SAN LUIS OBISPO, California – The defining characteristic of CURE International as described by avid volunteer Lisa Grau is “loving through actions instead of words.” With 1 in 10 children in the world suffering from some form of disability, CURE takes this simple approach to healing the millions of physically disabled children in third world countries.
Founded in 1996 by Dr. Scott Harrison and Mrs. Sally Harrison, CURE is a Christian non-profit organization that focuses on treating the 100 million children in developing nations with curable deformities. Though also dedicated to spiritual healing through the spreading of the gospel, they believe that all people regardless of religion, country or economic class deserve a healthy life.
It is with this core belief that CURE has spread to 29 different countries and operates ten CURE hospitals. Since 1998 they have treated over 2.1 million patients, performed 150,000 surgeries and have trained 6,600 medical professionals. Located in countries like Zambia, Uganda, and Egypt, CURE has built hospitals from the ground up or acquired them in collaboration with the host country in order to bring health services to isolated communities.
CURE San Luis Obispo (SLO) is a student chapter of CURE International’s recent movement called CURE U that reaches out to universities around the United States to spread the word and raise funds. Lisa is a fourth year Bio-Medical Engineering student at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Lisa acts as the Awareness and Outreach Director of CURE SLO, whose goal this year is to raise around $30,000 to fund 30 children’s surgeries. CURE SLO as well as all 21 universities who are a part of CURE U, work to connect the communities they live in with communities in the developing world who need their help.
This grassroots activism does not stop there. Lisa and others from CURE SLO go on a 3-week trip every summer to different hospitals and communities that CURE works in. This last summer they went to Zambia and split time doing different service projects, as well as networking and providing ministry for each community.
Disabled children often struggle with the stigma which comes with their disability. In certain cultures having a disability can be seen as a sign of witchcraft or be so undesired that nobody accepts that person into society. Lisa spoke of how a simple act of kindness like playing with a child who has a disability can show a community that there is nothing inherently wrong with being disabled and open them up to seek medical help. Through community service and creating relationships, CURE is able to break this stigma down.
By integrating each community into their operations CURE builds a base of trust wherever they work. No matter how much money can be raised to fund children’s surgeries, if the locals do not have enough trust to seek CURE’s help, all is for naught.
Lisa spoke of a child she befriended who had a deformity in one of his legs. She promised to be there for him, watching his operation from the viewing room. In all previous surgeries this boy had been resistant, but to the doctor’s astonishment, the child remained calm throughout the whole operation with Lisa there.
With so much stacked against those in poverty, CURE is dedicated to making sure that every child does not also have to struggle with a curable disability. It is through Lisa’s actions and all those involved in CURE International that similar stories of love and healing will continue to occur across the globe.
– Jacob Ruiz
Sources: The World Bank, CURE International, WHO