I thought it was about time for another update. I've been meaning to, but either I just didn't find time, or when I went to do it, I just didn't feel like it:)
Quite a lot has been changing and going on around here. The coolest moments thus far involved patients. I 'adopted a patient' to visit in the ward and his name was Leonard. To my surprise, he had a cleft lip and palate, just like me:) He is a year and 1/2 and quite adorable. This little boy never talked to me, or at least to the extent of his vocabulary, but his eyes could tell a million words. I quickly became friends with his mother, and a few others in the ward. There was a 1 month old whose grandmother took care of her becasue her mother died at birth who also had a cleft(and quite a cute little one as well), then there's Geraldo who had a condition where his brain was exposed in the front of his head, and they had to go in and fix it so he didn't get miningitus or a head trama, and there was a little little girl who is 3 months, but looks like a new born, who had a massive tumor about the size of her head. She almost didn't make it through surgery, and had a few close calls following, but she's still hanging in there, and her mother is amazing.
The funny thing about all of these people- they don't speak english. I've had the chance to talk to the grandmother a little bit and convinced her that cleft lips happen all over the world, they are common and treatable, and they are not the result of witches. She was amazed and very excited about this and she passed it on to Leonard's mom, who spoke a language most of the translators did not. We mainly speak through smiles and hand gestures, which is dfficult, but very cool as well:)
Yesterday, I was at work and there was an announcment over the intercom(they don't use it too often so you know something was up) and asked all availible workers, or anyone who could be spared, to head over to the hospitality center(which I mentioned before I belive in my last post) because screening was going on. Now, screening is normally an ordeal in itself just getting people through, figuring out what is wrong with them through translators, and then sending them to the right people to schedule surgery, if it is necesary. The problem was that so many people came in with the same problems, that our schedule filled up, and we could no longer take patients, so we said no to more that 3/4 of the patients who came to screening(1,000 showed up).
I worked as an escort, which means that once the nurses or doctors told these people we couldn't help them, I had to take them to the gate. This seemed like an impossible task for me. After the doctors told these people ,who waited for hours, or days in some cases to be screened, that they would not be able to help them because it was medical and needed proper treatment, it was neurological and we do not have a brain surgeon, it was a hernia and we had to many adults coming in with those, or it was cancer and we coultn'd handle it, I had to walk them out. Some held their head high and walked out strong, and some were sobbing and didn't know what to do. I offered most of these people to goto the prayer station, and most of them said yes they needed prayer- again.. in a diferent language:) I learned quickly what pray in french was:)
I watched some of these people's hopes crash down, joy shattered, and dream of a new life ruined. It did make the ones who were on the wait list(of over 400 children), or those who were asked to come for surgery a great joy and it really excited everyone when that did happen, but man was it hard.
I left knowing I needed to get back and lay down because more than one part of me was shutting down, i shoved lunch down my throat and slept. After dinner, I went down to the ward to see my kids, and of corse on maybe the hardest day yet, 2 of my little ones were gone. Actually 3, but 2 I was close with. The third's name is Chisom, who is 10 and he has a facial tumor. My heart sank. At first I thought I was in the wrong ward, so I looked in the corner where I knew Geraldo would be, and he was there:)
I ended up sitting with his mom who pulled me over to sit with her, and held him for about an hour. I'm learning i have this gift of putting babies to sleep:) Almost every time I held the 1 month old, she'd fall asleep, and Geraldo was out like a light within about 10 minutes of me holding him:) I savored the moment, becuase you never know when they'll no longer be there(though there will always be babies in the ward, certain ones just really have my heart:) ) I walked around after i passed him to his mother and said hi to some of the other familiar faces in the ward. I was originally going to make bracelets for Leonard's mom, him, the grandma, geraldo's mom, and the 3 month old's mom, but it was too late. I'm still going to do it for those left, and I've decided to keep visiting every night until they are all gone. It's bittersweet becuase it's a greeat sign that these little ones moved out, but it's hard because I didn't know, so I never really got to say goodbye.
Other than that, work is going well.. I LOVE making coffee:) Might be something I'd like to do when I get home. It's really tough here, but I'm really learning how much I love visiting patients, even if we can't talk. Just sitting there and looking at these little ones will make most any heart just melt.
I got to goto an orphange, which was quite interesting, but I loved it. I woke up late and almost missed it, but luckily my mom was there and got me up just in time:) I found myself with an attatchemnt named Joey who was probably about 4 years old- what a trip:) He tried jumping in the car when we left:) THe saddest part though was that 6 of the kids- including a baby- had malaria. Most of them will probably survive, but chances are that at least one will not. The day we went, one girl looked especially ill, so all of the nurses went and checked on her, as well as the dr we had with us, adn they said she definetly has full blown malaria, and she was absolutely buringing up. It was very hard to watch.
I"m going CAMPING this weekend with probably about 30 people:) It'll be great fun:) My roomates are absolutely wonderful and we've clicked extremely well- we have a great time together:)
If youd' like to call me sometime- my number is-1 954 538 6110 extension 3433.
I LOVE getting emails and messages, so message away- I've talked to other crew members and it's pretty much agreed that the best part of the day is getting emails from people we care about, and boy is it true. It's really sad, though, when I get online and all i have is junk mail- so please- email me:):):)
Alright, until the next update, as they say here in Benin- Au Revoir!!:)