pay his food while in the hospital (food is not provided), pay his food while at home recovering, pay for his medication and cover every expense, big or small, related to his care in these past 7 years.

I cannot forget about Samuel, my friend and my coworker in Malawi, because this is a story of his faithfulness as well. He took Siyeni and his grandfather to the hospital every time they had to go and every time I couldn’t go myself. Samuel drove for them short on trips and long trips, many times leaving his house at 5 in the morning and arriving back home after dark. Several times he bought clothes for Siyeni or gave some from his own kids at home. He gave Siyeni’s grandfather money or bought different things they needed while in the hospital and never once did he ask to be reimbursed! Samuel always said he wants to serve and help!

I wouldn’t want to leave out Stanley, also a friend and coworker in Malawi, who managed these trips to different hospitals while I personally was out of the country. He sorted out the funds so that Samuel can go. I am grateful to pastor Misinde, Siyeni’s pastor and grandfather, who faithfully stood by him every single time Siyeni was in the hospital. At times it wasn’t easy for him, as he grew tired of it all and was later accused of doing it for money. Malawi’s healthcare system requires every patient to have a caretaker and, in Siyeni’s case, no one else from his family wanted to stay with him. No one. Pastor Misinde cooked food for him, washed him and cleaned him, effectively doing the work of a nurse.

This article would not be complete if I didn’t praise the Lord for His amazing faithfulness! Through it all, God provided everything was needed, EVERY SINGLE DAY. He used you, He used the doctors, He used us but God is the one who did it. Thank you, Lord!

What’s next:

We expect God’s faithfulness to continue, for this is His story! Siyeni is now recovering from his colostomy reversal surgery and he needs to follow a special diet, at least for some time. Hope for the Future in Malawi will continue to help him and, for now, that means providing that special diet. Sometimes next month, he will go for a checkup and I’m sure more will come in the months to come.

Siyeni’s journey is not over yet! Although he is healing on a physical level, we pray for his spiritual and mental healing. Yes, Siyeni is also suffering from a mental disorder and he needs our help there. We plan on looking at some options in the near future.

Siyeni heard the Gospel many times and, at least on one occasion, he made a profession of faith. Was it genuine? I have no idea and I don’t believe he knows either. What I do know is that we plan to continue to preach the Gospel there and continue to sow the seed, fully trusting that the Lord will bring the growth in His time.

Siyeni - a story of faithfulness
Siyeni needs a special diet, as well as soap to keep his wounds clean.

I have an album with more pictures on Google Photos: Siyeni’s journey.

To God be the glory!

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One Comment

  1. PTL for you, Samuel, Dr. Misinde and all the doctors and others who persevered through all this. It would have been so easy for all or any one of you to have given up.
    But God in His great mercy orchestrated all each of you went through to bring healing to this young man.
    I am so blessed and I’m sure others are as well by his story. We must all continue to pray his salvation is secure.
    To our God be the glory.

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