The Christian organization Hope and Healing International is welcoming a new Executive Director who has 25 years of experience helping children in poverty get the medical care they need.

"I ran hospitals and have been doing this work, especially in Africa, helping children for 25 years," says Kyalo Mwalimu, who recently stepped into the new role of Executive Director at Hope and Healing International. "We'd do surgery, spiritual ministry and training, and Hope and Healing was one of our partners. When this position came up, my wife and family just began to pray."

Mwalimu and his family made the move from Nairobi, Kenya, to Ontario for the new position in December of 2023. 

"My driving force is to bring justice to children that's been denied for many years. We have children that have been waiting for surgeries, for wheelchairs, for interventions. For me, saying 'Yes, I am here Lord. Help me talk about Hope and Healing so many other people can catch the fire and do the same."

The Reality for Children in Developing Countries with Disabilities or Medical Needs

"One of them is access," says Mwalimu. "I just came from Malawi. There are less than 10 orthopedic surgeons in a country of 20 million people. We have patients that have been waiting for years."

Part of the ministry's role is to bring more medical equipment into countries that need it. 

"The biggest problem is stigma. A child born with a physical disability what happens is that society expects every child to be 'normal.' When you have a child that has clubfoot, cleft lip, or bowed legs, the community sees it as a curse. The African society is very close-knit. If you're ostracized, you know, where do you go for water? Or school? Or church? You cannot play with other kids and I think that's more damaging than anything else."

Mwalimu has seen the impact that medical treatment has on a child, and he shares how truly life-changing it is. 

"(When they receive the medical care), it's like giving them a new lease on life. One boy was burnt when he was 4 years old and he could not walk for 10 years. There was no access to care. He lived in a remote place. Both legs were completely fuzed together so it took a year of surgeries. When he came to the hospital, he couldn't look you in the eye. Fast forward a year later, this boy couldn't stop talking to people, laughing and talking. There was so much excitement."

This is the heart behind A Group Hug, asking Canadians to help with donations to give kids in developing countries medical care they wouldn't otherwise receive. 

"The average cost is $480/child," says Beth Jost-Reimer, the Chief Strategy Officer with Hope and Healing International. "A Group Hug is a way to transform a life together. The impact is huge."