Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Bush Clinic Day

Every Thursday around 8:30, I take off for a little village called Hanlonli, to work at the clinic there. I stock my medical bag, grab some munchies, a roll of t.p., plenty of water bottles and Gary's GPS (which our boys gave him several Christmases ago...a brilliant tool for our ministry!). I load the car, lock the front wheels in 4 wheel drive mode, and get in the truck. Before leaving, Gary and I make sure that we both have our cell phones charged and near us so that we can stay in contact as needed.
Recently I began training Mia, a 20 yr. old girl, to become a "rural nurse". I've had Mia in my youth group for years, and she's keen to work in health...isn't interested in marrying any time soon. So I pick her up at her house, and we head out on our 14 km. trek through the sahel to our village. This time I'm also carrying a door and two windows for the new clinic that is nearing completion there.

As you can see from the picture above, often with the changing landscape and tire marks it's sometime difficult to know which "path" to take. That is where the GPS keeps me from becoming lost! It's amazing how much more secure I feel as I drive out there, knowing I have that little satellite map with me! It also helps to have my student with me...just her presence and conversation help. I can drive for several kilometers out there and not see another human being. I purposely avoid driving near any of the many thorn trees that dot our route, and navigate ruts and sand traps cautiously. I don't want to bust an oil pan or wind up in "sinking sand". 4 wheel drive is Brilliant!

45 minutes later we drive up to Pastor Nori's compound. The new clinic is being built on the land adjoining his family compound, but for now, we're holding clinic in the little building he built himself and it's in his compound. Pastor's compound is a grand example of heath teaching being lived out in daily life. Here you see that he and his wife have put what we teach into practice for the whole community to see. The compound is clean and orderly, safe and yet homey.
He already has 2 patients waiting...2 young boys.

Pastor Nori didn't just wait for me to return from the U.S. to help him get that new clinic built. He went ahead and exercised iniative himself and built a perfectly adequate one to use in the meantime... with the waiting area just outside the door (the bench) in the shade.

Granted, it's a bit small and cramped inside the days that Mia and myself and our 3 women health workers all meet together, but most of the time it's adequate for Pastor and his patient.
Pastor Nori has been trained in some basic medical measures, but has longed for more training. So my role is to come out once a week and teach a lesson to he and Mia, and then to see patients with them. As we hold clinic, they are expected to put into practice what they are learning. Here's an example. Last week's lesson was on the heart and it's role in our health. They learned what problems occur when the heart is unhealthy and one common "exam" they can use to help them: taking Blood pressures. So they practiced on each other first, and then we took every patients' blood pressure throughout the day.
I also meet with the three women from that area with whom I did training in preventative health care last term. They have been seriously putting that training into practice and it's changing their communities for the better. They come on Thursday and we review 2 old lessons, with Pastor and Mia there as well. They benefit from the lesson and learn how their health women are helping them. Soon I will be training these women to perform Prenatal checks on the expecting moms in their community, and then we'll progress to deliveries.
In the middle of one of our lessons, a young mother arrives with her dehydrated baby....it's been vomiting and had diarrhea for the past 12 hours, a combination which kills more babies in Africa than even malaria. Immediately we check the baby's temperature...with the symptoms presenting, she most likely has malaria. While Pastor gets the malaria treatment meds, I ask the women to tell the mother what she needs to do for her baby. Immediately they begin to explain to her, how to make rehydration drink, offering to help her make it the first time, and then how often to give it. They explain other helpful things to the mother, and I can't help but get excited to see "my girls" taking on a role of extreme importance for their communities, but also for the Kingdom of God. Their compassion and care reveals the love of Jesus Christ to those among whom they live!
By 4 p.m., we're wrapping it up. It's been a long day...and some time in there we ate some rice and sauce fixed by Pastor's wife...and drank a lot of water. Now we drive home over the bumpy trail tired but very encouraged. Having the gift of helps is such a blessing and I thank the Lord for His giving me the opportunity to excercise it here!


Leah's Puppies!

Last week, Tuesday night, while we were still in Niamey, Leah had her puppies... All 7 of them! This was her first litter in her life...at the good ole age of 11! We were concerned that she may struggle to give birth for the first time in her "old" age, but she seemed to get through it very well. She was tired, but who wouldn't be after giving birth to 7 babies??

The parentage of these pups is suspect, and they are definately mostly "bush dog" with a mix of German Shepherd and Chow in them. They sure are cute right now! But what are we going to do with all these puppies???!!! Anybody need a hearty, intelligent doggie? We've got the pup for you!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Home Depot African Style

Often, as many of you do, we have repairs to do on our home (like our kitchen wall). You probably run out to you local Home Depot or other hardware store to get the supplies and/or tools that you need. We like to think that we’re doing much the same thing Except that there isn’t a “Home Depot” in Makalondi… The nearest “one” is in Niamey. So when we come in to town for mission ministry, Gary often has a list with him of needed items from the “hardware store”.

Whereas I love going with Gary to Home Depot back in the States, I’m not so keen to tag along out here. Home Depot here is called “Bukoki Market” and it has a whole different look and feel! It covers acres and acres and includes everything from hardware to food to bus stations. Many men would find this place fascinating!


The other day, I rode along with my husband. We thread our way through the narrow dirt roads, squeezing between huge transport trucks and donkey carts, and… “Look out for the guy on the bike!” carrying a load of at least 30 clay pots! On arriving our favorite “dealer”, Gary gets met by several of the dealer’s men, who greet and whisk him past the rebar and roofing tins to go do business in the office. They will visit, drink a coke and then Gary will give his list to Mr. Dealer. They discuss quality, amounts and prices. This “shopping” can take anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes and all the while, I’m sitting in our truck with the sun beating on it.

All manner of traffic pass by -- human, motor and animal. Some greet me, but most of them ignore me. The flies join me in the cab. A crazy man stops and starts yelling at me, so I pray while I roll up the window. It gets hotter and now the sweat is running freely. A man selling medicines, including antibiotics, passes by and a phone card vendor tries to get me to buy a card.

Throughout all this, I’m watching the bus depot across the street. One loaded vehicle is packed with people and baggage, preparing to leave. But first the chauffeur decides to do some repair work on his engine. 15 minutes later, he shuts the hood, climbs in and turns the key. Nothing. So he yells back to some of the men passengers to jump off and push. The do and that does the trick. They have a jerky start, but they’re off!

Gary comes back. All “his” men come, shake my hand and tell me to greet my family for them. The supplies will be ready that afternoon. Gary will go back to collect them, but I’m thinking that I’ll stay back at the office and work on emails this time!