Thursday, January 31, 2013

Lina gets her Mask

Back when we were having another go at making the second mask, D. also wanted to inspect the rest of Lina's burned areas that were recovering with the pressure shirt.

After the inspection, she shyly and quietly said to us, "You remember you said that if I have any questions, I could just ask you?"

We nodded.

"Well, I see now that I will probably never get married and I know that I can no longer do the physical work that the women in the bush have to do.  
So I have been thinking... God saved my life and gave it back to me, and now I want to give my whole life to serve Him.  
So Palamanga, if you are agreed, can you give me to D.?  I will go with her and I will work for her and do anything she needs me to do so that she can continue to do her work to help burned people.  I am willing to help her in any way she needs me and all I need is a place to sleep and some food."

D. and I looked at each other with tears coming to our eyes...

Does this remind you of Ruth and Naomi too?

We told her that we would definitely begin to pray about this...that she still needs time to recuperate, so we have time to be praying.  I told her too, that it would be good to finish her schooling, especially since she was FIRST in her class last year, because she will need french and education to be a big help....  and she was glad to see HOPE in her future...
What a Precious girl she is!!

Ok, so if you've recovered your emotions...

...this is the Happy Ending to our Saga of  "Lina's Mask" and I think that D. has shared it very well in her blog post, so I will defer to her....and then add some personal thoughts...

So let's visit D's blog first (note - Lina is referred to as Y. in the blog): 

Her pictures are great so I'll only add a few here with a description.

One other thing... while we were in this process, I thought of David...and that he would love to be here to not only see his dad and sister, but to also see how this was all done.  I wasn't sure if he was in class at the moment (remember, he's a med student), but when I called, he was free and he came over and joined in the "fray".

 We had to spot heat several places and I got to use the heat gun!  D. did the hard part of pushing and pulling the plastic.... and probably getting her hands slightly burned by yours truly - hence the gloves!

Both Lina and her dad were both fascinated by the whole process...  and by the Cool Tools!  D. does some trimming with the drimmel here. 

Several times throughout the process of implementing the steps of the mask making, a certain step wouldn't work out as planned.  So then it was back to creative thinking and figuring out how to put our new idea in place.

Attaching the straps to the mask was one of those "detours", but with our brainstorming, we were able to come up with a new way.

It would just take a little more work....

And since it involved sewing, and Pastor is a Tailor as well, we recruited the whole family to help.  Thankfully, Lina and David had both been taught to sew by their father so they were a big help.

Even Lina was able to help.   And David seems to think this is fun!

Everybody was hard at work

When we finished, and D. had made the final adjustments, they were able to take the new mask home with them, where Lina and her dad will place it on her face and then attach the straps at the back of her head so that it will fit just right.  

They all thanked us over and over ...and before we took them to the bus station to head back to Makalondi, we all had to agree...

When you are in NEED of a Personalized FACE MASK...

                  The ONLY one to call is THE Queen of Masks herself...

                                                      ... D. Queen!!!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Lina's Story - Episode 2

When Lina came back last Wednesday, she and her dad had brought her littlest sister, Hamu (Goodness), so that she would have the chance to understand some of the care that her big sister receives.  She was to have her new mask fitted to her face, but we realized that the mold had not taken and couldn't be used.  So that meant that Lina had to go through having a cast made of her face again.  Though she had already done it once and knew what to expect, we don't think that that made it much easier to have to do through again.  But once more, she handled it well, and soon we had a new mold poured and drying.  

We scheduled the plastic "mask pulling" for Saturday, but typical of life's unpredictability, Deb wasn't able to get back to do it on Saturday.

We're rescheduled for Monday morning…Pastor and Yumanli will travel with us to the city where we will stop where Deb is staying and the mask will get made.  After it's formed and fitted to her face, she'll put her new mask on and she and her dad will catch a taxi bus and travel home.
The long healing process continues for Lina…

(Right: The plastic with Silicone lining that will form the new mask)

From Deb's perspective, please visit her blog:

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Pulling a Mask

Maybe you've heard the phrase, "pulling a mask" before.  I sure hadn't... before last week.  Since last August, I've been getting a crash course in Burn Recovery.  My friend and colleague, D., just returned from home assignment in our home country and before returning to her work at our hospital out east, she scheduled a check-up of my burn patient, Lina.  

Ever since the burning happened back in August, and D. found out about it, she immediately became my instructor and resource on hands-on burn care!  Over the months she has sent me information on how to provide a high protein diet, exercises to begin immediately, skin care, emotional care, evaluation of scarring, and then talked me through measuring Lina for pressure garments (which she wears around the clock now).  I was anxious for D's return and to have her make an evaluation of Lina's progress. 

Better than just an evaluation, D. came prepared to "pull a mask" or in other words, to make a proper face mask for Lina in order to minimize the scarring that happens after a burn. 

And a kind and generous friend of hers had donated the (expensive) materials to make the mask possible!  God is so good!

Just before D. arrived in Makalondi on Wednesday morning, Pastor and Lina arrived on his motorbike.  D. assembled her supplies. 
(for a GREAT explanation of what it entailed in order to acquire all the supplies, please read D's blog entry: 
Part I

We explained to Lina and her dad what would happen....and then we began to make the mask. What a brave young lady she was!  It was not an easy experience, but she handled it with courage.

D. was so gentle and reassuring with Lina that I'm sure it made the experience much more bearable!
For the rest of the story, I highly encourage you to read D's blog about the making of the mask…it explains the experience perfectly: 
Part II

A Workday Wednesday at the Clinic

Part I     Clinic Makeover

After a full Christmas season with all its activities around Makalondi, we were grateful to receive the assistance of some of our colleagues and their visiting friends from Canada.  The new clinic room has been built since before Gary and I went home for 6 mos. last February, but the room has yet to be "finished" so that its usefulness is maximized. 

Enter our longtime friends, E. and L., who are in ministries based in Niamey.  They and their teen-age son, Ray, have been willing to come help Gary and I do all the finishing work that was needed.  When their friends, P & J, came to visit for several weeks, they joined in the offer as well. 

So last Wednesday, they arrived in Makalondi early in the morning and after a quick "bathroom break", we loaded into our two vehicles and headed directly out into the bush to get to my clinic in Hanlonli. 
When we arrived, my Pastor/Health worker was waiting for us … he's also a trained mason…and he was ready to help too. 

We looked over the room, and listed off all the needed work:
screens on the windows and doors
an inside door hung
a counter built with a sink installed in it
rods hung for privacy to the exam area
the outside door removed and lowered. 
It was a lengthy list and we knew we couldn't accomplish it all in one day.  But the men decided to tackle building the posts to support the counter.   

While Gary, E. & P. all worked on making the concrete & laying the bricks, Pastor was outside sifting the sand to remove any gravel and Ray was hauling the cement bricks in to the men or helping Gary hang screens on the windows.

We ladies offered our help, but other than moving cabinets and medical items at the beginning, we were pretty much useless.  We offered a lot of advice though…
however we didn't feel like they paid much attention to it.  They would just look at each other and sometimes roll their eyes. 
Time for us women to find something else to do…

Part II   Culture Shock

I asked the ladies if they wanted to walk with me down to see Lina, who if you remember, had been badly burned last August.  She's recovering at home (Pastor is her father) and I review her progress from time to time.  As of several months now, she has been wearing pressure garments especially made for her in order to minimize the scarring that happens after severe burns. 

As we were walking down the path, I pointed out a shack in the near distance that Pastor had just talked to me about.  And what he said sounded so familiar to what I hear when I'm back in my own home country.

One of the young men in the community has recently built this shack and carries on some commerce there…selling motorbike oil and fuel, cigarettes, gum and so forth.  Pastor was saying that now this shack is attracting a lot of young guys and they just hang out there.  They don't want to work and they spend all their time just listening to music and watching videos on their cell phones!  He was deploring the decline of the youth there in the bush.  

It hit me that while modern technology can be a great thing, it can also create the same problems the world around!  The concerns are the same for their parents… If they don't work, how will they eat?  The exposure will give them unhealthy input that can break down their families and communities.  Will this also increase the problems in their village? 
I could have been back in the States listening to the same concerns of parents there…