Changing Assouma's world

            Assouma Koumare of Mali was only 5 years old when Healing the Children brought her to Michigan and changed her world.

            Physical healing often brings a child spiritual healing, and what might be called social healing, as well.  Assouma was a candidate for all three.  She was born with bladder exstrophy – her bladder outside her body.  It leaked urine constantly, and her family had no diapers for her.  She was always wet, and she always smelled bad.  It’s much too easy to imagine the kind of teasing she heard from the other children in her village.  Life must have seemed very dismal.

            When Assouma arrived in Detroit, she was greeted by her host family, Randy and Beth Koch and their children.  They took her to their home in Grass Lake to get to know her and to help her wait for her surgery, which took place at Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor.  Dr. Harry Koo reconstructed her urinary system, and as a result, Assouma can lead a much more normal life.  By the time she was ready to return to Mali, she only needed to wear a pull-up at night, and all unpleasant odors had vanished.

            At home with the Kochs, Assouma found she loved American food, swimming, and boat rides.  She learned to ride a bicycle, and she delighted in watching her host brothers fish.  She met the physical challenges that came her way with impressive energy.

            Assouma’s homecoming was extraordinarily gratifying, in light of her past experiences.  The village threw an impressive party for her, and representatives from other villages miles away came to see her.  Everyone was amazed by the “new” Assouma, and they danced and celebrated for hours.  On that day, she found a new place in her community, and teasing and insults were distant memories.

            Wouldn’t you call that changing the world, one child at a time?

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