Sunday, May 19, 2013

Final Week in Africa

So not sure how long its been since we posted.. 2 weeks? 9 days? its pretty much becoming a blur these days.
We have had a good couple of weeks in the hospital. Lots of experience and I have been privileged to welcome 4 babies into this world in just these last 2 weeks! What an amazing experience it has been.  I agree with one of my classmates who said "Sometimes I just stop in the middle of what I am doing and say, "What am I doing? This is amazing!" Truly we never would have gotten these experiences apart from this school. We have been from the beginning just able to "go for it" and its been such an amazing way of learning. In 9 months time I've been able to conduct 24 live births and and 5 unfortunate still births, assisted and watch countless other births and given newborn care and resuscitation. As a team in 9 months we have conducted 499 births!! One of our classmates also had the privilege of welcoming the 4000th baby delivered by the Birth Attendant School since 1997!
We have as a team experienced a lot of laughs and joy as well as loss and sadness.  We have learned to work together to fight for life and give complete care to mom and baby.
Recently there was a article written about SubSaharan Africa being the riskiest place to be born.  The article states that over 1million babies die within the first day of life and "On average, one in six African mothers is likely to lose a newborn baby, a commonplace but largely untold tale of grief."
Read more here...
Reading this article and experiencing these losses over the last 6 months really opens your eyes to the need not only for mother and child healthcare, but for simple healthcare teachings that can save lives. Nutrition and Anemia top the reasons for these deaths and not just nutrition when the mother is pregnant but the nutrition when she (the mother) is a child growing and developing. Sadly, most of the malnourishment doesn't come from lack of food but lack of knowledge of how to eat the food around you to gain the right nutritional balance.  For the example there's a mindset that says I can't afford to feed my kid meat but then overlook the beans that are within reach. Or they can't afford dairy but then cook the leafy greens that can supply calcium to the point where they lose their nutritional value. 

This last week we experienced the loss of a couple of newborns who our team had been checking up on and caring for.  Purpose sadly lost her fight with life and succumbed to an infection.  With her brain exposed the way it was it was only a matter of time.  We are sad but thankful that she is not in pain and is with Jesus.  Her family has come around and were able to celebrate her short life.

Two other babies also went to be with Jesus this week.  One was an orphan because her mother had died at birth and one of our classmates who is a Zambian resident was set to take her in for foster care.  The other was a baby we knew because of relationship that was built while the mother was in the antenatal ward.  These things never get easy. Especially when its viewed as culturally normal and you know it's not meant to be.  I am thankful for the times we have been there to give comfort and dignity to those who are suffering.

Bruce here. Zambia for the kids and me has been less exploring and more home time. Since we have a small house here in a compound with a playground it's been a chance for the kids to get a bit more settled with our homeschooling routine being interrupted with playtime outside rather than consistent field trips every week. I've visited the hospital only twice but the second time I got to observe an orthopedic surgery. An older gentleman had dislocated his ankle (5 years ago!) by falling out of a tree and had been walking on it like a club foot. So they opened his ankle, chiseled away the excess bone, repositioned the ankle and fused it with some hardware. He won't really have much range of motion but at least he'll be able to walk on the sole of his foot again.
Another privilege I had was this past Friday when I got a chance to teach a local soccer team about God's plan for marriage and sex and why the alternative is so damaging. They were really grateful and had a lot of questions which, with God's help, I think I was able to field.
This video is from Easter when a group from Malawi came to perform at the seminary where we are staying. Amazing voices! Check it out!

We have one day left in the hospital, mostly to say our goodbyes.  Then we have a few days of final projects, debriefing and then Friday the 24th we fly to Perth! It's been an unbelievable journey. We are so blessed to have had this amazing year but are really excited to be done!
I leave you with a few team pictures.. and 4 pics of the kids... one from each country just to see how they have changed.
ready for the labor ward!

Abigail getting her baby snuggles in with Ezra (the 3 month son of our staff Rachel and Menno)

Zambia !!




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