Tuesday, 7 October 2008

To kill a Snake.....

This is my new room (I moved into the MercyShips team house back in August for those that didn't know)...and I love my new 'me space' as much as I love the community living!
The 3 men on top of my new room were killing a snake!
Community living to the extreme meant that I have been sharing my appartment with a snake!
So having found it this morning...and being totally freaked out...I soon called the snake busting brigade...and they came from the mercyships clinic bearing sticks and machetes, and started peeling off the corrugated iron that makes my roof.

Soon we had one snake body (which wriggled around flipping over and around for ages) + blood.....

And one snake head.....

They say it was definately a posinous one..I'm not going to question it, just wanted to make sure there were no others!!

I was so proud of our men, and they too were proud of themselves (although scared in the process jumping and running across the roof themselves at times).

They put the dead snake in a bag and took it back to the clinic to show everyone as their own kind of trophy!!

The thing that worries me is that we also found 2 skin sheddings...meaning it had been up there a pretty long time! Right in my roof!! In fact the place where it was caught was right above my bed. I've filled every crack and hole I can find in my ceiling.

I SO hope there are no others!

Monday, 6 October 2008

Amara Update

So I did call the NGO hospital....
after a few calls back and forth (and a little begging), they agreed to let me send him.

Amara does not live any where near me so then more communication by phone had to take place to get the action happening.

The problem I had anticipated happened of course.....the family were in the middle of preparing lots of food for the Muslim pray day and had no intention of going anywhere. After much persuading (and lots of phone credit), they agreed to eat their food (quickly) then go straight there.

So the journey would have taken about 1 and a half - two hours.

But finally they did arrive (the hospital had called me in the meantime to say they had not shown yet!)

After an afternoon of examinations, tests and XRays....it turns out that Amara has TB of the Spine.

I was so relieved to finally get to the bottom (I hope) of this situation, and it is not all bad news for Amara either - it maybe that with treatment that the effects of spinal cord injury will lessen, although I think he will always have a severe disability now.

So he was referred to a TB treatment center, where the treatment should be free. He should have gone today. I will follow up later this week. He will need to go daily for treatment initially and then less often but for up to 8 months I think.

I just pray and hope that the family stay compliant with this process and can see why they should, for Amara's benefit.

Based on what the family told me a year ago I was led to believe that Amara had broken his spine. At the time I was told it was a sudden onset paralysis, and there had been a fall involved. At the time, I had not been able to refer him anywhere to get XRays as the roads and facilities were too bad and would have furthered his injury.

It may have been that the spinal cord injury was caused by the TB.
I had referred Amara to see Doctors on at least 3 other occasions over the past year, all with frustrating outcomes. It's a shame it has taken this long to get an accurate diagnosis and hopefully correct treatment. In terms of my treatment it would not have varied much, a spinal cord injury acts and reacts the same whatever the cause, but it would have been nice to have prevented it from getting worse.

So, as you can see, with poor history of problem, many a story being told, lack of medical facilities, poor compliance of families..........
it's the children who suffer.

Praise God that finally we have made some sense of this tangle of a story.

Lets hope that all the others get sorted for the sake of the child too.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Vez's Adventures in SL Oct 08

Greetings dear friends....

Another month has flown by and I hope this letter reaches you all in good health and good life. I feel thankful for the many surprises this last month has brought...some fun, some exciting, some very wet and many frustrating. But above all, many disabled children of Sierra Leone have continued to have a smiley faced Vez and a happy Abu visit, to share the hope and love of Christ.

So the fun ones.....
We've been meeting new patients and getting to share with new families and communities. It never ceases to amaze me that whenever we get referred a child in a new area, that we can make an impact on that little community. You see, anything new that is going on in your neighbourhood, everyone has the 'right' to get involved in. This gives us a great opportunity to show people that we love these little ones and have the patience to make life a little better for them. It gives the child and the family more value. Although sometimes I feel, that a spectacle is being made of the child, as that is the way my culture would translate it, generally people are impressed and encouraged. I hope it means that when I am not there, and when the child's mother has gone to market etc., that there are other neighbours who also know how to do some stretches or facilitate play with them. Community living is so much more open here and without the boundaries of 'my house, my child', everything is shared with each other – including the looking after of children. It is again a joy to be influencing not only the disabled child, but also how so many others see and interact with any person with a disability.
The exciting ones.....
A sad situation turned into a happy one was seeing an orphanage (where I've had 4 patients)which used to run well, but currently undergoing some management issues, meaning that the children did not have all they needed to eat, wash and clothe everyday. We saw this need and felt that at this time and as a one off, we should organise and deliver a care package. So Abu and I spent $200 and gathered from others items of use and literlly filled the back of my Landrover with goodies. Toothbrushes, soap, rice, school books, fruit, eggs, tea, balls, and some clothes to name a few. The faces of the kids and the couple running it were overwhelmed with joy. The Lord knows how to provide and how to sustain. I have been a little involved in advising and helping to give accountability with this particular orphanage. There is a Pastor in town who is now overseeing and planning what is to happen next. Please pray for this situation as it is never easy to know who to trust and believe. It is for the care of these orphans that we acted in this way at this time of desperate need, but I can not be someone that all people with any need can fall on for support.
There's also another orphanage that we are involved in (the one that Michael is at), that have been discussing with us some of their ideas and plans for the future. It has been great to be involved in this dreaming process and we seek God to show us the way forward for these children's lives.

The wet ones....
Despite the height of rainy season normally being in August, this year the season has drifted on way beyond this. This last month of Sept has really been very wet. The rain pours down hard, not like the drizzle in UK, but a heavy power-shower worth of wetness. Just walking 10 metres in this absolutely soaks you. So doing home visits can lead to many a wet day. Unfortunately this also causes floods, as the roads are so bad, and the drainage poor and the houses often built on the edges of mountains, so the rain just runs on through. Sadly the floods even caused a few children to be drowned in their own homes. We need the rain for the fields to flourish, but please pray for these people who live in haphazard corrugated huts, with little protection from the cold. Often children get sick, both from the cold and the sanitation, and as you should know by now, the medical facilities to take them to as scarce.

The frustrating ones.....
Last month I was telling you about the problems I was having with the police and some documentation for my car. Well I decided to be defeated on this one. It was causing me too much stress and wasting too much time. I decided to get what I was being given despite it not being true, and being cheated out of 3 months registration both last year and this. Sometimes choosing your battles is a better way to live here.
Another source of frustration is my carpenter, who I have happily worked with over the last year. He is skilled and listens well to my specific and unusual requests. However this month something seems to have disgruntled him. He has wanted to put prices up, which I don't mind due to the inflation of most things here. But what he was asking for was totally unreasonable. And whatever I agree to now, will set the precedent for all other jobs I give him. So again much time was spent discussing and disagreeing. Him telling me all the usual of family to feed, school fees to pay, rent gone up, life is hard, which all are true, but is it totally my responsibility to provide for all that? I want to pay fairly, of course I do. But this equipment is for the disabled people of his own country, so why should he be cheating me so badly?
Another is Amara (in picture with his Grani – happy having just received a new mattress to sleep on to hopefully reduce pressure sores), who for a more ful picture of the situation I have written in depth on my blog so have a read there. But in short was very sick and in a bad way, the family had sat waiting for me to arrive because of course I can solve everything – not. They didn't have the thought or the money to take him to a doctor. So I sent him to one, who did nothing, but sent him another one, who did nothing, but tell him he needs to be admitted to the government hospital where it would be very expensive to get maybe the right treatment. All this time Amara was suffering and in pain, but nobody seemed to notice. So I arranged for him to be seen at an NGO hospital, but being a public holiday for the Muslims, the family did not want to take him. A lot of persuading later, they did eventually go, where he was diagnosed with TB Spine. Now he needs to undergo further treatment daily, the logistics of which is a nightmare – especially when you're legs are paralysed and you're not even able to sit upright on your own.

So all in all, I still find myself asking WHY? Why does nothing seem to change? Why do some families not care about their children? Why is it so hard to see a Doctor and get proper medical treatment? Why do I feel so helpless? Why is it the more I do the less they do? Why do people rely on me to fix all problems? Why are my efforts never enough no matter how hard I try?

God knows, God sees, and all he asks is that...
“in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship....Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need.” Rom 12:1,11,12,13
Some prayer points for you this month:

“ Continued good health – physically, mentally and spiritually
“ For Amara and his family as they hopefully start the long 6-9 month process of TB treatment
“ For the future of this needed work - new therapists? New linking to other organisations?
“ Knowing how much to get involved in the advocacy for orphaned and disabled children which I have found just happening naturally this month.
“ For better working relations with our carpenter Allusan, as well on going patience in teaching Abu (with the children), and Fatmata (with the Fistula ladies).
“ For the communities and families we work in to be challenged and blessed by witnessing our work.

Thank you for all your support, in all things

With Love,