Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Two Little Pumpkins

Do you remember these two darling baby girls that I wrote about back in April? Their mother had been coming to the clinic for her prenatal check-ups and on her last visit, I told her that I thought that she may be carrying twins. Sure enough, she was, and little Docassa and Luta (Dorcas & Ruth) were born two months premature. They had a rough start and at one point, I prayed over little Luta because she was fighting so hard to live and it seemed that she was failing. However, God answered prayer, and she began to put on weight just like her sister.

Well just the other day, I stopped to take the healthy little girls' picture...they are 7 months old now and as active as any little babies of that age should be. Both of the girls were nursed only, until their 6th month, and then they began to give them the cereal mix, Misola, which we show the moms how to prepare. Misola is a combination of grains, beans and nuts which ensure that the babies receive a full complement of vitamins and minerals. We show the moms how to make the cereal with the ingredients locally available. Babies on this diet of breast milk and Misola will avoid malnutrition, which is so prevalent in our area.
The mother, on the left, is so thankful to God for her healthy little Dorcas and Ruth! Me too!

Traditional Medicine

Ever since we moved to Makalondi and I became involved in medical ministry, I've been fascinated by the variety of medicinal plants. For most of the nationals, these roots, barks, or leaves are the first treatment they will use when they become sick. Although this treatment is not as strong as the medication they would receive at a local clinic, it is many times very effective and it is surely a good deal cheaper. And where the average income is very meager, the traditional medicine all around them is a good option. As I drive out to the clinic every week, I pass many trees with tell-tale signs of frequent use. Some barks are used to treat worms...

...the leaves of the tree behind me and my girlfriend in front of our home, are used to treat stomach aches and cramps.

Often the bark or the leaves will be used to make a "tea" or a poultice, very much the same way our ancestors used the plants and herbs to treat their illnesses. And usually there is one or two persons in each village who are the medicinal experts. (This can sometimes be the "witch doctor", but is not always the case). But I've found that most of the people have a general knowledge of their trees and plants and the ways to use them.

What is also interesting, is the way the trees respond to the frequent cutting. They become gnarly and lumpy, healing over the cut places. If I had more time, I'd really love to do more research on the specific plants and their uses. Nevertheless, when someone comes to our clinic for treatment, chances are that they have already tried something traditional. Often the traditional medicine will work, but for the times when it isn't effective or not the proper treatment, we are there to help them with a pharmaceutical option. After all, many of our drugs come from flora and fauna.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fall in the Air

Driving out through the bush to the clinic and driving to and from the city, it's been great this year to watch the leaves changing. It helps to make it feel like Fall really is here, even if our daily temps are still high. Maybe the beautiful colors this year are due to the nippy 65 degree temps we're having at night?! Or the Dry Dry weather? Whatever the reason, the landscape is putting on a beautiful display, with all the colors sparkling in the clear sunlight.

This year Thanksgiving really "felt" like Thanksgiving, driving by the beautiful colors and then celebrating it with our "family" here in Niamey. Add in the Harmattan dust, and one can actually smell Christmas in the air! I need to get the Christmas tree out, hose off the dust, and put it up!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Just Love These Kids!

As the new school year began, the Lord allowed me to take up one of my favorite ministries again: that of having a Kid's Club. In this club we learn of God's love for us and others and how we can live by following the truths from His Word. Last year due to my work load, it just wasn't possible for me to have their club, and I heard from our Center teacher that the kids would come on Saturday mornings and wait for me! Talk about making me feel terrible!
This year, I have been able to narrow my ministry focus with Beki helping us, so that I could have time for the kids again. This time I wanted to not only teach them Spiritual truths, but to also be able to help them academically. (Most children in 4th and 5th grade still do not know how to read or do basic math problems.) Because our mission has just produced an excellent Biblically based Reading and Math program for the beginner levels, I wanted to try that program with the kids. At the same time I also wanted to train someone else in teaching children using this method. And God gave me the young man (Yemin) to help...he's one whom we have helped with some schooling and teaching courses in the past, and he was eager to have an opportunity to get some experience. Then I called on my dear friend who IS a teacher to help us get the ball rolling. She came out to Makalondi and did a week with us, planning out our 3 time/week meetings, modeling the teaching method for us, and giving extra instruction to Yemin.
We've just finished our 4th week and even though it's been A LOT of work (I have much more sympathy for all the prep work of first grade teachers now!), we are thoroughly enjoying Club time....the kids And the teachers! We only accepted 10 students on the condition that they would be faithful and that their parents would support us in making sure they came. The rewards are already evident as I see the children learning Bible stories so well that they can tell them to their classmates, putting the lessons from those stories into practice in their behavior and seeing the individual gifts of each child academically coming out with more confidence. The kids just can't wait for class, and when school was out for a holiday this past week, they asked me to hold class for them that afternoon, which we did.
I think that it's evident in the video below, that the children are enjoying themselves. They had studied the story of Ishmael and the lessons we learned were that God always hears them and that we don't make fun of others. We applied that to our families in particular.
Here is what they are reciting (focusing on the sound of "i" in French - which is the "long e" sound for us in English):
Isaac grew. Ishmael laughed, hee hee hee. Sarah said, "That's enough! Leave from here!" But God heard his cries.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Story from the Clinic

I'll jump right in. Often at the clinic we have to tell someone that their medical problem is more than we can handle. We don't have the ability out in the bush to do an x-ray or lab work or most other medical tests. We will have to refer them to a medical post in Niamey. Because of the distance, many of them never end up going in. Being nomadic with their herds and often not having family in the city can be a big deterant. But some of them do go...and we are often eager to hear back from them on the results.
Recently we had a sweet young Fulani woman, Fati, come for a consultation and she laid out her problem. She hadn't had a normal cycle in over two years and being married she really wanted a baby. Could we give her some medication and help her? After taking her history, I explained our dilema...we would love to help her, but don't have the resources on site. I referred her to my friend, "Suzy B" in the city who is a Dr. and has a clinic.
Fati traveled to Niamey with her parents, and my friend, "Em" met them at the taxi bus station to take them to their relative's home. It turned out to be just 4 doors down from the wedding that Em was attending, and had left, to go pick them up! She also picked them up the next morning and drove them across the city to the consultation. (God really lovingly provided for this family!!)
The next weekend I talked to Suzy B and she had been told a different history (not uncommon) and had felt an abdominal mass so she ordered some tests and an ultrasound to be done at a local hospital. She told me that they hadn't returned with the results and wondered if they had returned home. That wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility since the fields were ready for harvest and they can't be away for long.
Well, two days later, Dr. B called me and said that they were in her office with the results. I braced myself... she told me she knew the problem. Fati is 3 months pregnant! I started laughing. I was so tickled to hear GOOD NEWS...and we were both relieved that the "mass" turned out to be a BABY!! Praise God!
Last Thursday, Fati showed up at our clinic again with her test results. We had a good chat, she was shyly smiling, and we scheduled her for her first prenatal visit next Friday.
I just love it when a Good Surprise comes our way. I just love it when a patient experiences the Love of Jesus through our network of believers. Thanks for that, my sisters! (Pictures to come... smile)