Rosina’s little boy coughed, and she could hear the phlegm in his chest. Pneumonia battered his lungs. Rosina knew what to expect; it wasn’t the first time one of her two sons had gotten sick with pneumonia.
“We often get sick,” Rosina says. “The most common sicknesses we face [are] pneumonia and cough and cold and headache. These kinds of sicknesses are very much rampant here in this area.”
The area Rosina lives in was situated at the foothills of a mountain range 3,000 meters in elevation. Because of the high altitude, villagers experienced cooler weather year-round, but the winter season brought exceptionally brutal cold temperatures. The cold, dry air chaffed the skin on their fingers, cheeks and lips, leaving them cracked and sore. It also dried out the membranes in their noses and throats, leaving people vulnerable to infections.
Though pneumonia was common, it could become life-threatening if not treated properly. Rosina had taken her son to the hospital, which was more than four hours away, for treatment. She didn’t have a lot of resources to spare—few people in her area did. Her husband, like others, had traveled to a neighboring district looking for work as a carpenter in house construction. He sent home what he could, and with this and what she was able to earn working in the fields during the short growing season, Rosina managed to provide her children with essentials but not much else.
Thankfully, her son recovered without medical bills sinking them deeper into poverty. It was only a matter of time, however, before he or his brother got sick again.
Cold drafts swooshed through the openings in Rosina’s rented home. The plastic sheets covering the areas susceptible to drafts were no match for the wind. With no radiator or central heating, the inside of her home felt like an icebox—especially at night. Rosina depended on her kitchen stove, a space about 2 feet by 3 feet, dug out in the floor of her home and filled with firewood ash, to heat their living area. Inadequate insulation, however, couldn’t keep the warm air in.
Rosina kept her sons in thick jackets throughout the daytime. At night, they huddled under the few blankets she had—worn and thin though they were from years of use. The 25-year-old mother did what she could to provide her boys with warmth, knowing sickness was inevitable.
“During winter, it gets very cold,” Rosina says. “To protect us from this kind of cold weather, we have to be thickly warmed with warm clothes. … [But] we don’t have enough money to buy good and warm clothes. We have to manage with what all we have.”
Rosina didn’t have much. But because she was part of a church led by a GFA pastor, Rosina’s needs didn’t go unnoticed. The church was planning a gift distribution for the area to provide families with thick blankets to keep them warm throughout the year. Her pastor, Dinesh, recommended Rosina to also receive a blanket. Her boys needed it; the blanket could help shield them from severe sickness. Rosina also needed it; the blanket could become a cocoon that kept out the cold while she slept, enabling her to shore up strength and energy for the day to come.
“I used to face difficulty to sleep at night because of not [having enough] sufficient warm and thick blankets, which, of course, affected my daytime activities,” Rosina says. “If I don’t have proper sleep at night, I cannot function properly. …
“I used to face difficulty to sleep at night because of not [having enough] sufficient warm and thick blankets, which, of course, affected my daytime activities. . . But then, when we received this blanket, it actually has impacted us so much positively, and we are all warm."
“But then, when we received this blanket, it actually has impacted us so much positively, and we are all warm. More than being warm, we are so glad and happy that the church decided to give us this blanket.”
After the gift distribution, Rosina walked back to the village, smiling as she carried her 3-year-old son on her back and a large, zippered bag in her right hand. She joined the other ladies as they examined their new, thick, beautifully designed blankets.
Rosina’s little boy looked with uncontained happiness at the thick blanket covered in pink flowers.
“My son was so happy,” she says. “He said that really they care for us [who] gave us this blanket.”
That night, as Rosina tucked her two young sons into bed, she knew she wouldn’t hear the sound of coughing in the morning. She and her boys would sleep in warmth and peace.
*Names of people and places may have been changed for privacy and security reasons. Images are GFA stock photos used for representation purposes and are not the actual person/location, unless otherwise noted.Previous Article Next Article