Who Nose What Can Happen In a Day
It looked like it was going to be a rather slow day in the labor ward. Then again, we all know how fast that can change. After a time of prayer we set to out to do some basic checkups. There were only a few laboring women there so we were going to take this chance of a slower day to get some cleaning done.
I found a young mother who had not been attended to yet; “Jina lako nani?” I asked. “Halima Talaya” She responded under her breath as she cringed with another contraction. I took her vitals and checked her babies heartbeat, then I left to find her card among others crowded into an old box on the table. Reading what little information the card entitled I learned that this was her first baby, and she was only 17 years old, but age was no longer surprising. As a matter of fact that didn't seem so bad after meeting some 14 and 15 year old girls, or finding out that this is their second child and they had the first one was one when they were 11!
Her card stated that she came into the hospital two days before and was recorded to be at 3cm dilation at that time. Now it had been 46+ hours since she arrived and she was said to be only 7cm dilated four hours before. Halima was tired, dehydrated and only becoming weaker. Her contractions were strong but few. This was obviously a case of prolonged labor, but it had gone unnoticed like so many others. Oh how the harvest of babies here is plentiful, but the workers are very few.
I returned to her and continued to stay with her. I prayed over her and filled out paper work as I encouraged her and held her hand during contractions. I talked with her through a student nurse and found out that she wasn't married, but was engaged to the baby's daddy. I assumed that is where the small thin gold ring on her middle finger came from. Although women here, married or not, didn't often wear rings.
Within another half hour she said she felt ready to push. I started to gather the things needed from Halima's "purse"; cotton, cord clamp, oxytocin, injection needle, razor blade, gloves, suturing kit and the fact that she even brought cleaning spirits was a very nice touch. I also looked for the cleanest kangas possible to wrap her baby in. I wondered as I gathered her things what on earth a “western” hospital would do if they caught you bringing in these kinds of things. In the mean time the student nurse fetched what the hospital was able to provide- A kidney dish and a clamp.
Now my gloves were on and we encouraged Halima to push. The baby's head came good and slow allowing a good amount of stretching, and soon he was out and up on Halima's belly with a good cry! “Hongera Mama!” We all cried. She smiled big and tilted her head as much as she could in order to get a good look at her new son, although she didn't know yet what the sex was. She reached her hand out and tapped me on the arm “Asanta sana” she said and then went on to say it to all the other nurses standing by.
We began to clamp the cord but the clamp was broken, oh well it seems to happen all the time. My gloves were too dirty to use so the nurse next to me used her own, She tore the rubber lining off the wrist of her glove, but it broke, so she tore the rubber lining from her other glove, success! I held the cord as she tied it off with the rubber lining in her slippery hands and then we cut the cord with the razor blade Halima brought. I held the baby up and showed Halima the sex. “Wakika or Wakuma?” I asked. “Wakuma.” she said with a smile. And then he was sent away to be weighed and have his vitals checked.
The birth of Ishmael was a rather normal one, but after he was born, I had enough time to look up and see how busy the ward had become in only an hour. One baby was being resuscitated, another women needed suturing, a breach was half out, a stillborn was coming soon, they were trying to get a cannula into a mom for the fourth time, another mother needed a catheter, and now that my mother had delivered her placenta, she was still bleeding a lot! Who could help me in this mess. Not to forgot everything I saw happening only made up for one side of the ward, I had no idea what was going on on the other side.
I massaged her uterus, expelled colts and checked for tears. Her bleeding would not stop. I was finally able to grab a doctor and explain. He went straight away to manual removal of clots. Here you don't assume the least and climb to the worse, you take care of what could be the worse and work your way down to the least. I held Halima's hand and she bit her lip to keep from screaming as the doctors hand scraped along her uterus.The doctor did manage to get the rest out and her bleeding stopped, leaving her estimation of blood loss at 500mls. Borderline PPH.
Once all was said and done I quickly took her vital signs, sudden drop in BP and a very high pulse showed that she was going into early shock. Again I couldn't leave her and no one could help. She was tired but seemed to be doing rather well for such a long labor. So I managed to take care of what I could and that included getting everything cleaned up and her dressed.
As I was helping her dress on the bed she insisted on standing to finish dressing. As she stood up I noticed some blood on her back that I had missed and quickly reached for some cotton to clean it off, but quickly wasn't quick enough. As I went to wipe her off she started to fall forward, toward a nurse still trying to put a cannula into another women, she was fainting! I reached forward and grabbed her but her nose had already hit the metal bed frame. None the less she was caught before the damage was made worse. I laid her on her back on the dirty floor and we tapped her face to wake her as her legs were raised to encourage blood flow to her head. Before we could even bring her to waking up another student commented that her nose looked broken! Upon waking up another nurse started to ask her questions and we found out that she had not eaten in three days. Prolonged labor, borderline PPH and no food in three days! The case of this poor mother just never seemed to end.
I really didn't want to leave her, but still no one else could help. I ran and grabbed my bottle of water and brought it back for Halima. After getting her to drink a bit I cleaned her bed and got it ready to put her back. She fainted twice more as we lifted her up to the bed, but she was up none the less. In the following moments many of us tried to get a cannula in her so that she could be re-hydrated, but none were successful. So I went out to the local canteen and bought two big bottles of water and I was given two different brands. Once I got back to Halima I said “Moja mimi moja wewe.” (One for me one for you) and I let her pick which brand she liked more. I then went and got Ishmael who was sleeping soundly with his fist in his mouth and brought him to lay next to his mother. We sat next to each other as we ooooo'd and aahhhhh'd over her son and drank our bottles of water.
An hour, lots of paper work, check ups and water drinking later it was time to go. Halima was feeling and looking much stronger and she had also had a bit of food. I helped her carry Ishmael and all her belongings over to the postnatal ward. Her poor nose was still purple as could be but she didn't seem to pay any mind to it. In our parting ways I jokingly scolded her with my broken Swahili about needing to drink more water and eat more food. “Wewe maji sana chakula sana! Sawa!?” Once she got over laughing at my broken Swahili, she happily agreed to do so. “Sawa.” She said still chuckling.
Later that evening I was left wondering about the day. Wondering about how it was so great to be able to help, but at the same time I sometimes felt like I didn't know enough to help. I want over the steps of PPH management when I arrived home and realized the different steps I had missed that could of prevented some of the blood loss. I was a bit disappointed in myself for not remembering them.
During my wondering's I passed a man selling paintings, I stopped to take a look out of politeness and we struck up a conversation as he spoke English rather well.
When I told him I worked at Temeke hospital he immediately replied “Oh, you deliver babies there!” Sightly taken back by how he knew that I said, “Yes, why yes we do.” “Yes I know you do!” he said. “I have a friend who was a patient there. She went there to have her baby and when I saw her after she delivered she told me about a flood of white people that came into the ward. She said she didn't know who the people were or where they came from but all of them were kind and loving and what surprised her most was that they took really good care of her and never once asked for a bribe!”
After leaving the conversation I couldn't help but thank God for his consistent encouragement. I may not always remember every step or do everything right, but Halima didn't know that, and even if she did I'm sure she wouldn't hold it against me. At the end of the day both her and Ishmael were well alive, well cared for and very well loved!
4 Days of Life, Love and Loss
January 25 2011 – Tuesday in the labor ward
CPR baby # 1. APGAR 0-8
28 Weeks (Not the Movie)
This week I was assigned to work in the ANC ward (antenatal care ward) where women labor until they are far enough along to go next door at the labor ward. Yes ANC is where they labor and the labor ward is where they deliver. Today I worked along side the doctors examining each women to see if she was far enough along to move to the labor ward.
"Wewe nurzi dada." I said to Vaileti as I finished examining her. She sat up looking a bit sad. "Bado?" She asked. "Bado." I said "Kesho" she asked. "Hmmmm hapana....... maybe tonight." I answered as she gathered her things to go back to her spot waiting on the floor. As soon as she was gone another women was waiting in pain to take her spot on the examination table. But before she could get onto the table she stopped and bent over to vomit into a kanga she held in her hands. I put my pin down and went over to her, I stared rubbing her back and waited for her to finish. "Jina lako nani?" I asked when she was done. "Hydijah Mgumia" she said so soft it was almost a whisper. I turned back to the desk looking at the group of open boxes labeled "sterile gloves" but that is not what they held. I looked for the box pin marked "NOT SEEN" and began looking for her card. Soon after finding it I set it down and turned back to help Hydijah onto the table. She wasn't afraid to put her full weight on me while making her way up, and once up she laid on the table with a tired thud. I started to take her blood pressure but it took three tries as she was moving a lot and was hanging onto me trying to find a way to cope with the pain. I couldn't do anything but breath with her until I finally asked my staff Bek to take her BP for me. Bek took it as I continued to breath with the mother and confirmed my findings were right, her BP was 140/100... far to high. I marked it down and continued to exam to see if we could find out why it was so high. We turned her from her side to her back and then my mind made notice of why I thought something was different about her, her belly was much to small for her to be in labor yet.
After palpating, measuring and looking at her records we found out that she was only 28 weeks along. If well taken care of the baby might be able to make it. I reached for my pinard and started to look for the baby's heart beat... nothing. We grabbed a Doppler.... nothing. Bek continued praying over the mother and I prepared to do an internal exam. A doctor checked her first and said he only felt membranes and that if he pushed his fingers in any father he would end up popping them. So I want next with my smaller fingers. As I pressed my fingers in the membranes were so close that I also had a fear of bursting them, but I was able to reach over them and felt that the cervix was fully dilated. "She needs to go to labor ward right now!" I said.
I helped Hydijah up and another student gathered her belongings for me to take. I started walking while holding Hydijah up, she was hardly able to push one foot in front of the other so as soon as I spotted a wheelchair in the hallway I was quick to set her in it. The wheels of the wheelchair were just bare, bent, rusted rims and Hydijah had only a string tied between the front chair lags to rest her feet upon, but it was much better than nothing and often times that is all we have to grab form here, anything is better then nothing.
I got her safely to the labor ward and found an empty bed in one of the back corners. As I was setting her things down she stood up and lunged for the bed so fast that the wheelchair went flying back, but thankfully it didn't hit anything. Hydijah was only halfway laying on the bed when she opened her kanga... "Wait... how is this possible?" I thought. "I know I felt soft membranes not a.....HEAD! WE HAVE A HEAD HERE! QUICK PLEASE!" I looked around seeing that people were wondering why I wasn't delivering it. "I HAVE NO GLOVES!" I stated. I realized I used my last pair doing her exam. Celia, another student, was checking on another mother nearby and so quickly dropped her things and ran over. I was calling out for someone to grab the needed items but I realized no one there could, so I left the mother with Celia and ran to the other side of the ward to collect the needed things. Upon returning the rest of the small child was just coming out. Celia and I stared for just a second at the baby now laying on the table between the mothers legs as she too saw her first child for the first time. But this baby was not beautiful. His life had ended a long while back and his body showed it all over. We quickly grabbed a kanga and covered his face. We asked Hydijah what we ask all the mothers once the baby in born, "Is it a boy or a girl?" Celia asked with tears now welling up in her eyes. The baby was so deformed we had to show the Mama more closely. "A boy." She said it showing no emotion. Then he was wrapped up and taken away. I realized after seeing him that it wasn't membranes that I felt, it was the baby's head. But the skull had decade away leaving it's head to be as a bag of fluids.
Celia walked away and asked the staff to take over while trying to hold the flood gate of tears behind her eyes until she could step out. I saw her crying and I looked back at Hydijah who sat in her own fluids still showing no emotion. I wanted to cry, I wanted to cry for her. But no tears came. Another student came in and brought with her new gloves. So I slipped on a pair and continued helping Mama. The placenta came within a few minutes, it came just as dark and lifeless as the baby it once held. By now many students had heard what happened and were now coming to assist. And together we surrounded the mother and prayed over her.
Hydijah continued to sit emotionless as I began to clean her up. Nothing was said but I would sympathize with my eyes as I glanced up at her between my duties. Once she was cleaned, dressed and moved to a new bed where she could rest I prayed over her again and let her know I would be back. I went out to the hospital hall where family's sat on the other side of the wall in wait to see the new life brought into their family. "Family of Hydijah Mgumia?" I called out. It took a few attempts to pronounce the last name well enough for the people to understand, but soon a man came quickly with his wife and child to the wall to greet me. They all were smiling their biggest smiles in excitement for good news of a new baby. I learned that the man was Hydijah's brother and he spoke very good English. But it wasn't my place to tell them the baby had passed away, so I said nothing about it. "Can you please bring some water for your sister." I asked him. "Water. YES!" He said as he handed his little girl to his wife and then turned and started running to the nearest market. He soon returned with a bottle. I told him thank you and left them. I took the water to Hydijah and told her she was blessed to have such a beautiful family that was taking such good care of her. "Thank you." she said. I then had to leave her to go back to the ANC ward and finish my work.
I only worked for another half hour but in my heart I was continually praying for her. As soon as it came time to leave I quickly changed and left to go see her one more time. I walked into the labor ward and saw her still laying just were I last left her. and I was glad to see Louise was doing a check up on her. I walked up to her and noticed there was still no emotion in her eyes. I wedged my way between the beds and found myself standing just in front of her. "Hi Hydijah." I whispered as I laid my hand on her head and started stroking her rough dry hair underneath her Muslim head covering. But as soon as the words out of my mouth and my hand laid on her head, emotion filled her eyes. She grabbed my hand from her head and held it tightly in her own as she reached out and took my other hand from me as well. She pulled me close and pressed my hands to her face along with her own and the tears started to flood from her eyes. I squeezed her hands back as she hang on tightly to mine. I wanted to weep with her, but no tears came. So I prayed. I prayed that she would have time to morn, that she would have rest and be restored, that God would grant her and her family strength and peace for this time and that she would be carried in the arms of Jesus. I thanked God for her family and for the chance to be with her. And then I prayed over her son for her, I told her God gave me the name Micheal for him and that it meant angel. "Angel" she whispered it with a look of happiness. I told her Micheal was with Jesus and she nodded her head in agreement. And so I continued to pray that God would bless her womb and that she would be given more children and another son. I than shared with her that Louise who was still doing checkups on her had also lost a son, Hydijah turned and grab one of Louise's hands in a look of surprise and sympathy and tears had now started to fill Louise's eyes as well. Then we shared with her that God continued to bless Louise and that she did have another son. A smile came to Hydijah's lips as she was glad to hear that. And so I finished speaking.
Her grip on my hands had loosened as her eyes were now on Louise. She turned back to look at me and squeezed my hands again. "Thank you, Thank you, God bless you. I could not have done this without you. Thank you for being here with me. You are a true blessing. Thank you." She said while her eyes filled with new tears. A nurse walked up next to me bringing a canteen of porridge for Hydijah sent by her family. The nurse was being rough and went off on Hydjiah in Swahili. She than asked us why this mama was still resting here. So I told her about the stillborn. "Fresh or macerated?" She asked me. "28 weeks macerated." I told her and pointed to the bundled pink kanga laying alone on the baby bed that held the ones that didn't live. The nurse suddenly seemed very sad and began saying sorry to the mother. Her countenance changed and she started to speak more softly to the women. I turned and said good bye to Hydijah as squeezed her hand one last time and then turned and left her.
I saw many beautiful people this week working in ANC and many people taken care of and healed I was blessed in ANC with energy and was able to take care of many things. And more then just doing vitals and VE's I was also able to do some very deep cleaning which I believe is also a part of health care and the hospital staff said to one of my staff "Your student makes this place shiny. We are very blessed!" =)
We also started one of our mornings singing and dancing to a children's worship song. The nurses laughed and laughed at us, but we really surprised them when we burst out into a Swahili song of praise to Jesus. =D
Not Just the Joys...
"You have a heart of gold." She told to me with a huge smile. I knew what she meant by it; it was a complement, a way of saying I was sweet, kind, loving, happy etc... but this was not the first thought to cross my mind, what did enter my mind was an answer. An answer to a question I have long had. Her words held truth, and with them I suddenly understood.
In real life, there is death. I've see a lot of death in my life, I can still remember my Grandpa's funeral from when I was only three, and I have been to countless funerals since then. From my pets drawing their last breath in my arms, to lifeless bodies laying neatly in coffins. Death is a part of life, as much as we all try to avoid it, the fact of the matter is that none of us make it out of this life... well, alive. "Live each day like it's your last!" It has been quoted in a number of ways from hip songs to sweet poems. "As soon as your born, you start to die." That is what I have heard said before, but truly we all know life starts nine months before that... as soon as you're conceived your days are numbered, and they don't always measure up to nine months.
Since being here I have seen so much life, something so beautiful, so precious, and thankfully I can hang on to the memory of each life longer then I get to hold them in my arms. I write about them so that I never forget, I name them and share stories of how their first breaths of air began, I pray for them and share the excitement with their mothers as they set their eye's on their beautiful child they have long waited to see. But what I haven't been writing about, has been just as impossible to forget.
"How are you doing today, Kaitlin?" My leader, Melisa, asked me. "Great, grand and splendid! Excited and ready for another day here in the labor ward!" I said as our group of seven was standing around getting ready and about to pray before the work day began. It wasn't long before we were all out on the work floor checking on all the women, calling for the doctors, searching for the records of the different moms and so on. I had already delivered two beautiful baby's this week and I wasn't sure I was going to have the chance to do another one since we took turns as students, none the less I was enjoying smiling with a mom named Lucy. I was taking her vitals and we were getting close to wrapping up for the day, just then I glanced over to the bad across from Lucy... "Melisa! HEAD!... MELISA!" Melisa came running in through the curtains from the other side of the room where she had just delivered a baby with another student. "Who is going to take this one?" She asked as I was standing with my partner and good friend Tiffany. We had already agreed that I would do the delivery if the chance came up, so by now I already had my gloves on and Tiff was getting the clamps, cotton, and blades all ready to go.
Zainabu was her name. I didn't know much else about her at the time because she had just come in a little bit before and I hadn't reached her yet in the line of women needing to be checked. Now I was standing next to her getting ready to help her little one make it's way out, but with one glance I knew this wasn't good... meconium. The awful color of yellowish brown fluids indicated the baby was in high distress. Tiffany soon had a pinard and was checking for the baby's heart rate, she couldn't find it, but we prayed that it was only because of the baby being so far down.
None the less the baby was nearly out and we were trying to spare the mom any tearing by letting the baby come on it's own, there wasn't anything we could do that would have made it come any faster, well that is, anything that wouldn't cause greater damage. That is when I glanced up to see a nurse I had never met before walking our way, and I didn't like the looks of her. Melisa confirmed my thoughts before the nurse got any closer, "Oh no, not her! What ever you do, do NOT let that nurse touch this mother!" I glanced over at Tiff who was holding the mothers hand and helping her to know when push or rest, and I immediately recognized that look she gets in her eyes, she was in defense mode, her protective instincts were kicked in full gear now, she apparently knew this nurse as well. Anyone trying to harm this mom would have to get past Tiff first... and being a strong, tall, island girl who grew up in Asia knowing how to fight, she is not an easy one to get past.
By the time these thoughts ran through my head the nurse was now right next to me. We just continued our work, but kept a watchful eye on her. Sure enough within thirty seconds of standing there she had decided this mom had been pushing long enough (all few minutes worth) and she was going to help push the baby out for the mom, by ramming her fist over and over onto the mothers uterus she was going to push the baby out by hand, this was like her signature move that she did on all the moms causing them extreme pain and tearing. Thankfully Melisa and Tiffany already knew what was coming, as soon as the nurse raised her hands in a fist to the moms stomach... "HAPANA! HAPANA!" (NO! NO!) all tree of us cried at her, and in one motion Tiffany had already thrown herself over the mom to guard her and the look in her eyes told the nurse everything she needed to know. "No!" we said again to the nurse. (who by the way is quite pregnant herself). "This Mama is okay, we have her taking care of and there is no need to push on her uterus." Melisa explained to the nurse in a claimer but stern tone. The nurse chuckled at us, watched for a little while longer, then walked away.
The baby's head was just coming out now, "Cord around the neck?... Yes, and it's very tight." Melisa immediately grabbed the two clamps Tiffany had already prepared and started clamping the cord, then she cut it as the rest of the little boy made it's way out. He was limp, and covered in meconium. I grabbed a bulb suction and started to clear out his mouth and nose, he grunted a bit. I placed two of my fingers on his chest, a beating heart! "In Jesus name I say you will live!" I cried out. By now I was rubbing his back praying for a cry to come, but he just grunted a little more. I handed his limp body to Tiffany, and Melisa left with her to begin resuscitation.
I cleaned up the mother and checked everything to see that she was okay. No tearing, only 200ml blood loss. Mama was doing fine. I helped her place her fluid covered kongas in a plastic bag and get dressed, then I proceeded to wipe the bed down for the next mother. I checked the moms vitals and made sure her body was in working order. She was okay. She started to talk to me in Swahili, I knew she was asking about her baby, but right now I didn't know what was happening. By now it had been almost ten minuets and I had only been hearing the sound I was dreading... the sound of nothing. I walked through the two sets of curtains to the other side of the ward where the baby beds were held. There he was, little Daniel Obadiah as I had named him, laying lifeless as Tiffany and Melisa were trying to keep him from being lost forever... "one, two, three, one, two, three," Tiffany was pushing her two fingers into his soft chest on every count as Melisa was using a mask and air pump to fill his cheeks and lungs on every third count. I had done infant CPR on so many "dummies" as a lifeguard... but now here Daniel lay, not a dummy this time, but a precious little boy.
His heart never started to beat again. He would never learn to crawl or walk, he would never say his first words or know his family, nor would he ever learn to love, but as least he was loved. Nine months, that is all the time in the world he would receive.
Daniel was only one of many many deaths I have witnessed since being here, and it was by far one of the least gruesome. I have seen vacuum births, breach births, prolapsed cords, placenta previa, and premature births. One mother died of blood loss and another was highly infected after her child was ripped out of her. Mothers are cut open with blades when no pain killer has been given and many mothers have HIV or another sickness. What I didn't add to my last blogs was that across from the first baby I delivered on Thanksgiving, was the mom who was bleeding to death. And across from the mother I delivered on my birthday, was the mother who was having her baby ripped out of her, a large stillborn that the nurse just yanked and pulled in every direction as hard as she could (even if it meant standing over the mother on the bed) until the baby was out, then the mother was not taken care of and she was infected so bad that five days later her uterus was the size of being thirty weeks pregnant, and she still hadn't received any antibiotics.
Still, some how, some way, the only emotion I feel, before going, while there and after leaving, is excitement. What happens, happens. I can only do my part in focusing on one women at a time doing the best I can and I'm excited to be doing that. Yes I would love to change so many things, and as a team we are. We have made sure care has been provided for so many women, we have caught so many sickness the doctors didn't know about, and we protect the ones we are with as in the story above. But so often I wondered... why am I so heartless? So many girls come home and break down from the pain of injustice, they may cry, go off alone, write, watch a movie, listen to music, talk with each other or a number of other things so that they can process the day, but not me. I hate leaving and I just want to go back. I come home with my mind a blank slate wondering what tomorrow will bring. I don't feel pain, I don't get upset, I don't feel hunted by anything I saw. As a matter of fact when students were turning away saying they couldn't stand to watch a difficult birth, I ran and held the mothers hand. I couldn't stop what was happening, but I could make sure the mom wasn't alone, but at the same time I was wondering how on earth? I never could and still can not bring myself to watch not even one scary movie and now I stand here and watch real life horror.... and I don't even flinch. Why can I stand and watch in times when everyone else running away?
I've been wondering about this since I started working, but there was my answer... "You have a heart of gold." She said to me with a huge smile. "I know." I said. "It is impenetrable." I just thought I was heartless all along, but I realized then that God gave me a heart, it was just so strong that I could run in when everyone else is running out.
Twenty Years Later
December 4th 1990 -Kissimmee, Florida
5:16am and all the lights in the house were on, "It's a girl!". The cry of a new baby filled the room as the older kids gathered around the tired mother to see their new sister, "What do we name her?" Said the mom to her husband as her mind was a blank slate after the hard work, but dad didn't have a name either, how about the oldest daughter, Kim, being nearly fifteen she would surly be able to think of something better then dolly as their two year old, Baby Di, might have called her. And the three boy's were more then likely too hyper or grossed out to be thinking about names. "Hmmm... Kaitlin... Kaitlin Elizabeth Shock." It flowed so smoothly off of Kim's tongue no other thoughts needed to be added. Kaitlin Elizabeth Shock it was.
Well I've been known to have good memory, but it doesn't go back that far. So I really don't know if that is exactly how it went, but I like to think it went something like that. I'm not sure if it crossed anyone's mind at the time to think about where that little baby girl would be in twenty years, but if it had crossed their mind I doubt it would have looked anything like it actually did.
December 4th 2010 - Tanzania, Africa
5:16am... Florida time. It was actually 1:16pm in Tanzania. And there Kaitlin stood, exactly twenty years from the minute she came out of her mothers womb, who would have ever guessed out of all the places in the world, she was standing in the small storage room of the Temeke hospital labor ward. She was dressed in a blue nurse uniform along with blue gum drop boots, she had her pockets filled with everything from gloves to ink pens, her stethoscope was around her neck and her name tag was clipped onto her top left pocket. "Kaitlin Shock" the name tag read next to a less flattering picture of her, but often times the doctors just called her "Shock". I guess her big sister Kim wasn't thinking about the fact that Kaitlin would be a hard name for people in Africa to pronounce, so her father's last name would have to do, besides, the doctors rather enjoyed saying it and Kaitlin couldn't help but giggle at their impressions of being electrocuted every time they said it.
By now Kaitlin had decided she had everything she needed and began to exit the storage room. Inside she was filled with excitement and outside she was covered in sweat, none of it came from being nervous, it was simply the heat of Africa rising all around her, it seemed to trap it's self more between the walls of the labor ward then it did anywhere else in the world, but there was no where else in the would Kaitlin would rather be at the time. Today was a very special day for Kaitlin, her twentieth birthday, but since she wasn't very fond of being the center of attention the most pleasing way to celebrate for her was to put all the attention on someone else more deserving of it, and who would deserve all the love and attention more then a brand new little life!
It was a Saturday, our day off from the hospital, so it was the last place anyone planned on going, and we can't ever go without a staff. Everyone had made their own plans for that day and we also had homework due. Long before the day approached I was a bit afraid that my hopes of delivering a baby on my birthday were going to be crushed, but God kept assuring me that he knew the desires of my heart and he wouldn't give them to me to than just take them away. So I was excited to find out one of my staff, Marchien, and another student, Emily, decided to help make my dream of delivering a baby on my birthday come true! Unfortunately, Emily stepped on a sea urchin at the beach just a bit before we left and so she was not able to go, but another student, Amy R, came in her place.
Finally there, I had my hands ready for work and heart ready to love. The two nurses on duty had no idea we were coming, but they were more than happy to have us. With eight women all on the edge of pushing their child out I was faced with a question... who's baby was going to be a special birthday baby? I would have loved for all of them to be my birthday babies, but our time was limited and I knew I only had the time to focus on one. I prayed that God would show me the right women, but I didn't feel like it was any of the women in the ward, so I just started checking how all of them were doing and who looked like they might be the closest to delivering.
Mariam was her name, she was a very small mom with light skin getting ready to have her first child, looking at her records I saw she was a PMTCT 1.... HIV positive. We don't look at the moms any different because of this, but we do have to be extra careful. I was holding her hand and breathing with her, just lingering with her a bit to see if she might be "the one", and that is when everything changed.
I heard the quick patter of flip-flops form heavy footsteps coming fast into the room, I looked up to see a women across from me throwing all of her bags onto the floor against the wall along with the spoon that was in her mouth as she kicked off her flip-flops and unwrapped the kangas from around her chest and waist quickly covering the bed with them, now undressed she stood facing me with her back to the bed, she placed the hands on the high bed behind her and in one motion jumped up and back scooting her way up the bed. As soon as she was on the bed the words were out of my mouth, "HEAD! MARCHIEN THERE IS A HEAD COMING!" -The sight of a women running in and jumping on a bed about to deliver is rather quite common, but as soon as I saw her I knew I was there to be with her.
Rehema was her name, she was 24 and about to have her first child as well. PMTCT 2- Negative, but by this time I already had three pairs of gloves on and Marchien standing across from me giving me ques on what to do next, I mean this was only my second delivery. We used a needle to pop her bulging bag of membranes, it was the first time I saw a clean (not full of meconium) bag of membranes since I've been here, and now the baby's head was coming fast, Amy was busy getting everything from clamps to cotton ready to use and a clean konga to catch the baby in. "Sucuma mama! Sucuma!" I said, meaning that the mom needs to push. Before I could say much more a beautiful little head slipped out, "Cord around the neck? Nope." And so came out the body of the most gorgeous little girl. APGAR score- 10 out of 10! We laid the little girl on mamas tummy and the biggest smile crossed her face as she lit up, "Asanta sana" (Thank you very much) she said. By now the baby was letting out the most wonderful sound of a strong healthy cry and her pink arms and legs were getting a good stretch. I clamped and cut her cord as Amy dried her off and took her away to get a good full check. Mama Rehema was still smiling.
The placenta came soon after, but mom did have a little tear. We cleaned her up, took her vitals and found a doctor who could stitch her up. I held her hand while she was being stitched up and she just smiled at me the whole time and kept saying "Asanta sana". - Once the mothers are done they get up, get dressed and go sit on another bed with other mothers and wait till their baby is done being checked and brought to them, then they wait a little while longer, get checked a few times more along with their baby and then they are taken to another room, where they wait some more, are checked some more and then if all is well they are sent home.- But I guess Mama Rehama never heard about doing this. As soon as she was done she got up and dressed and gathered all of her things as quickly as she could, she walked right up to Amy who was checking her baby, and with full enthusiasm picked up her little girl and marched right out of the labor ward heading for home. I looked at the others a bit clueless for a second before running out of the labor ward after the mother. "Mama, Mama, BAS! NJO!" (stop, come) Mama turned and looked at me with the most innocent face, it made me think of a puppy that thought it was finally free and didn't understand why it was being called back. None the less she came back and we took her to where she needed to be along with other mothers who had just delivered, and one of these mothers was Mariam.
Marchien and I started on the stack of paper work that followed and Amy finished checking the baby and returned her to her mother, that is when Marchien realized something was wrong, next to Rehema, Mariam was laying, unconscious. Her uterus had not clamped down and she was quickly loosing a lot of blood. As we called another nurse over I will never forget what Mama Rehema did, she moved her things to another bed by another mother and laid her band new baby girl down along side the another mothers baby, then she turned and picked up Mama Mariam's baby and held is close, she cradled it and loved it caring for it as if it were her new daughter, and she did so until the Mama Mariam was taken care of and well enough to have her baby back. Mama Rehema may have never been a mother before, but I could tell she long had the heart of one.
Once Mama Rehema had her perfect little girl back in her arms we were sadly getting our things ready to go, but we sat with her for a bit and talked in the little Swahili we knew, I really wanted to tell her that it was my birthday and I had been practicing long and hard to be able to say it... "Mama" I said "Lay-oh meme see-koo-koo koo......-la... no... za-....we... no.. oh... lee-wa!" I couldn't imagine having messed it up anymore then I did, but Mama looked up at me and said "oh, you birthday!" "NDIO! It's meme birthday!" I exclaimed. "Hongara!" Mama said. (congrats) We then asked the Mama if she had a name for her little girl. "Bado" (not yet) she then asked us if we had a name. I personally thought it would be selfish to tell her she should name it after me since it was my birthday, but the little girl looked like a Kaitlin to me. None the less before I could say anything Marchien was already telling the Mama that she thought Kaitlin would be a good name for it, and Amy shared that she had prayed and got the name Caris for her. Mama smiled big and looked down at her little girl as if to think about it those names fit her. She looked back up at us and said thank you with a big smile. We weren't sure if that meant she was going to name her either of those, but it didn't really matter. We then prayed for her and the other mothers there, they were all very thankful. And so we left.
Chances are I will never seen them again, Mama Rehema or baby Kaitlin Caris as we call her, like my friend Lindsay said, "Loving them is the easy part, leaving them is what makes our job hard."
I know I don't have too
Day 57 in Tanzania
After a long time of waiting and praying today was finally the day for me!
We received our working visas a week and a half ago and the hospital wanted us to come start work right away... so we did! But the fact that we are a large group of students (16) it would have been too much for all of us to go at once. So a group of us (including myself) stayed back on base and continued working in the clinic. And although it was a very quiet week I still enjoyed building relationships, caring for women and learning bits of Swahili. Now this week starts a whole new set of adventures, because I am working in the labor ward at a "large" hospital! Monday morning - I awoke at 6:30 and enjoyed some hang out time with God before heading to our daily breakfast of maandazis (fried dough). After having worship with the team I ran to my room to make sure I had everything ready. "Name tag? ...Check! Uniform? ...Check! Stethoscope? ...Check! Big blue gum drop boots to wear in the labor ward? ...Check!" Once everything was packed and ready we climbed into the dala dala (big van) that had just arrived for us. Then we were off to the hospital! And after nearly an hour of dirt roads, traffic jams and trying not to run over people in the street, we arrived! By now we are well use to the stares of people as a large group of monzoongoos (travelers), but now we don't just walk around here... we work here! It wasn't long before we found ourselves inside getting dressed in our uniforms and filling our pockets to the max with everything we would need on hand from gloves to baby hats. We had a little meeting, prayed and then got to work! Now being the first day there for some of us we were to manly observe and call for Marchien (one of our staff) in case a women was about to deliver. So we entered the old plain room full of beds that held laboring women, when all of a sudden... "MARCHIEN! Here comes a head!" As students we all would have loved to stand and watch the birth, but as soon as we looked back over our shoulders... "MARCHIEN! Quick I see another head is coming!"...... well 20 min and four births later, we now all had our arms full of newborn babies and a new line of moms just waiting for when their baby will be out next.
Trying to decide what mother you should run to and help was like trying to pick a child to adopt, but I guess our choices on who to "adopt" were most often made on who was about to "pop"! But even in the midst of constantly caring for these women it's impossible to forget the situation you are sitting in. A building with walls that have already gone yellow long ago and windows that have been spray painted so that people can not see inside. The row of plastic covered foam beds held by metal frames on each side of the certain divided room hold nightmares of germs underneath but the tops of them are only left empty long enough to hopefully have a quick wipe down before the next women jumps on. As you try to shoo the fly's away from the women you can't help but notice the cockroach that just ran across a trail of ants crawling up the window next to the mom's head as you try to fan her with her with her own pregnancy record paper. And although there are shaky fans hanging from the ceiling spinning around and around with all there might it hardly does justice for the pools of sweat we attempt to wipe away with our uniform sleeve so that it doesn't drip from our noses again only to add to what is already covering the mothers face.random bug I liked
When delivering a baby you can only hope the mother brought everything she was asked too. The hospital doesn't have very many supplies so it's up to the mom to bring it for them. A few of things she needs to have for us are, 1. a razor blade to cut the baby's cord, which may also be used for an episiotomy. 2. gloves 3. a clap for the umbilical cord 4. a big roll of cotton, it will be used to clean her (inside and out), hospital tools and even her bed once she gets off. 5. a lot of kangas. (large pieces of fabric) to catch and clean the baby along with catching all of the fluids/solids that come out along with the baby. Than 6. a plastic bag, to carry all of her kangas home in so that she can then wash and continue to use them. (as they are often what the women wear here). If a mother forgets any of these things we have to make due with anything we have (such as a rubber glove lining to tie the umbilical cord) or we try to see if any was left over from another mom.
On top of all this the mothers have never had any education on labor. They don't know when they should be pushing or how long it should last (unless they have had kids before) and contractions are seen as something bad. For some the only way they know how to deal with them, is to scream. In between jobs we often hold their hands and with the little Swahili we know we tell them not to push yet but rather to breath. At times they latch their arms around you with all their might in hopes you don't leave them alone in their pain for the other women who are reaching their arms out to us with big eyes crying out in Swahili "Nurse... Nurse! Come! It hurts!"
The few doctors and nurses who are there are already stretched to the max, and well worn out. To most of them the women are just part of a long convair belt of women and if they can't ignore them they will do whatever it takes to get them out asap. If a baby is stuck that simply means that the nurse should pull harder and cut more. if the baby is still not coming that simply means another nurse should get on the bed at the moms head and push her fist into the mothers belly. If the mother screams from the pain she is told to hush up. And so it goes.
Now this is a glimpse of how it is, and has been. What on earth are we going to do?Help the doctors deliver some babies to take the stress off them in the short time we are here and then leave them to deal with all of it again as soon as we leave? Or did I think I would save a bunch of women by preaching to them in between contractions and then that be that? I can't even speak the language! Well I was praying a few weeks back about what it looked like to share the gospel with these women and doctors, and how I was going to do that. God answered me with Galatians 4:14 - "But even though my condition tempted you to reject me, you did not despise me or turn away. No you took me in and cared for me as though I were an angel from God or even Christ Jesus himself." That is the point... God sent me here to do! I am here to take action, to DO something! At times when I felt like I couldn't do what the doctors were doing, I realized I was doing everything they weren't doing! I was being there for the women, I was holding there hands, breathing with them, giving them water, and most of all constantly praying out loud over them declaring the love of God our father over them and their child. When their child is born we welcome them with open arms and declare God's love over them as well. -Once I was holding the hand of a mother in pain and praying over her as a doctor was suturing a tear, the doctor looked up at me with a sarcastic smile and said "You don't have to hold her hand, she can discipline herself to deal with the pain." I simply smiled and said "I know I don't have to." With that said I went back to praying and continued to hold her hand.
Some of the workers find it amusing that we like to build relationships with the women that are in and out so fast and that we come eager the next day to check on them, but behind there chuckles you can see they can't help but be influenced to consider to joys of doing the same. I mean to think of the fact that 100 years ago many white people looked down on them, and now we are here to serve and love them... I know it's all an answer to prayer.
So yes, that is how my Monday morning went. I can only imagine what Tuesday holds!
What is not in the city
Day 29 - Maasai
Isn’t it funny how we don't think were cool in America unless we have a big house, nice cars and all the latest name brands of fashion. Well here you’re cool... if you have the least amount of stuff! Yes most people here still try to gather all kinds of things to look cool and rich. None the less in the midst of all this commotion, every now and again you would see something different amongst the crowd of people, someone who was wearing just a red kanga wrapped around them with some simple sandals and carrying a stick or knife.... a Maasai! They are known for living among the lions, way out in the bush. They don't work or wear normal clothes, they just live life. They raise their own livestock and build mud huts in the middle of nowhere. They enjoy not doing much of anything at all other than growing old, yet they seem to be the "coolest" people ever. You can tell just by the way they hold themselves high when they walk that they are comfortable in their own skin.
We don't often see them in the city, so we left the city and went into the bush guided by one of the base staff. A small group had already been to visit them and they were excited to know that a larger group of us were coming back. As soon as we arrived we were welcomed in. I don't really know how to sum up our experience there other to say it was amazing. We sat around on mats under the trees and talked through a translator while drinking chi. We talked to the midwives of the village and listened in awe of how they bring babies out of the womb with no "technology". We had many questions for them as they had for us and we exchanged knowledge and laughs.
In the misted of talking a little girl’s hand bumped my head as I was sitting down and suddenly she just stared in shock, she tried to be inconspicuous in touching it again but she couldn't help but whisper to the girls around her about my hair... in a matter of minuets I was unable to count the number of little hands on my head. It was then that I realized, being the fact that they all had shaved heads and rough hair, we brought something new! When I turned around to look they all pulled their hands away quite quickly wondering what my reaction would be, so I reached back and pulled my pony tail out, then I put it back in so they could see how I did it, then I took my pony tail out again, and handed it to one of the girls and motioned to her that she could try. I soon had a line of little girls ready to try their hand at putting my hair up. Sometimes it felt good, other times not so much, but we all had fun.
Day 30 - Teaching... well at least we thought we were.
Our team has found a way to connect with a school nearby and they welcomed us to teach there... so we did. I went with a group to teach about malaria to a class of 12-14 year olds. We weren't sure how much they would know about it so we decided to be very basic. Upon arriving we found there to be 130+ students all sitting under a tree waiting for us to begin. We got all of our things ready, introduced ourselves, played a game and then asked "Do any of you know what malaria is?" Many students raised their hands and once one was pointed out she stood up and said "Malaria is a sickness caused by the female anopheles." Even though their knowledge on it was beyond what we thought it would be we went along with our teaching, drama and song ending it with a powerful testimony and praying for all of them. And they loved every bit of it!
Day 31 & 32 - first one, but not for me.
It wasn't my turn at the clinic either day so I wasn't there, but some of my teammates got to witness their very first births. There were three births over a 24 hour period that some students were able to take part in and it has been very exciting. I was even able to go to the clinic one evening and hold the little boy, Joshua, who was the first baby of the school year. The mom was only 15 years old. I'm not sure of the details of the other deliveries but I know it won't be long before I'm writing about being part of my own.
Day 33 - same but different
Baking cakes back home is a bit of a hobby for me so when the chance came to make a birthday cake of some of the team members I jumped on it! I must say it would have made me feel a bit more at home, but with no recipes, very few basic ingredients and a fire for an oven... it was quite different. None the less I was determined. It took a lot of adding, mixing, licking and even burning this and that, but in the end we found a way! We may have had to cut off the burnt bottom and cover it in flowers to try to hide our mistakes... but like I said, we found a way!
It is now coming to the end of week four for the team here in Tanzania. The days are starting to go by faster as more and more things are being added to our "to do" list. We are often busy working on the base, preparing teachings, building relationships, interviewing women of the community, taking shifts at the clinic, learning the language and spending time with God daily as well as pressing through spiritual battles with worship and intercession.
Since being here nearly a month now, the team is starting to get over the excitement of "being in Africa". Although for some of them it has been their lifelong dream. Many are becoming unsettled as we are still waiting for our working visas to get into the hospital. In the midst of all this we have started to recognize heavy spirits from the land come strongly upon our team in areas such as disunity (most of all with leaders), lack of freedom, self-pity and fear. Some of us were depressed, wanting to go home, overly tired, restless, sick, etc... We learned that although many different forms of slavery have taken place all over Africa, taking, selling, trading, sending, beating, stealing, buying, shipping, etc. Tanzania was a country that ALL forms took place in. Tanzania was one of the biggest country's taking part in slavery. With this there is a very strong spirit of slavery over this land and we all have been feeling it.
I believe that we cannot go into the hospital until the team is unified with God and each other. Because a disunited body does not represent the body of Christ. It also makes it hard to trust each other or fully grasp what we are learning. We had a lot of breakthrough this week but the battle is not yet over, I personally believe once we take our full authority in Christ over these spirits, God will release the working visas to us.
Some prayer points:
I Enjoy Coloring Now More Than Ever
Day 18 - a life full of color
Evangelism: How do you do that when you can't speak the same language? I mean there are the times when we are giving small health care teachings in the clinic where we also share testimonies and pray over the women... but what about the women who are not at the clinic? How can we share the gospel when we are outside of the clinic and without a translator? Well you do the only thing you can do... you ask God for some crazy idea and you go for it!
While praying for the children during intercession nearly a week ago God gave me the idea to go back into the village I had already visited a few times, but instead of going with nothing, going with paper and crayons. What a grand idea God! There are many kids in the village. We had been told by Martha (a teacher that is also my roommate) that the children do not often have the chance to be very creative, even in school they learn only to copy what the teacher is doing. So the next day I teamed up with a few other girls and we set out for the village again. The village is just across the street, but it is rather large so I tend to go to a small area that has pretty much become my favorite stop since I have been able to build a relationship with a few of them. So this area is where we went, I also took a little translator book with us.
-I'm sorry there are not many pictures of everything going on here. Many people here believe that when we take a picture of them that we are also taking their spirits to unknown places. Even if they don't believe that, it temps some to steal and others to look at us only for money.-
It was great! We went over the hill and into the village and were welcomed right away! They brought out their sitting mats and we all sat down with them. Often time the kids are shy but they didn't hid behind their mothers too long once they saw all the colors we had, and we were holding out the colors for them. Their faces lite up and they all came and sat down and started coloring right alongside us. In the meantime I pulled out our translation book to see if I could get a bit of a conversation going, I showed them how the book took English words and told us the meaning in Swahili, and vise-versa. They thought it was amazing! I ended up with a crowd around me looking at the book. They would point at a word and tell me how to pronounce it in Swahili and then I would teach them how to say it in English. We didn't always pronounce things right, but we had fun. When it came time for us to go back to base we were able to tell them that we were going home but we would one day return... in Swahili!
Day 19 - Back with more than a book
We have been working on what we call "community profiling". We talk to as many women who are pregnant or have children as we can in order to find out what the needs of the community are and how we can better meet them. The only challenge we have is the language. We have a few friends from base that help us when they are free. So the very next day I went with another little group back to the village... but this time with someone who could translate more than the book could. We got to sit back down with the women and kids, but this time the focus was on the moms. We got to talk and laugh with them about all kinds of things! It was a true blessing and I can't wait to go back again.
Day 20 - Church without the building.
What are some of the first things that come to your mind when you think of church? Big building? Dressing up? Sitting in pews? Listening to the same man every week? But when God says he loves the church... does he mean a building? Clothes? Pews? One man? No! He thinks of all of his people... together! As one body. Everyone who knows God has a part of God to share. So rather than going to a church, we learned how to "make" a church right where we were. We got into small groups of five and we all offered to bring things like, Praise, prayer, word of God, communion, and "one another’s" (a way to encourage or listen to each other) and we were to simply let the Holy spirit lead it. We Praised God by coloring pictures of things we were thankful for, we prayed out simple prayers of thanks, we took turns reading a small passage out of Matthew and sharing what we learned from it, we ate almost a full meal for communion and wrote out things we liked about each other. It was more than likely one of the best services I had ever been to. We all took part in it and it was so simple that anyone could do it... even the people in the village!
Day 23 - Seeing for myself
Answer to my prayers! I had been falling behind on getting the required amount of community profiles done due to not being able to speak the language. But on this day I was given a translator all to my own as well as two others who could help me write out the answers (as we ask a list of questions). In one morning I was able to completely catch up by interviewing five women. One just next door, two on the other side of the market and two who ran a soda and chips (French-fries) shop. It's so nice to just sit and talk with the locals here. None the less it's hard to listen to the injustice their sometimes given and the hardships they have no way out of. The first lady I talked with had had four children... but only two living. Her 10 year old daughter had passed away just five months before due to a hole in her heart. She had been sick since the age of 2 and was in a long line to receive surgery, just as she was coming close to a date of operation, she passed away. The mom had a video of her on her phone, she was one of the most beautiful little girls I had ever seen, and in the video all she did was smile. It was impossible not to think of my own nieces and what I would have done had that been them. The other child she lost was due simply to a stressful labor. In the womb the child became distressed and ingested its own meconium and passed away just before being delivered. We could see the tears in her eyes as she told us about them, but not a tear fell. The women here have to be strong and accept that it is just life.
I realized that many of us can know the problems in the world; the difference in doing something is knowing the people.
Day 25 - A hard dream
Ah the clinic again! The clinic we are working in -until we get our working visa and go into the hospital- is rather small and there is rarely a woman in labor when we go there. Sometimes there is very little we can do. But we do small teachings when we can get a translator and take turns working in the different rooms. Back when I was only thinking about doing this school I knew would have hard days, but none the less I told myself I would be thankful because I was living my dream!
This day put that thinking to a little test. I was fumbling all over feeling like I was getting everything wrong, not by much, but none the less I was wrong. I know I'm just a student with a small bit of training trying to do what these women have been doing for years, as they watch me. The day was hot and I was sweating far more then I cared to. Information was slipping from my mind and I felt a bit lost wherever I was. I finally went into the injection room where I could simply watch and learn as needles were slipped into veins and muscles. I enjoy watching them do their job as watching one patient after another come in for something. After a half an hour I felt ringing in my ears and a heaviness come over me as the room started to spin. I knew I should not stay in there as I remembered one of the students describing this feeling just before fainting... the day before. So I left and sat in the empty labor room and drank a good amount of water. It was only a minuet before I was back on my feet watching injections. It wasn't much longer before we had to leave. Walking away from the clinic after a hard day... I was still thankful. I know I'm still learning and there will be many mistakes I'm sure, but in the midst I get to be guided by those with much more knowledge, and hopefully a good amount of patience.
Living the Life We Have Been Given
Day 13 - A taste of Africa.
Saturday Oct 9 2010
Ah the sight of a bunch of western girls trying to cook over a fire for 30+ people. It all started with a simple idea of thanks.
The base we live on here is run by a handful of hard working Tanzanian men and mamas. We all help them with daily work duties to help lighten the load but as a team we just wanted to do a little something extra. So we had the idea of setting up a nice breakfast for all the women. We started preparing a few days ahead by making them each a card full of words and scriptures we had received for them and we even has them translated into Swahili. We used kongas and picked flowers to dress up the classroom and some even volunteered to take care of the children. We got up early Saturday morning and started right away with the jobs we had volunteered to do. I was put in charge of making homemade chi! My favorite! Its homemade everyday here, but I had never made it. It took a lot of taste testing, but God must have heard my prayers because it turned out to taste pretty good!
Once the room was set up, the food was all made and all the women arrived we got to serve them a nice breakfast of eggs, chapatis, fruit and chi! After a bit of fellowship (although we do not all speak the same language) we called out their names one by one and washed their feet, gave them a little massage and painted their toenails as others prayed over them. At first most of them were very shy and covered their faces in a bit of embarrassment as there where laughing. The morning went very well and they all walked out of there with clean feet and big smiles.
We found out later that it was really a bigger blessing then we thought it had been. In this culture the women know from birth till death it is their job to cook, clean and bear children and that's just the way it is. So simply saying thank you by taking on their job for a morning was already a big deal. When it came to washing their feet, that was an even bigger surprise because they have very dirty rough feet and even another African would not have wanted to wash them. So for us to not only be white, but we are also considered their guest, to clean, cook, rub their feet, and paint their toenails was a huge blessing. We found out that it was the first time they had had anyone do that for them.
Here they call us munzugos. Everywhere we go we hear them calling us. We know we are no better than any of them, as a matter of fact we are here to serve them, but it's hard for them to see us that way. So we are starting to change that.
Day 14 --- Drama, Drama, Drama
Sunday Oct 10
Time for Church again! We visit a lot of different churches here so this week I was at a different one. Again, being a guest we are expected to bring something to share. So we sang some songs, shared some testimonies, preached the whole sermon and we even did a drama! This church was much bigger from the last one I attended, and upon leaving EVERYONE shook EVERYONE'S hands while singing and clapping. It was such a joy!
Later in the evening while I was writing in my journal I happen to look off to the side and noticed something that in the case of me being me, it brought a huge smile to me face! Not so much to the girl to who came to see what I was taking a picture of... but I liked it. His name is fuzzy. He is a tarantula! For someone who always loved bugs growing up I can't think of a better place to be. I have seen the most amazing colors and sizes of all kinds of bugs since being here!
Day 17 --- Being there
Wednesday Oct 13
YAY another day at the clinic! It was day of weighing babies, giving shots, doing teachings and talking with the people to learn more about the community. In the midst of the hassle and tussle there was a woman laying alone in the labor room waiting to deliver her baby, but this was not a time of excitement and rejoicing. We found out that she was only 7-8 months along, but her baby had passed away in her womb five days before. She was in induced labor. She was not allowed to get up because of the treatment she was given and things were moving very slow. I asked my leader for permission and left the area I had been working in. I made a little stop at the shop outside and picked up a couple of bananas on my way to the labor room where I found the mom, still laying down and facing the wall with her back towards me. I wasn't sure how she would react but I wanted to be there for her, so I went and placed my hand on her and said "Habari mama?'" (how are you) She turned towards me and I could see her eyes filled with tears. I showed her the bananas and she was very thankful for them. I was very thankful that she took them as well. I folded my hands and asked her if I could pray for her as well, she also was grateful that I asked. I placed my hands on her belly and prayed for her. I was able to sit with her for a bit longer and show her how sorry I was. Although we didn't speak the same language I could tell you was at peace and was glad someone was with her. I soon had to go back to my other jobs but I kept checking on her throughout the morning and soon it was time to go home. I don't know why the baby didn't make it, I don't even know the mothers name, but I do know I was placed there to care, comfort and pray with her even if it was just for a bit.
I initially started this blog while working overseas to keep my supporters updated, then I did it a time as a required assignment during my midwifery school, but now I write but because I want to. So now I share my current journeys, in hopes that others can learn from them, or at the least have a good laugh.