In 2005, after several trips to Africa for business, Ed and Wendy Bjurstrom founded CompassioNow, then called Care Now Foundation. Their goal was to provide medical care to the “world’s least served” now instead of waiting for bureaucracy and government to step in. AIDS, malaria, typhoid, parasites, tuberculosis, and infection could all be controlled or cured with the proper medication and care. But in the bush, in the hard to reach villages, in the impoverished rural places, medicines and care other than a witch doctor’s potion are hard to come by. So, CompassioNow began partnering with small, rural, Christian clinics already in place in these impoverished areas. Over the years, we have watched these clinics grow and flourish in their abilities to reach out and care for the local peoples.

1000 Hills in South Africa, for example, began as a simple feeding center. When CompassioNow helped them build a medical clinic, they were able to transform an entire valley. Today, 1000 Hills sends trained volunteers out from the clinic into the neighboring areas to provide in-home care, to check on those who are home-bound, and to troubleshoot minor medical cases before they become major life-threatening problems. Villagers who need more urgent or aggressive medical care are then brought to the clinic for help. Many turn to the clinic for AIDS testing, family planning, and diabetes help.

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During the April to June quarterly reporting period, 1000 Hills saw 19,446 patients in their clinic and were able to treat them for $1 or less each. Dawn Leppan, founder and CEO of 1000 Hills, shared this case with us: On May 24, a 29 year old female was attacked by four males who wanted her cell phone. When she refused to give it to them, they struck her on the head. “She sustained a very deep cut on the head,” Leppan reports. “Fortunately it did not involve the bone but the wound was already septic within 24 hours. Since we always get a number of injured patients who prefer to come to us rather than going to hospital, we are now doing the suturing of minor wounds and we have the Antitetenus Toxiod to prevent the notifiable diseases e.g. tetanus. We managed to care for this patient without sending her to hospital and she has healed successfully. The patient is very thankful.”

In 2011, Ed and Wendy, along with CompassioNow board members Jack and Chris Faherty and Lee and Anne Kennedy, founded Compassion Tea Company with the express purpose of selling a high-quality tea product in an effort to boost the fund-raising efforts of CompassioNow. Today, through the help of funds raised through the sale of tea and the support of the 20 cafes in 12 states who sell Compassion Tea products, CompassioNow supports the medical work of Tanzania Christian Clinic, 1000 Hills Community Helpers, Passion Center for Children in Malawi, Village of Hope in Uganda, and Mission Medic Air in Zambia.

The Passion Center for Children in Zomba, Malawi, is the newest clinic to receive our support. In June, Ed and Wendy visited the clinic and learned more about their operations.

Ed reports, “Originally, the main complex of buildings at the Passion Center were supposed to be for administrative offices and staff apartments. However, the need to house children who had no-where else to live became apparent and the buildings were converted into dorms/residences for the rescued children. Currently, there are 32 boys and 25 girls in these buildings…. It is interesting to note that when the Passion Center was built in 2005, it was remote with nothing much in the immediate area nearby. The construction of Passion Center brought in electricity and water. As a result, the property immediately around the Passion Center became much more desirable. There was a land grab and people bought up the surrounding parcels of land, including speculators. Nearby is a primary school, which has over 1100 students. Approximately 180 kids are Passion Center kids, rescued or supported by the Passion Center, about 50 are resident in the dorms and 130 live in the village. The Passion Center feeds these children 2 meals a day and ensures they are in school.”

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Back in February, heavy rains and subsequent flooding left thousands of families displaced. In an area that is largely agricultural and impoverished, the floods threatened the livelihoods of most of the local peoples.

CompassioNow has been actively involved in supporting the relief efforts managed by the Passion Center for Children and the local Community Health Network. In June, Ed and Wendy carried over 90 lbs of medical supplies including CompassioNow drawstring backpacks filled with stethoscopes, blood pressure cuffs, and other supplies the CHN volunteers will need during their daily visits to patients in nearby villages. CompassioNow also donated the funds for the CHN to purchase another bicycle ambulance to help carry patients from the villages to better medical care.

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CompassioNow also donated funds to rebuild pit latrines at Mungunzi Primary School where many Passion Center children attend. During the February flooding, the pit latrines at the school were destroyed. Due to the lack of private and sanitary bathrooms, many children, especially girls, were staying home and not attending school.

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Said Wendy about their trip, “The trip to Malawi was an amazing experience. We are always encouraged by all the wonderful work being done by the people on the ground. And we find such joy in meeting with and working with the women and children and families being helped. There is HOPE for Africa!”

There are many child-headed households on the Zomba Plateau. One handicapped young man heads his household, which includes his 7 siblings. The home of 14 and 16 year sisters, another child-headed household, was badly damaged during the February floods and CompassioNow is helping to fund repairs to the home.

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Ed reflects, “The sobering fact is that once the poor are able to be taken to a government hospital, the usual wait to see a doctor is 4 days!!! In the meantime, there are usually no pain medicines, malaria medicines, IV’s or anything to be given them by the nurses. The government hospital rarely even has Tylenol in stock. This is a fact that we have not been able to begin to comprehend. We are so blessed here in the USA.”

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