Kumi (Congo)

4/20/2018: Happy 24th Birthday Kumi! Please pray for her, today it is her birthday but she is in the hospital after another medical concern with this same AVM brain issue. The surgery, if given, is extremely risky. Kumi, however, is currently unable to live life well without the surgery. Over be past several months she has been able to somewhat manage her condition with medication. A few days ago, she was rushed to the ER and is there still today, 5 days later. Kumi needs our prayers.

Update on Kumi 5/25/2017:  Kumi is in a pretty tricky situation.  After meeting with Semmes Murphey Clinic Neurologists and Neurosurgeons, we feel the best thing for Kumi to do is monitor her situation closely.  The day we have no other choice but to do surgery may come but when it does Kumi’s life as she knows it most probably will forever change. The best decision for now, as encouraged by the great team of doctors, is for Kumi to try to live her life as she normally would.  Kumi is taking medication that helps her to not have seizures.  The chance of Kumi needing surgery in the future is very high which will be costly as well.  We are praying for a miracle for her! If this particular case interests you and you want to help this family and undersrand better contact me:  jamie@ashasrefuge.org.  Yes, this family still needs a lot of assistance but they are being very responsible and doing all that they can to help one another.

We are thankful to Semmes Murphey Clinic, Methodist Teaching School, Church Health Center and all our friends who are encouragers. Pictured here is our Asha’s Refuge Next Generation leader, Madison, who went to the big days neurologist appointments with us. She was a great help to try and keep Kumi’s anxiety about her situation in check.

Update on Kumi: She will need a serious surgery to help resolve the problem. She needs it sooner than later. The time waiting for her parents, family and friends is scary. They are trusting God. A team of doctors from the Semme’s Murphey Clinic and Methodist Teaching School are taking a special interest in her situation and are so far willing to take her case. Her new doctor at Church Health Center was reassuring but very concerned. Please continue to pray for Kumi, she is anxious and ready to get the brain surgery over with and hopefully get back to her new regular routine with her job at Hilton and time with her friends and family. Finances are a real struggle for this family but they are taking things one day at a time. (Kumi on left, mom on right… at doctors office keeping our Spirits up).


It is hard for me to write Kumi’s story. My eyes are watering and my heart aches for her and her family even as I type.  Kumi is 23.  She’s my daughter’s age.  Her family has been in America for about one and a half years.  They first arrived into Arizona, but when their family learned that their dear friends and neighbors from their same Gihembe refugee camp were in Memphis, TN, that they had obtained good jobs and were happy, Kumi’s family chose to move to Memphis.  I have written previous blogs about her father, Desire.
Kumi is the oldest child in her family.  She has always stayed at home with her mother to help clean, cook and take care of her siblings.  She did not ever get a chance to go to school.  Kumi is shy.   Don’t let her shyness fool you, however!  Kumi has a quite fun and humorous personality.   Her giggles and smile will light up a room.  She and her sisters like to dress up.  Kumi was eager to help her family financially.  She immediately got a job cleaning rooms at Hilton Hotel.  She is thankful for and likes her job.  Kumi practices English weekly, in her home, with her Asha’s Refuge friend and tutor, Anna.  Kumi is a quick learner and is beginning to speak a few English sentences.  She laughs at herself when she tries to speak English.  Her voice sounds like her mothers.

Recently, Kumi started having severe headaches.  She would occasionally pass out and scare her family.  She visited the hospitals a couple of times and they sent her home with no answer as to why she was having the headaches and passing out.  Her parents, siblings, community of friends and even Asha’s Refuge thought that Kumi needed to work harder to drink more water and be sure she ate a good meal before she went to work all day.  Asha’s Refuge encouraged Kumi to go to the hospital if she or her parents were at all still concerned and did not seem to feel better within a few days.  Kumi agreed that she should be sure to drink more water and perhaps eat a better meal before her shift at work.  Kumi’s headaches continued and worsened. Kumi passed out again.  Her parents rushed her to the hospital.

Her parents were very concerned about not having health insurance for Kumi since she was an adult child not in school.   Kumi does not have health insurance with her job yet since she has not completed her 90 days.  She has only completed about 60 days.  Asha’s Refuge reassured Kumi’s parents that the hospital would work to help them manage the fees if they would communicate on the front end that they did not have insurance.  Asha’s Refuge and her parents understand that there may be a hospital bill that will be too expensive for them to pay.  In an emergency situation, families must do what they need to do get the medical help they need for their loved one.

Many tests were ran on Kumi in the hospital over the weekend.  Several doctors and nurses worked with Kumi.  The doctors found a malformation in Kumi’s brain.  Please understand that I am trying hard to be very careful and respectful with my wording here as not to publicly overshare detailed medical information that needs to remain private for her family.  Desire and his family appreciate the communities prayers and support and want you to know at least some of what Kumi and their family is dealing with so that you will know how to pray and possibly help them.  Just know that  Kumi is in a serious situation that will require several followup visits with a neurologist, a neurosurgeon and family doctor.  She will have to have an operation to hopefully correct and/or manage the problem she is having to prevent further damage, headaches and seizures.  For now, Kumi will not be able to go back to work.

Over the weekend and throughout the evenings, Ashas’ Refuge was happy to help Kumi and her family at the hospital.  The picture is of Kumi with a little gift we gave her as we prayed and encouraged her and her family.  It is important for refugee families to have an experienced American friend with them at the hospital.  It is great that the hospitals have the blue phones that help to translate conversations between nurses and doctors to the patients and their families.  We did get a translator that spoke her language.  The problem, however, is that there are many times that both the translator on the phone and the refugee client have little education or American life skills.  While the translator is available to translate, they are unable to assist the patient full circle.  For example, a nurse may tell a translator to translate to the patient that they are going to put them on an IV.  The translator will say, “The nurse says she will need to put your loved one on an IV.”  The non-english speaking patient will say, “Okay.”  The phone call will end.  The nurse will proceed to put the IV into the patients arm.  The refugee patient is totally confused as to what is happening to them and may not have expected the needle and pain.  The refugee patient probably is extremely terrified.  The patient did not even know to ask questions when she was told they would be put on an IV.  The patients questions should have been something like, “What is an IV“, “Why do I need this“, “Will this procedure hurt“, “Can I move my arm once the needle is in“, “What is that clear stuff going into my body?”

I’ll give you another example of this medical translation gap and why Asha’s Refuge is so important!  In Kumi’s case, she needed to get a CT Scan.  Kumi did not understand what the CT Scan was.  Asha’s Refuge had not yet made it to the hospital to help Kumi and her family.  The hospital worked to put Kumi into the tube for the scanning procedure.  Kumi panicked.  (We realize many people panic but do not feel that Kumi would have if she would have understood better what was happening to her.)  Kumi was strapped down so that she would stay still for the test.  This extremely scary to her.  It was scary to her parents too.  She and her family are in a new country and entirely different culture.  She did not understand what the medical staff was saying all around her.  She had little experience being in a hospital Emergency Room with all the various medical equipment.  Kumi continued to panic.  The medical staff felt that it was safest to sedate Kumi and had to put a tube in her throat to do so.  Could this all have been prevented if the procedure would have been better explained to Kumi? (The hospital staff was truly wonderful to Kumi’s family.  This is just a gap in the medical and refugee system that is hard for most to understand that it even happens.)

Asha’s Refuge will need some strong volunteers to assist this family with transportation to and from the doctor visits.  This will include staying at the doctors visits to help them understand what the neurologists and surgeons are suggesting.  A volunteer nurse would be an ideal advocate for this family but is not required.  Remember, Desire (her father), is still recovering from a recent car accident where he fractured his ribs.  Kumi’s mother is also still recovering from the car accident.  No, Kumi was not in the car accident, her condition is something that has possibly existed at birth and is just now causing her problems.

Asha’s Refuge is thankful that Kumi is here in the States where she should be able to have the medical assistance that she needs.  If her family had still been in the refugee camp, it is quite possible that Kumi would not have the medical attention she needs.  Your prayers are requested.  We are believing in a miracle for Kumi!



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