Monday, February 27, 2012


I'm not one to use idioms or be in bad moods, but lets just say this morning- I got out on the wrong side of the bed. This can't be too difficult since my bed is tucked into a corner and there is only way out of the mosquito net. I had weird dreams and the women screaming with labor pains below my apartment woke me up before my alarm at seven. With a restful weekend, I was sure I would be ready for Monday, however, even with a cup of instant coffee, I was ready to hide from people which is not like me. I walked into my office before devotions and realized- it was not my office because the national ward supervisor was back from screening. I was homeless first thing and then the rest of the morning- I felt jobless. Rightly so, I was only substitute for a time, but I learned to love being with the VVF ladies on the wards and supporting the nurses. I found myself in another logistics meeting feeling like I had no input and signing off on papers that I felt like wasn't my job, but did it with a smile. Later in the afternoon, I felt useful- collecting beds from a medical supplier and to work on how we are going to set up fistula camp. I had a productive afternoon- even being on the computer and running around getting questions answered. I spent some time with one of the patients, Isatu, now that I have become her private dietician making sure she gets adequate nutrition so she can heal. Finally, five o'clock came around and I was out the door, still trying to force a smile until I could let out my frustrations alone. I stepped out of my old/new office that I share with the surgeons, family planning, screening, and data entry... to find all the ladies sitting on the benches. They are there faithfully at five everyday waiting for dinner. I could smell the cassava leaves, not the most pleasant, but most of the patients not being used to three meals a day, were enjoying every bite. As I walked by, I saw smiles start to form, I felt a few pats on my backside, I hear "Allllie-sin" coming from Aminata who is trying to teach the other ladies my name. Others call me "sister" or "me pady." There are a few older women from the recent screening trip, that have been staring at me all day...  not sure if they have ever seen a white person before? Finally, a genuine smile forms on my face and is reciprocated with toothless grins on these women as I pass by. They are precious and I hope we get to help them in the coming weeks. There is a young girl on the ward with a chubby baby boy, named Moses and all I had was a few seconds to hold him this evening, but thats all it takes for me to be happy. I am asked to retrieve a few supplies for the nurses and when I return I see the ladies coming back in to lay down on their beds. I come to realize, most of them probably have not had a bed to sleep on ever since the fistula formed and they started leaking urine. I hear their stories, some lay on the ground or a makeshift bed of leaves or sticks so they don't ruin their bed sheets. I have a bed to sleep in every night. I have no reason to complain, to be in a bad mood, because I can get out of bed every morning with the right attitude knowing in my heart- I am waking up on the right side of the world to help these women in Sierra Leone. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012


First week: Screening & Fistula Camp planning

Second week: Ward Nurse Supervisor

Third week: Screening & Fistula Camp meetings

This week will mark my first month here at AWC and I will be back to ward supervisor for the next two weeks. Bernadette, the national ward supervisor will be on screening up-country so I’m the lucky (or maybe blessed is a better word) to cover her job while she is away. I love being a nurse, but this has been a stretch for me to be on the ward. You might have noticed, I have not mentioned the OR in my list of duties since I’ve been back. I am truly homesick for the theatre because that is where I’m most comfortable and I know things without asking hundred questions. I love being an operating room nurse ever since I stepped foot in the OR in Guatemala. I want to be there to hold my patients hands as they are receiving a spinal, to assist the surgeon, or when the ladies are waking up from surgery. I want to be part of the transformation in their lives and it’s hard to do that when I’m in front of a computer or in meetings all day.

One day sitting in the office, I take my eyes off of my current project on the computer screen and gaze out the window.  I see the patients at their table- they are just girls at heart that want to color and do each other’s hair. I hear them singing, learning the alphabet & numbers, and then enjoying the afternoon coloring with the crayons I brought from home.  At that point, I realized I could be part of the transformation in whatever role I am in- I just have to look for it. The time I’m in meetings about fistula camp- that is 60 lives we hope to change in just two weeks in March. The week I was ward supervisor, I went on rounds with our surgeons, spending a few minutes with each lady. I learned their names quickly this way and how to get each one of them to smile. Hawa & Kadiatu, both from Guinea, I would greet them in their native tongue- “Ja ramma”. Two smiles would form as they would converse on how silly it is to hear a white woman speak Fullah. Aminata always had a frown on, but slowly its becoming a smile when I make eye contact with her. Korea, is a quiet fourteen year-old, but always makes a point to greet me when I walk by her bed. Mama Ramatou, grasps my hands in hers, and before I even say “How d’body?”, she tells me “Tell God tenki.” When I see these ladies transforming before my eyes as they are recovering from an awful condition, I have to give thanks allowing me to be a part of it. Whether, I’m in meetings, restocking supplies in the wards, being a pharmacist or dietitian, helping put an IV in or making copies, this is exactly where God wants me to be as He is transforming my heart as well. 
Kadiatu & Hawa leaving to go home to Guinea.


The views expressed here are solely mine and are not the opinion of AWC/Mercy Ships.