Our first full day in Bo was a lesson in stewardship, discipleship and perseverance—all great faith and character building opportunities—and a long blog!
Six of us joined the Mercy Hospital “combined outreach” team in the Mende village of Manguama—which was all that could fit in the Toyota 4 wheel drive. Dave and Ken stayed at the Child Rescue Centre (CRC) to start work on the information technology challenges with the IT Director, Johanese Bahn (a CRC alumni). The technical to-do list is always long but this one involved both long-term architecture improvements, as well as fixing things that literally just broke a week before the team’s arrival.
Mercy Hospital has ongoing problems with their internet access, and the computer lab for the CRC residential children loss of connectivity was the most recent outage. The children look forward to their online learning each evening and the number of faces peering in the door of the lab made that outage acute… however, the connection for Mercy will be critical to support the new, soon-to-be-finished operating theatre.
In typical Africa trouble shooting fashion, they started with one project (the hospital) and shifted to the other when that task ran into a wall. By the end of the day, neither task was finished, but in God’s purpose and timing both were better understood and further along than when they started. And as a bonus, Dave and Ken powered up two of the new speakers that the team brought with them so the children could enjoy the improved sound for today’s “movie night”. The speakers will be used for more than movies but it was a great way to start.
The team in Maguama had a fantastic day, powering through to 5:30 P.M. doing what we could to help with the outreach program focused on malaria, HIV, prenatal and nutrition efforts in 5 adjoining villages. It was about an hour’s drive in the MTC 4Runner each way over seriously rutted dirt roads with Bill H. and Vicki in the “trunk”.
Working with the awesome Mercy Staff we helped as we could throughout the day with the just short of 200 moms and kids who visited. Jessica helped with the blood tests for malaria and HIV, Bill H. assisted with the consultations done with those with positive malaria or HIV tests, but mostly with traffic control when the crowds of mothers and children grew very large.
Bill B. and Leo were pharmacy assistants helping dispense medicines, Ilene assisted with the maternity evaluations, and Vicki provided assistance with Benemix distribution (a nutrition supplement for the villages’ children). The people who came to the outreach were almost entirely mothers, and/or expectant mothers, and their young children. It was a classic sight to see the many moms all walking to the clinic with babies riding on their backs tied on in lappas (2 yards of cloth), and some other goods being transported on their heads.
The noise in the clinic was one prolonged background mixture of the wailing of children, the calls of moms, and instructions of the workers, with solo performances of screaming or crying children built on top of them. Still the scene was dominated by the smiles of the kids, the appreciation of the moms, and the feeling of God being there with us as we all worked together to improve the condition of this group of His children.
To see people appreciating the help they were getting, in a setting that would have had any American running screaming for the exits and demanding the closure of the service provider, was a big eye opener on how truly good we have it and how much we have to offer.
(Filed by Ken Beutel and Bill Hafker)