Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Great Surprise: Community, Clinic & Committee

This past Thursday started out looking a bit like it was going to be a challenging day.  The sky was full of dark clouds and as I got my medical bag ready and packed a snack bag, I wondered if I would end up getting rained in at the clinic later that morning.  It had only rained Tuesday and it was a really hard rain, so I was expecting to have to brave 22 kms. of muddy, gullied and watery road all the way out to the clinic village.  To put it mildly, I was super glad that Gary had had the 4 wheel drive on our truck fixed just last week!

It was a crazy ride out, even braving the filled and rushing spillway in Koulbou, praying it wouldn't wash my truck away (though Gary says it won't).  There were a good number of patients to be seen, especially considering the difficulty of getting to clinic after a rain, and all of the field work that most villagers are busy doing.  We saw the usual illnesses and by early afternoon, we had finished.

I knew that a committee meeting was scheduled for around that time, and sure enough, several of the members had arrived.  This Clinic Committee is a relatively new development, since the spring when there were some problems at the clinic and the village chief had to step in and help us out.  Back when we had the meeting with him, he told us that he was "giving us a committee" to make sure that the clinic would continue to operate well… the committee would make sure that any problems we had would be ironed out. 

As we waited for other committee members to arrive, I went over the homework I had given my two helpers, Yempaabu and Antionette, on the Respiratory system and its illnesses.  The girls did quite well, considering that the whole worksheet was in French (they are learning French). 

Finally when we finished, the committee members decided that enough of them were there to begin our meeting.  7 of the 8 members are Gourmantche, with one member being a Fulani.  I was really glad that the chief had made sure that both people groups were represented.  About 5 of them were present, and so we began. 

The head of the committee spoke to me, "We haven't had a meeting in several months and we wondered if you had any work for us."   (Me: Surprised)

I told them how happy I was to have their support and help, and that I didn't want to interrupt their work at this busy time of year. (Everyone possible is out in the fields to plant or hoe)

He replied, "Well, we didn't know if you wanted our help with anything…" 

So after assuring them that we value their help, I gave them several areas that we need help with…
"Let's start with the river bed that is washed out on both sides and the rocks have shifted and it's full of water and difficult for me to drive across to get here"  That generated some sounds of agreement and discussion on how to fix it while it's full… but they would get it done before my next trip out.

Next topic: A hangar for the back side of the clinic to provide shade for the "waiting room".  Some discussion… Verdict: we'll have to wait until after the harvest when there will be millet & sorghum stalks to make the thatch.  Then they will see to it that it gets put up…"and while we're at it, we'll clean up the grounds and put a fence around the clinic property."

And so it went...
 

As I sat there and looked around me at these men, I couldn't help but feel super blessed to have them on my team - villagers who are so committed to the clinic and to helping us make it a really good one.  They are volunteers and they obviously take pride and satisfaction in helping us to do our jobs for the whole community.  

As we talked about the last item on the agenda… the upcoming malaria prophylaxis for children ages 3-5 from 7 villages around us, I was thanking God for all the good help He's given me in my staff and my clinic!  This is Community Health at its best.