Sunday, February 26, 2012

Work and Play

One of the aspects of Mbingo that has excited us the most is the opportunity to teach. Currently, Mbingo is training nurse screeners, nurse practitioners, house officers (physicians their first year out of medical school), and residents (both surgical and medicine/pediatrics). There is a daily morning report, bedside rounds (which we lead), clinic, and afternoon conferences where we have the opportunity to both lecture and learn. There is a so much unfamiliar pathology here in Africa that we often find we are learning as much as we are teaching. 

This is Tumi and John.  Tumi (on the left) is a first year medicine/pediatrics resident and John (on the right) is a nurse practitioner student.  They are working in the women's ward this month and Chuck has been doing teaching rounds with them each day.  Most of the trainees speak English, French, and pidgin English which helps with communicating with our patients that come from all over the country of Cameroon.

Thankfully there are some other wonderful physicians here to help guide us. These are Keith and Kay Streetfield. He is an anesthesiologist and she is a general practice physician from Australia. They have been here for the past 5 months, but have a lot of experience working in missions hospitals around the world. They have already been a great resource and we look forward to getting to know them better in the coming months. 

This week it began to rain a small amount. The rainy season does not technically begin until March 15th. These are some of the rain troughs around our house that will catch and divert the water. They are about a foot deep, but we have been told that ours are too shallow. We are intrigued and nervous to see how much rain this is going to be. 

Not all of our time is spent working. Here are some photos from this past week showing what we have done in our free time. We went on two different hikes into the mountains around our house. It already is beautiful and we have heard once the rains come that you can see mountains for miles. 

Chuck has been working on his guitar skills. JR has been teaching him some new chords and songs. Isaac refers to it as the "tar" and likes to try to play. He is a big helper these days. 

Please continue to pray for us as we begin a new week in the hospital. Last week was busy and difficult with several patients passing away. Losing a patient is always hard, but especially when language and cultural barriers make it more difficult to share with the families. God has been gracious to us in our first weeks here and we continue to pray for His provision and grace in our lives. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Hansen's Disease and High Chairs

We recently had the chance to visit the leprosy village just down from the hospital grounds.  It is called New Hope Village and close to 20 former leprosy (aka Hansen's Disease) patients live there now.  Even though we can now cure leprosy (can take over a year), some of the patients are not welcome back home due to the stigma of the disease.  The New Hope Village gives them a chance to start a new life and the hospital provides for some of their needs, especially if the disease has left them crippled.

This is the meeting area at the New Hope Village.  When we arrived with the nursing staff, we were greeted with singing and a short devotional from the Bible.  Despite the hardships that the people have been through, they have not lost their trust in God.

Leprosy has left many of them with frequent wounds due to nerve damage in their limbs.  The man in white is dressing a wound of the other man.  They both had leprosy.  The man in white has special shoes made to help him walk.  These were provided by the hospital.

I saw this image in the dresser's office at the village.  Just before we arrived and he started dressing the wounds of the patients, he was taking time to read from his Bible.

We sent some household items from the US to Cameroon by sea crate last July.  There is a crate that comes over every 6 months and we were able to add some items to it like cookware, rugs, sheets, bedspreads, microwave etc.  Unfortunately, only about half of the items arrived.  We split all that we received with JR and Lindsay and at least both families have some things.  Another crate arrives in a few months, so we are hoping the rest of our stuff comes then, but who knows...

One thing that we did not receive on the crate was a high chair/booster seat.  So we have created one out of a cinder block, towel, and the luggage strap from one of our suitcases.  It is working nicely and Isaac approves.

Washing machine update...It is installed and working!  However, it did require that they connect the water supply to the main water line for all the hospital housing.  In the process of this, the pipes started leaking and spraying water everywhere before Mamudu was able to get control of it.  The water was only off for a little while to the other houses.

Angela started work today and Lindsay watched both kids.  It seems that every patient that we see has a serious medical problem and we are constantly challenged to come up with the correct diagnosis and a treatment plan from our available resources.  Just in the past week we have seen patients with the following:  malaria, postpartum cardiomyopathy, HIV, PCP pneumonia, cryptococcal meningitis, severe pulmonary hypertension, TB of the spine, polymyositis, TB meningitis, cretinism (congenital hypothyroidism), tetanus, severe jaundice in a newborn, osteomyelitis, sickle cell disease, and multiple malignancies.  The needs here are great and we feel blessed to a part of the hospital's ministry to the patients.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Life is Different Here...

As if it was not already clear, life is different here at Mbingo than what we are used to.  Here are some examples:

This was the view from our front door a few days ago.  The cows were being guided down our street to feed in the nearby meadow.  The man who herds the cows is a Fulani, which is a nomadic people group throughout West Africa.

Two nights ago, someone lit one of the mountains on fire.  It is the dry season, so the flames were impressive and were still burning when we went to sleep.  Someone told us that this is done each year, so the mountain will be more green when the rains come.  However, the next day we found out that it took many men late into the night to get the fire out before it burned any houses and they are trying to find the man that started it.

This is Chuck and Isaac at one of the markets near where we live.  We kind of stick out in the crowd, but the people here have made us feel at home.

We need to go to the market every 1-2 days for fruits and vegetables.  We are blessed that there is so much fresh produce available here like bananas.

Many people were concerned about our need to hand wash cloth diapers and how much longer we would be doing this.  The washing machine is still not here, but we have been assured that it is on the way.  We had to have the water lines and drainage ditches dug first though.  This man dug a 6 foot ditch in one day with only a shovel.  He then carried all the dirt away.  That was impressive.

Chuck started work this week and has been rounding on 25 patients each morning with the Cameroonian residents before going to clinic.  Most of these patients have serious diagnoses and present to the hospital much later than people would in the US.  We will share more about the hospital in an upcoming post.  God has been faithful to provide all of our needs as we adjust to new surroundings.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Home Sweet Home

We have been at Mbingo for over a week now and we are making things more like home....we have also been learning new skills. We have ordered a washing machine, but it has not come in and the piping has not been finished. This means Angela has had the joy of hand washing clothes, specifically cloth diapers, and drying them on the line.  This is quite a process...

We are also learning new skills in the kitchen. This is Angela making yogurt from powdered milk.  Currently, this is Isaac's favorite food.  With a little of the local honey, it is quite tasty.

We had to stock our empty kitchen so went shopping in Bamenda (the largest nearby city which is 45 minutes away). This is a picture of one of the grocery stores. It was not as fully stocked as what we are used to, but we found most of what we needed.

Our neighbors have a horse that roams freely, which makes Isaac extremely happy. Here he is chasing down Chocolate.

It is the end of the dry season, so the Harmattan (which is dust from the Sahara desert) is in full effect. This means dust on all of the dishes, tables, floors, and clothes despite sweeping daily. This has limited our long range views of some of the mountains and will continue until the rains start next month. It is kind of like seeing fog in the distance.

This Saturday was a national holiday called Youth Day. All of the local schools came together and had a parade of sorts. Each school marched, then they danced and sang. It was fun to get out and see some of the local culture.

Overall it has been a good week. There are definitely ups and downs. Isaac has had some trouble adjusting to the time zone and new foods, but is improving. We have had some trouble getting used to the bugs and spotty electricity at times. However, the people here have been so warm and welcoming that it makes us excited to have come to Mbingo. Chuck starts work tomorrow. Angela will be home for a few more days orienting our cook and getting Isaac further adjusted.  More to come...

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

We Made It

We have arrived!  We are getting settled in to our new home.  It was a long trip, but the people here have been very welcoming.  Isaac did fairly well on the least as good as you can expect for a 16 month old during a 24 hour trip...

When we left last Thursday, the photographer with Samaritan's Purse came to the airport to video us leaving.  Charlotte is the closest to Boone, NC (headquarters of Samaritan's Purse) that anyone in our program has ever left from and they wanted to record the leaving process.  Look for a video or photos on the Samaritan's Purse/World Medical Mission website in the next few months!

We flew through the night and ended up in the Paris airport at 2am our time, 8am Paris time.  Angela and Isaac were catching a nap before getting on the next 7 hour flight.  We then arrived in Douala and slept at the guesthouse before starting the 6 hour drive to Mbingo.  The drive takes you through the lush countryside before ascending into the mountains.  Our house sits right at 5000 feet.

Isaac would like to welcome you all to our new home.  We are living in a duplex with JR and Lindsay Young and their daughter Cathen (the other family we moved to Cameroon with) on the other side.  You can see our front door behind Isaac and some of the mountains in the distance.  Our house is across the street from some of the medical and surgical Cameroonian residents and Isaac has already met and played with some of their children.  We are mostly getting settled this week, unpacking, shopping for needed house supplies, and working to rid our houses of some unwanted guests - roaches and mice.  More on that later, but we are winning.