My glass is half full.
I am so excited to tell you that, finally, the OB facelift is completed! The walls are painted a beautiful green. The mattresses have been replaced. All the patients have sheets and blankets. Heaters have been purchased to keep the sick or little babies warm. In fact, the administration of the hospital has been painting the rest of the hospital and has bought many more sheets for all the wards.
Beanies for Ethiopian Babies. Super catchy name that the Belcher boys came up with to get the heads of the Soddo babies covered. They were able to collect 1,307 hats!!! They got their church, local retirement communities and friends involved. Little messages were tucked into most of the hats. Some of the families kept them others left them for the other patients to enjoy. The nurses her have been taping the messages and Bible verses to the walls or the beds.
Cara (Viner) Dumaplin wanted to raise money to help with the pediatric ward. Her children all go to a private school, Scottsdale Christian Academy, where they are allowed to wear jeans once a month if they pay $3. This money goes towards an organization each month. In September, they sponsored the pediatric ward. A presentation was given a week prior about what the money would be going towards. Benjamin Moyle, a third grader, with a huge heart brought his entire piggy bank. It was $21 and all he had. They raised over $700!!!
My home church in Muskegon, Olivet Evangelical Free, raised enough money for me to bring about 15 eggs a day for the entire year to patients at the hospital! They also paid for the next session of photos at one of the orphanages, many births, bought a surgical pelvic atlas (HUGE in teaching and learning!) and more.
Another pelvic atlas was sent (PERFECT! One for each hospital.), breast pumps, gauze, spices (for me :-)), gloves, baby blankets, baby hats, thermometers, BP cuffs, formula, stuffed animals… SO many wonderful things. A huge thank you to you all!
Last week, I went and visited Tamirat, Miracle. For those of you who don’t remember, he was 2 pounds when he
was born ten months ago. He was seizing, would forget to breath and was admitted to the hospital, I think, four different times when he was near death. I was almost afraid to go visit. Would he be sitting, smiling, crawling? Seizing? Would he even be alive? We got to his home and were welcomed by all the neighbors. There was Tamirat. He was all rolls and smiles. He can sit. Mom says he can crawl. And after he drank two cups of coffee he peed all over me.
Abiti and Bereket are now living with Ethiopian families. Abiti lives with his cousin, who happens to be my house helper. He will be with her until the end of the school semester and then move home with his mom. If he leaves now, he will not be able to be in school for the semester, so his mom wanted him to stay until the semester was over. Abiti’s “brother” was in the hospital and is now home doing wonderful! I have given Abiti’s mother a loan so that she can start her own business selling injera.
When I look at this incomplete list of things to be thankful for, I almost feel bad writing any more. But the second half of this post has been my heart. I have forgotten all of the things to be thankful for. I have felt like me being here has no purpose. I have counted the days until I can leave.
My glass is half empty.
It has taken over 4 months to do the simple task of redoing the obstetrics and gynaecology ward. I don’t know who I can and can’t trust. If I ask someone to buy something for me, the price will most likely go up so they get a cut of the sale. If I do it myself, I may not get a fair price. But then what is a fair price? So, I made trips to two different towns trying to find the supplies to redo the ward. I was able to buy 33 sets of sheets. After I brought them back to the hospital 9 sets were stolen. I am not sure if they were stolen by staff, patients or the patients‘ families. But they are gone. After two months the sheets were still not on the beds. Finally, I threaten to take the sheets back. If they weren’t on the beds the next day, I would bring them to another hospital that would use them. The next day, they were on the beds.
I bought paint, but the mixing of paint here is a guessing game, at best. I had gallons of the “same color” of paint
that were all different shades of green. The painter just painted. Rooms would be in patches of shades of green. I think the walls had to be painted at least 3 times before the colors were the same. And I am not talking all the same from room to room. I am simply saying one room, one color. For the next month the painter found me at least once a day to ask for more money. We had agreed on a price before he began, but afterwards he wanted more. Very typical. At one point, I was even accused of stealing some paint. Seriously!?!?!?
It took four weeks for the taylor to show up to sew the bedspreads. Each time I asked if he had appeared, the answer was he was supposed to be here ____, but never came. Maybe tomorrow.
There is more, but I think you get the picture.
After Abiti returned from his trip to see his sister, I went with him to his mother’s home. I learned how Abiti ended up on the streets…. His family lives in housing that is subsidized. They pay just over $1 a month for housing. This housing is reserved for the poor in the community. It is made of mud and has a tin roof. The floors are dirt. There is no running water and no electricity. Both of his parents do day labor. As in, if there is work, they do it. One of his sister’s had died just after child-birth two years ago. His mom took her grandson in, Abiti’s brother. A few months ago, he became sick. He constantly had diarrhea. Abiti’s mom had to stay home from work to take care of him. Suddenly, they didn’t have enough food for everyone, so Abiti was put out on the streets to survive. I came into the picture about 3 weeks or a month after Abiti was on the streets. About a month later, he moved in with me. Then we went to his house. His brother had kwashiorkor, protein malnourishment. He was SICK. His body was swollen up like a balloon. He could no longer walk or sit. He had bed ulcers from laying down in his diarrhea for so long. His main nourishment was grandma’s milk supply, which had mostly dried up.
One of the other street boys was also brought to his home. On the way to his house, he saw his older brother, who is also living on the streets. Their house was falling down. The roof had as many holes as not. Only his grandmother was there. She begged that he be returned to the city were he would be able to live. She said they had no food. The neighbors said it wasn’t safe because his father drinks heavily and beats them when he is home. He isn’t a candidate for an orphanage or for adoption because both of his parents are living. I am still trying to figure out what is best for him. He is living with a family here in Soddo for now.
It is a constant struggle to get the family members of patients to donate blood. We don’t have a blood bank, so it can mean the difference between life and death. I cannot begin to tell you how frustrating it is! The excuses range from, “I am just a friend” and “I had malaria this year” to “If I give, it will kill me.” I have tried educating patients families and talking to them until I am blue in the face, but somehow it just doesn’t work. So one day, I asked a mother, “Why are you so selfish? You would rather let your daughter die than give a unit of blood?” The mother agreed to give blood and left for the blood bank. She came back some time later wailing because she had the wrong blood type and now her daughter was going to die. All I could think was there goes my mouth again! We were able to find blood for her. What I find even sadder than the families not being willing to give, is the fear of those in the medical field to give. Two weeks ago, I had a mother who was in heart failure from her anemia (Hg 2.4). No one would give. I asked about 20 students to give and they all refused. The next day she died.
Only 5 of the 12 street boys are still in school. Their teachers have all asked for money and threatened to kick them out of school if they don’t pay. The school is a government school, so it is free, but since there is a white face behind these boys being in school it is one more opportunity for them to get money. I went to the school to ask about the fees and suddenly there were none. The kids still are asked for money. Six have been arrested for stealing. I still have lunches on Tuesdays for all of them. They get to shower and get clean clothes. Things in my house, small things, but still things, have gone missing. I wish I knew how to be a better influence on them. How can they learn that lying and stealing is wrong when that is all that goes on around them?
The oppression here is overwhelming. Nine times out of ten I am dealing with a half empty glass or at least it feels that way. I know that God has placed me here for a purpose, I just don’t know how long He wants me to be here. So many days I feel blinded by the half empty glass. I don’t even see that the glass is half full. I just see the emptiness. I do not tell you this for pity. This is just life here. I know I can’t change it, but I can make small differences in some peoples’ lives. I knew when I signed up for this job it would be difficult. I just didn’t realize what the difficulties would be. Please keep my patients, the street boys and all whose paths I cross in your prayers. I will be going back to the states for 3 weeks in January. I pray this will be a time of rejuvenation for me and adjustment to my glasses.