Julie Vehrenkamp BerryhillUNIVERSAL FUND MEMBER
Julie's Story

Julie joined Watsi on March 12th, 2013. Nine years ago, Julie joined our Universal Fund, supporting life-changing treatments for a new Watsi patient every month. Julie's most recent donation traveled 9,000 miles to support Edina, a hardworking mother of seven from Malawi, to fund thyroid surgery.

Impact

Julie has funded healthcare for 118 patients in 13 countries.

Patients funded by Julie

Edina, a 41-year-old mother of seven, works as a vegetable seller, earning about $2.97 per day for her family's upkeep. She finds joy interacting with her customers and has a fondness for chicken and nsima, a Malawian staple porridge made from maize flour. Four years ago, Edina discovered a small, painless swelling on the right side of her neck. After seeking medical advice at a nearby hospital, she was diagnosed with goiter, an enlargement of the thyroid gland. She was instructed to wait for an opportunity for surgery, but her condition has worsened, causing breathlessness, neck pain, and difficulty lifting heavy objects. This has affected her work capacity and resulted in a decrease in income. Inspired by a fellow community member's journey to seek help, Edina visited our medical partner's care facility, Partners in Hope Medical Centre, where a surgeon reconfirmed the need for a thyroidectomy, the surgical removal of all or part of your thyroid gland. Faced with financial hardships, Edina is seeking support for her surgery treatment. Fortunately, our medical partner, African Mission Healthcare, is helping Edina receive treatment. On March 20th, surgeons at PIH will perform a thyroidectomy to relieve her symptoms and help her resume her vegetable business at full capacity. Now, Edina needs help to fund this $1,015 procedure. Edina says, “I feel so fortunate to get the opportunity for support. Thank you so much, I believe surgery will help me get back to normal life."

$376raised
$639to go

Catherine is a 38-year-old woman from Malawi. She was born into a family of six children, but tragically, both her parents passed away. Catherine presently works as a sales representative and lives alone, but has two dependents: one in secondary school and the other in primary school. Four years ago, Catherine began to experience troubling symptoms, including a swelling and pain in the neck. More recently, the pain has worsened, affecting both her shoulders which is greatly impacting her well-being. She sought medical attention at a local hospital where different tests were done. She was diagnosed with a goiter and was scheduled for surgery. In the waiting period, Catherine was advised by a friend to seek medical treatment at our partner care center, Partners in Hope Medical Center (PIH). On April 22nd, she was reviewed at PIH and the goiter diagnosis was confirmed. The surgeon recommended a thyroidectomy, a surgical procedure involving the removal of part or all of the thyroid gland. However, Catherine is unable to afford the surgical treatment costs. Fortunately, our medical partner African Mission Healthcare, is helping Catherine receive treatment. She is scheduled to undergo a thyroidectomy on May 7th to relieve the pain and swelling, and prevent her symptoms from getting worse. Now, Catherine needs help to fund this $1,015 procedure. Catherine says: "Facing the hurdles of life alone has not dimmed my determination. Despite the challenges, I am hopeful that I will overcome this obstacle and I am committed to providing for my dependents. With the upcoming surgery, I see a path back to normalcy, where I can excel in my role as a sales representative and confidently pursue my goals once more."

$405raised
$610to go

Vanila is a 17-year-old girl. She comes from a sizable family that includes five siblings, with her being the second-to-last born. She is a student and recently completed her secondary education with the hope of going further in her education. Her parents work as farmers, relying on their harvest for sustenance. Additionally, her father engages in casual day-to-day jobs to supplement their income. Three of Vanila’s siblings are independent and working, and they occasionally assist their parents in covering household expenses. Vanila’s journey began when, as a baby, her parents noticed both of her legs twisting inward and downward. Unfortunately, financial constraints prevented them from addressing her medical needs. In September 2023, Vanilla’s family learned about Kafika house, and the services offered. They visited, and she was diagnosed with bilateral clubfoot, a condition that significantly limited her mobility. With both legs affected, she commenced treatment for her left foot first, starting with manipulation and casting. In October 2023, she underwent surgery, and her treatment progressed well, showing positive results. Currently, Vanila is on the verge of beginning treatment for her right foot. She will undergo a similar process to correct the defect in her right foot. The team will begin clubfoot treatment for Vanila on December 29th. Our medical partner, African Mission Healthcare, is requesting $935 to fund Vanila's clubfoot repair. After treatment, her mobility will significantly improve. Vanilla says: “I’m looking forward to the day that I will be walking comfortably.”

$935raised
Fully funded

Ko Tin is a 34-year-old man from Burma. He lives with his parents and his younger brother in a village in Yangon Division, Burma. He used to be a driver before his condition got worse but now he has stopped. Currently, Ko Tin is living with his parents who are farmers and support him. The whole family’s income is just enough for their basic expenses and basic health care. Ko Tin has a wife who went to Thailand for work about four months ago but he has lost contact with her. When he has the energy and free time, Ko Tin likes playing football with friends. Ko Tin was diagnosed with a heart condition that requires replacement of the mitral valve, the valve between the left atrium and left ventricle. This valve controls the flow of blood, but certain conditions may cause blood to flow backward or the valve to narrow. In mid October, Ko Tin experienced fever, cough, body pain, difficult breathing, and severe fatigue when he walks a short distance. After he visited the cardiologist in Yangon Hospital, he was diagnosed with mitral valve regurgitation and doctor recommend that he should receive surgery. Currently, Ko Tin feels tired, coughs often, and is experiencing difficult breathing. Sometimes, he feels pain from his legs and his arms, and he cannot sleep well at night. He will feel extremely fatigued with shortness of breath when he lays down on the floor. He also cannot walk long distances. Our medical partner, Burma Children Medical Fund, is requesting $1,500 to fund a mitral valve replacement for Ko Tin. The treatment is scheduled to take place at Pun Hlaing Hospital on December 3rd and, once completed, will hopefully allow him to live more comfortably. Ko Tin said, “I would like to recover as soon as possible. My parents are worried about me, and they have difficulty earning enough money to pay for my treatment. I hope my wife to return, and I would like to live as a happy family.”

$1,500raised
Fully funded

Jasmin is a young mother of three from Philippines. Her partner, Crisanto Olivar, works as a food handler and earns $155 a month for their family. The couple has 3 children and Jasmin brings them to school every day. She shared that due to family problems, Jasmin was only able to finish her first year in high school which gave her a hard time finding employment, so to help with household expenses Jasmin sells drinks near their house and earns around $2 a day. In 2017, Jasmin began to experience troubling symptoms, including back pain, abdominal pain, and nausea. In 2018, she was diagnosed with gallstones and was advised to undergo a surgery immediately. Due to financial constraints, she suffered the pain for years until she heard about treatment offered at our partner care center. After seeking treatment through our medical partner, World Surgical Foundation Philippines (WSFP), Jasmin is scheduled to undergo a cholecystectomy on October 21st. A portion of the cost of the procedure is being supported by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and WSFP is raising the remaining $1128 to cover the cost of Jasmin's surgery and care. Jasmin says, "The surgery will be a big help for me and my family because there is no way we can afford the cost of the procedure, hospitalization and medicines for my treatment. I dream of having a long life and to see my children finish school and live a nice life. So I am very grateful to the people who will help me make my dream come true."

$1,128raised
Fully funded

Tha Zin is a 43-year-old woman from Thailand. She lives in a refugee camp in Tak Province with her husband and two sons. Tha Zin and her husband run a shop in the refugee camp. Their total monthly income is not enough to cover their basic expenses, and sometimes Tha Zin needs to borrow money with interest from her neighbor for her children’s school expenses. Tha Zin shared that in her free time she loves reading the Bible, praying, and knitting hats for her family. In 2022, Tha Zin started to experience pain when sitting. She also experienced bleeding in a sensitive area. In the refugee camp, they receive free basic health care from the International Rescue Committee (IRC). Tha Zin went to the hospital in the refugee camp, where they completed a physical examination, diagnosed her with severe hemorrhoids, and provided her with basic medication. While Tha Zin took the medication, she felt relieved, but after she finished her medication, the pain worsened, and she experienced increased swelling and inflammation. As time went on, the pain worsened. She felt it was harder to stand up, walk or sit. Currently, Tha Zin feels like she has less energy and has difficulty completing her everyday tasks. She also experiences difficulty sleeping due to her worries about her condition. Tha Zin sought treatment through our medical partner, Burma Children Medical Fund. She is now scheduled to undergo surgery on June 2nd at our partner's care center. Tha Zin needs your help to raise $1,500 to cover the cost of her procedure and care. Tha Zin said, “Because of my illness, I had to close my shop and leave my two children with my relatives. So, I worry about them. But I am thankful to those who will support my surgery because I cannot afford to pay for it by myself. When I recover, I will reopen my shop and pay back my debt that I borrowed for my children’s school expenses. If my family has the opportunity to do so, I want us to be resettled in a new country one day.”

$1,500raised
Fully funded