Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Gladi

"Hannah" & "Obama" 

Yeanoh, Posseh, & Hawa
Simmity, me pady 
Baby Moses
Tewah, Kadie, & Posseh

Monday, March 12, 2012

Worth it

Today marked the second week of fistula camp. By your prayers and “by God’s grace”(that is how the national ward supervisor responds to anything you ask of her) we made it through the first week of camp and will do the same for the week ahead. Since I posted the last blog, we have not run out of diapers! I never made it in the OR, instead I was asked to run the camp on the outside- making sure patients had beds to go to and helping the ward nurses with the extra workload. There are long days, as we screen women for surgery, play “musical beds” with patients, and make-up nursing rosters, but I must say it is all worth it.

Sama, was our first patient of the camp on Monday. She has been here waiting for a month seeing other ladies come and go. Often I would have to encourage her that her day will come soon. I think it was Wednesday night and I was utterly exhausted, but got a call from the ward. I headed over after dinner, to supply diapers and drugs for the nurses. I took a moment to sit with the ladies as they drink their tea and right next to me was Sama- I saw a glimmer of hope in her eyes as she was out of bed for the first time after surgery. She held my hand and told me, “My body fine.”

Korea and I
Then there is, Korea and Bintu,- they are not like any other fourteen year-old girls I know. Both married young and have suffered unimaginable treatment- just because they could not deliver a baby a normal way. Bintu suffered through days of labor, being beaten until the stillborn baby was forced out of her body. She came to us in December, leaking urine, and barely could walk. With the help of physical therapy she gained strength and was able to return home to wait for an expert surgeon to do her surgery. That day came this week and what a joy it has been to see her smile everyday as she tells us “I’m dry.” Korea has a similar story of being too young and small to deliver a baby. After the fistula formed, she laid on the ground for months, not moving, because that would cause her to leak urine and stool. She has severe leg contractures preventing her to walk, but she is a “tough cookie” doing her physical therapy while recovering from major surgery this week. I pray one day Korea can walk out of the clinic fully healed.

Throughout the busy day, I love the moments that I have with these ladies. Gbassy hands me her little boy, Murray that I bounce around awhile while she rest. Mariatu grabs my wrist and she teaches me her local languange, Mende. I can always count on Simmity, sitting at the craft tables watching the sunset. I snuggle up next to her for a few minutes to enjoy the view before I head back to my office. I would of never thought I could keep track of 60+women, but now I know each of them by name.

It’s not about how much I work or the numbers of patients we get through this camp, but for each of these women- a chance to be normal again. A chance to live again. They do not have to worry about leaking urine and ruining their clothes. One day, they can go back to the market to be part of society, selling and buying goods. They can take public transport because there is no longer a foul odor following them.  I pray villages and families will accept these ladies as they go home. It’s a long difficult wait and recovery for these women and some may have to endure multiple surgeries- but they will say it is all worth it. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012


Since I’ve been here at AWC, a team of us has been working toward something impossible in my mind and unfathomable in West Africa. We sat down at the drawing board to sketch out a plan to triple our numbers. I did the calculations in my head and was first one to say- this will not work. There are not enough beds on the wards, nurses to cover the shifts, and supplies to do sixty operations in two weeks. I try to keep a positive outlook on most things in life, but this has been a time to trust God down to the tinniest details of this Fistula camp. Daily, I have been reminded everything is possible with God as we overcome the hurdles.
Our hospital director, Jude, went to a meeting with the ministry of health and through a series of events- we received twenty hospital beds. Now, we already have about 12 beds in each ward- where are we going to put twenty more? So, the hospital classroom and eventually our team dining room will become makeshift wards. On Thursday evening, I helped set up the classroom after our amazing maintenance guys constructed all the beds. It took me a minute to remember how to fold hospital corners on the flat sheets, but after twenty- I was pro. One bar of soap, a toothrush, a lappa (African skirt), and a t-shirt was placed on each pillow. The mosquito nets were hung and by the time VVF ladies arrived from the screening trip- the camp was ready.
As nursing supervisor, I had to make out the duty roster for a normal week on the wards- and that took me all day. As I was working on placing nurses on day, evening, and night shift- it came to be, we wouldn’t have enough nurses to cover two more wards for the camp. I found myself next to Bernadette, the national ward supervisor, on Friday night making a roster for Fistula Camp. Finally, at eight o’clock we completed the impossible task- and had just enough nurses to cover five wards. Another setback until God provided just this week, six on-call nurses that have experience in VVF. The supplies will be stretched thin (pray for diapers-is my new motto) and staff will work extra hard, but at the end when these women celebrate their healing in the Gladi-gladi ceremony- I will be giving thanks that “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  Matthew 19:26


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