Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Visit to our Mission Hospital

Twice a year we have an orientation for our new arrivals.  The fall orientation we do in the capital city and the spring orientation we do in one of the towns more in the central part of the country.  This year we did it in the town where our mission hospital is located.

The hospital started in the 1950's and the original buildings are in really bad shape.  A picture in the hospital director's office shows the hospital as it was in the early '50's....three buildings surrounded by rock with not a tree in sight.  The original buildings were built from the rock dug out of the ground.  Today those buildings are structurally unsound.  So, one by one they are being torn down and new ones are being built.  Here you see a progression of the building of the old original buildings, another building being torn down to make room for new buildings, and the inside of one of the new buildings.
I do NOT enjoy visiting hospitals.  Period.   And especially not here where the situations are almost always extreme and the smells are unpleasant to say the least.  (Don't ask me why I like House.  I have no idea!) The day we visited we went in the afternoon, so things were fairly quiet.  Most of the sick people come first thing in the morning.  This room was a group of moms in the well-baby clinic waiting for injections for their babies.  Right now the babies all look happy, but wait 'til the first one starts screaming.  (My kids got more than one shot in this very room!  It was a yearly event during our spiritual life conference.)

We also saw people in an infectious disease ward (things like measles, typhoid, meningitis).  This picture shows the "normal" sick ward.  This particular day there were only a few people down at the end of the ward.  But they said during malaria season every bed was full, some with more than one patient.  Patients were on the floor, some were in make-shift quarters outside, and some were in the hall.  You also need to know that each patient has a family member with them to take care of their sick loved one.  If the person caring for them is a woman, she probably has a baby on her back as well.  So you can just imagine what this room was like during malaria season!

We also saw the maternity ward.  The sad thing about being in a ward like this is that the moms who have lost babies are in the same ward as the moms who have healthy babies.  It must be awful to lie in your bed recovering from a Cesarean where your baby was delivered dead when the woman next to you is nursing her baby. 

From there we went towards the operating block.  Just as we were standing there, a nurse came out holding a baby that had just been delivered by Cesarean.  She held him up and was telling us to take a picture.  We were getting ready to (I think my friend did) when she said, "Unfortunately he died."  We were more than just a little shocked!

Another place we visited was the pharmacy.  Most of their medicines are purchased at cost or donated since the hospital is a non-profit.  They make many of their own IV solutions as well.

We also got to see the physical therapy gym where people with burns, broken bones, and recovering from surgery go for therapy.  Many of the patients are children who have had club foot.  Aren't these little walkers cute?

I'll tell you what, my hat really goes off to everybody who works at this hospital. The doctors and other personnel who work there see extreme cases every day and deal with frequent deaths.  It's especially depressing when the death could have been prevented. It's in a rural area and people don't have good means of transportation to get there so by the time they arrive, they are really sick or have been in labor for days.  Others try traditional treatments and then come to the hospital as a last resort.  Others just don't come because the thought is perpetuated that the hospital is where you go to die.  So if they go, it's as if they've admitted they're going to die.  Of course, by the time they get there, that's what often happens and the belief continues on.  

The hospital has a really good reputation in the country for the quality care we provide.  Best of all, it is done with love and in the name of Jesus. As patients wait, they watch the Jesus video or listen to preaching. 

For sure, I admire all those who work there!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Helping the Helpless

It is not unusual to have beggars, even small children, come to me and ask for money or for food.  It is part of the religion here to give alms, so begging is very much a part of every day life.  There are some beggars that I recognize so I often give them a coin. If it is children who are begging and if I'm near a shop, I will buy them  a Solani (a yogurt drink) because I know it's nutritious for them.  A lot of the time I just joke with them and go on.  And often I just ignore them....sad, but true.

A conundrum for many missionaries here is what to do with the little boys called taalibey who beg for the m*sque.  If you give to them, they are expected to take what they receive back to their teacher who often keeps what he wants.  Some of the boys are treated quite harshly.  On the other hand, if we don't give to them we are ignoring a large section of the population who are really in need.  These boys are often orphans or children who live in a situation whose families cannot afford to feed them.  So they'll send them to the teacher who teaches them from the holy book, sends them out to beg, and provides a place for them to sleep, but who can't afford medical care for them unless they are really sick.  

So I didn't pay much attention to this little guy when he came up to me to beg.  I told him no, but then he said, "Look at my leg."  He pulled up his pant leg and he had a very nasty gash on his leg.  He said he had been running and fell.  It was not very clean and was a bit pussy.  So I took him home and cleaned his leg and put a band-aid on it.  He comes every day and gets it cleaned.  It's pretty painful for him, but he's brave and gets through it ok.  Today it was finally starting to look a bit better.

For privacy reasons I didn't show his face, but he's got a fabulous smile!

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Under, A Sign, and a Number

Day 29 -- Under.  Every now and then when I'm lying on the floor doing my exercises, I see what Suzanne once wrote under the chair.  I probably wasn't very happy about my child writing on furniture when it happened, though I don't remember making a big deal out of it since nobody could see it and I discovered it after the fact.  But now I like seeing reminders of my kids when they were little.  It says:  
This is 
Zazzy (cat)
Suzanne (girl)
Midnight (other cat)
Daniel (boy)
Nancy (mom)
John (dad)
Noel (doll)
Inky (stuffed dog)

Great memories.

Day 30 -- Sign

It's amazing how much confusion a new traffic pattern can cause!  This is the intersection just down the road from us and if you turn right, there is a large private school as well as several popular restaurants and a grocery store down there.  There is no place to park outside the school so parents to have to drop their kids off in the street.  With cars coming both directions to pick up and drop off kids, it ended up being a huge mess four times a day (kids go home at noon for siesta).  So they made the road one way. 

 You should have seen the confusion on Tuesday morning! The police parked their motorcycle to block the road so people couldn't turn down there.  But drivers didn't notice until the last minute, so then they were turning around in the street, dropping their kids off in the intersection, etc.  It was a bigger mess than ever before.  Now people are getting the the past three days the police moved their motorcycle and stand off to the side and catch people coming the wrong way down the one way street.  Yep.  Several have found out that doing that earns you a 4,000 cfa ($8.00) ticket and a free trip across town to the police station to retrieve your license.

Day 31 -- A number
The number is 1,000.  As I've mentioned several times, I have been reading 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  I'm making my own gratitude list and am up to 84.

Friday, February 01, 2013


Day 28th's post was Beautiful.  I didn't really take a picture on Day 28.  But I did take pictures during our spiritual life conference.  The last day was beautiful as we worshiped God outside in the shade of giant trees.  I loved so many of the songs we sang, but I think 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman is one of the most beautiful of the beautiful songs we sang.  Here we go, starting with the chorus:

Verse 1

Verse 2


Verse 3