Things have been changing at Mbingo. Some changes have been good and some have been sad. As many of you know, JR and Lindsay Young are great friends of ours and came to Cameroon with us two years ago. Just over a week ago, they moved back to the USA after finishing their 2 year commitment through Samaritan's Purse. They made a big impact to the pediatrics care here and we already miss them.
This is JR and Lindsay with their daughter Cathen. The hospital gave them these new outfits and they wore them on their last day of work. They are characteristic of the traditional dress clothes of the NW region of Cameroon. They are quite intricate and difficult to make. After they wore them, they were told - "now you look African".
Last month we told you about Denis Nkenji, a 7 year old boy with a congenital heart lesion. We felt led to help pay for his needed heart surgery to be done at the Catholic hospital (Shisong) here in Cameroon. Many of you have helped by donating money towards this. We wish you all could have been with us when Denis and his mother returned to clinic this week. When we told her that we would have enough money to help her pay for the surgery, she started crying. Denis did not really understand why his mom was crying and he started crying too. Truly they were tears of joy. He goes back to Shisong Hospital in March and the surgery will be scheduled for April. The picture above shows the avocados, nuts, beans, and garri (ground and dried cassava) that Denis' mother brought for us as a gift. We ate some of it last night, but wanted to share a picture of it with you all as well. Denis and his mother say a heartfelt "thank you".
Recently we had Ron Johannsen (cardiologist) and Lou Kohl (cardiology fellow) here at Mbingo. During their time here, they rounded on a ward, taught cardiology to the residents, taught Chuck some echocardiography, and did rheumatic heart disease screening at the local primary school. This picture shows Ron looking at an echo of a 8 year old boy with Henry (Cameroonian echo tech) and Lou looking on. Chuck went to the school with them and learned quite a bit about doing cardiac echos. Rheumatic heart disease is a big problem in Africa and causes a significant amount of valvular heart disease in young people. Children first get a strep infection and have an immune response that in a minority of patients causes some damage to their mitral or aortic valves. The goal of the screening is to identify those children who have early valve lesions and put them on penicillin prophylaxis to decrease their chance of having further injury to their heart valves. Ron is trying to figure out the best, fastest, and cheapest way to implement this and was currently testing a 1-2 minute screening exam in the school. The reported rate of rheumatic heart disease that can be seen on echo in children in Africa is ~3% and they found about that number at the school. Those children were subsequently referred to Mbingo for a full cardiac echo.
Another change recently was the training of "Baby Care Providers". Angela, JR, and Lindsay taught a total of 12 nurses and midwives over the past few months to take care of newborn babies. They are now trained to do newborn exams and provide quality nursing care to both sick newborns and premature babies. The picture shows Angela giving a certificate to one of the graduates in chapel.
The wards here are changing too. The hospital fully renovated two of our medical wards recently. This picture shows the empty men's ward (holds 28 beds). They used the time just after Christmas when our volume was a little lower to empty the ward, paint the walls, replace the ceiling, redo the electrical wiring and lighting, and paint and repair beds and other ward furniture. It takes about 5 days to do each ward and they move fast because we have to cram patients in other wards during this time.
This shows the bed and furniture being painted on the lawn between the wards. The men's and women's wards are now bright, clean, and much nicer for the patients and the staff.
Each January there is a missionary conference in Bamenda for all of the missionaries that work with the Cameroonian Baptist Convention. This picture shows the whole group. It was just a few days, but it was a nice break and a chance to spend time with people who are busy showing God's love and sharing the gospel across Cameroon.
This shows Isaac and Cathen's alphabet work of art. Over about a month, they made letters each day and put them on the wall outside. They were proud of their craft project and know their letters quite well now as a result.
We have been hearing about all of the cold weather in the US and wanted to show what Ben has been doing this month in Cameroon. The boys have been enjoying the inflatable pools in the backyard since our weather has been warm and sunny.
Isaac has been missing Cathen and was sad when she left. But as many of you know, it will only be a short time apart. JR, Lindsay, and Cathen moved to Charlotte, NC. When we were in the US last summer, we were both able to get jobs in Charlotte. Chuck will be teaching in the internal medicine residency program as a hospitalist at Carolinas Medical Center. Angela will be a pediatric hospitalist at Presbyterian Hospital. God clearly had His hand on us getting these jobs and we will even be able to come back to Mbingo for 2 months each year! We will be moving to Charlotte at the beginning of May and Isaac and Cathen will be reunited.