|Three of the new babies in Chambrun!|
Written by: Katherine Clancey (www.katherineclancey.wordpress.com)
Monday: My ears spent the day readjusting to Creole. Every time someone spoke to me, my brain kept shutting down because it’d had the luxury of thinking and speaking one language for a few days. So, I spent all day forcing myself to calm down and listen. Ah, the joys of continually learning a second language ☺ We went down to the village that afternoon and a few minutes after we had arrived, a woman came over and told us someone was sick. When she pointed over to our friend’s house, we were confused. Brooke, Leslee, and I entered her home. She sat on the ground holding her baby. After my eyes had adjusted to the dim lighting, I saw that her once plumpy and thriving son was now severely malnourished. The three of us sat down on the dirt floor next to her and listened. She explained she didn’t know what was wrong, he had been crying a lot and someone had told her to stop breastfeeding him because her milk was no longer good. While she was talking, the baby reached his twig like arms up and clasped his fingers together. His eyes, which looked abnormally large on his sunken face, traced this movement like any normal 7-month-old would do. As I sat there on the floor with this woman, covered in dirt, searching for what to say because I didn’t know why either I thought, “Yesterday I was drinking Starbucks. How do you ever explain moments like this to people?”
Tuesday: Our friend brought her malnourished son through our clinic and we gave them supplies to go to the hospital immediately. We told her she needed to speak strongly to the hospital workers, to fight for her son to be admitted. There are too many sick children and not enough resources; hospitals can’t admit every sick and malnourished child that comes by. As soon as she left we went to take care of a young woman whose family members had carried her in. A year ago she’d started having seizures multiple times a day and was now blind, deaf, and unable to walk because of them. I watched as she cried out in confusion, her family members helping her go to the bathroom and cleaning her up. We gave her IV fluids and we gave her seizure medication. The brain damage that had already been done was permanent. They took her back home.
Wednesday: Several of the women have been pregnant down in the village, and that afternoon we were going to meet another new baby. I felt privileged to enter our friend’s house and see her smiling and holding her baby. I gave her a kiss and she said her stomach hurt but otherwise she felt ok. Her toddler daughter came walking in and pushed through the crowd of kids to get closest to her new brother. I asked the girl if she knew who the heck this baby was her mom was holding, and both her mother and I giggled when the little girl nodded. But, as we walked back that day I couldn’t help but confess to Brooke and Leslee what’d I been thinking for a few months. I watched each of these women as they were pregnant, watched their bellies get bigger with life, and watched them hold their newborn babies. In my mind, I kept counting, “One, two, three, four babies…and statistics say…so which one will die?” They nodded in agreement that this was a frightening yet true thought. I silently prayed that God would not let these babies become statistics.
Thursday: I handed a patient’s chart to Brooke and then turned around to see a woman half-dragging her husband into the clinic. As I started my physical assessment, his wife told me that 4 days ago he’d had a really high fever and then a seizure. After the seizure his muscles had been contracted like this with immense pain. All of the nurses were thinking the same thing, “Why did they come here? That’s not just a cold or an infection, they should’ve saved their money and gone to the hospital.” After the doctor referred them to a hospital, Brooke talked to the wife about how important it was they go. The wife told her that on Sunday after his seizure, she knew he was really sick but they didn’t have money to go to the doctor. So they waited 4 days until they finally had enough money. We were the closest clinic so they came to us. The woman’s eyes were wide the whole time Brooke explained that her husband and the father of her children was severely sick. Their ride to the hospital came and out he was carried. After he left, we admitted a 13-month-old child into our malnutrition program that was so malnourished she could barely hold her head up.
Friday: “The baby died.” We had just triaged the first patient. “What? Which baby?” “The newborn we visited Wednesday.” Statistics were right again. When we went to visit our friend for the second time in two days, we found her sitting in her sister’s house. There were three other babies in the house, ranging from one month to four months old. It highlighted the injustice of her situation for me as she sat there holding another woman’s new infant. I don’t know why infant mortality is so high in the village. And I don’t know how to tell someone that Jesus loves her when she doesn’t believe in Him and she has just buried her child. “Two weeks ago I was at a restaurant watching a basketball game…” I thought to myself as we walked home exhausted from the week.
So, I still don’t know. I don’t know how to “fit in again” or answer questions well. I don’t know how to explain to people that you can see God very clearly some days and other days seem to scream, “There is no God!” I can’t explain how deeply blessed and how heavily burdened I am from living here. I ended my week by reading this…
“Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. We believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” -Romans 8
|They aren't quiet ready to sit up, but that doesn't stop us!|
|Four new kids we've admitted into our malnutrition program.|