Walkathon will raise funds for African hospital, stricken teen

Far from home and searching for a better life during a time of war, Dr. Sam Kormoi and his wife Mary packed up their life and picked Homewood as their new place of residence in 1999.
  Fatima Swaray
Originally from the West African nation of Sierra Leone, violence and turmoil forced the couple to uproot from their native land. The country was wracked by civil war between 1991 and 2002. 
Kormoi and his wife, a registered nurse, are thousands of miles from their homeland but that has not diminished their love and connection to Sierra Leone. If anything, their journey to the United States has strengthened the pride they have for their country and for the people back home. 
In 2006, the Kormois returned to Sierra Leone with food, materials, school supplies, clothing and other necessary items. For more than a decade they have operated a charity, the Pan-African Rural Health & Social Services (PRHeSS Ministry), and the 501(c)(3) organization has been positively changing lives in Sierra Leone.
On Saturday, July 14, PRHeSS will host its 10th annual walkathon. The five-mile walk through Homewood will raise money for the community hospital in rural Sierra Leone that the organization founded.
Proceeds will also go toward treatment of Fatima Swaray, a 17-year-old high school senior who is suffering from bone cancer. The Kormois are working to save Fatima’s life and hope to bring her to the United States as soon as possible to receive the treatment, care and rehabilitation that she needs to survive.
The walkathon starts at 9 a.m. St. Andrews United Methodist Church. 18850 Riegel Road in Homewood.  Further information on the walk, and how to donate to PRHeSS, is available at www.africanhopeanddignity.org.
Kormoi said Fatima was first treated for a swollen right ankle at the organization’s hospital.
“It had a big lump,” he said. She was treated and then referred to an orthopedic surgeon in a bigger city, where a biopsy was performed. When the results came back, almost two months later, the doctor said Fatima would need an amputation and that would be the only remedy.
“In Sierra Leone there is no other remedy,” Kormoi said. “They do not have advanced technology such as MRIs or CAT Scans nor do they have chemotherapy.  So that basically means if a child is plagued with a disease that requires those things the child will die.
“So once I found that out, I told them to let me see what I can do and that is when he (the doctor) sent over all of the child's information and I began looking for hospitals in Chicago to see what they could do for her.” 
The Kormois and their foundation continue to fight for Fatima and many other children like her who contract life-threatening injuries or diseases with no resources to cure them. The Kormois are now working with 10 villages in rural Sierra Leone --  Moyowa, Semabu, Salina, Lablama, Kaniya, Motami, Makka, Yanihun, Mokaiwa and Kebawana.
Aside from giving back to their country by donating goods, the organization also helps towns agriculturally. Villages working with PRHeSS have joined together in community farming efforts to grow crops and sow land.
Kormoi mainly works out of St. Elizabeth Hospital in Chicago, part of the Presence Health network.
Persons wishing to make donations to the organization can also mail them to PRHeSS Ministry, P.O. Box 1071 Homewood, IL 60430.

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