- Written by Kimberly Pepmiller Kimberly Pepmiller
- Created: 20 October 2014 20 October 2014
Mission trips require participants to be adaptable and ready for adventure. Today's adventure occurred early in the day. Mid-shower the water just turned off. That was the end of running water at the guest house and hospital here on the compound for the day. I was feeling pretty left out as I was the only one who did not get a real shower, but then I realized that the hospital not having water was a much larger problem!
Can you imagine a hospital in the U.S. going without water? That would be an internal disaster! It's just amazing how these people just persevere and are so resourceful. They filled buckets of water for us to use, and even heated some of them for showers. Tonight they finally figured out that a water main ruptured here on the grounds, and Dr. Harison fixed the problem himself! No plumber needed around here.
The day improved when breakfast was served. The timing for breakfast has to be just so in order to receive fresh pastries and bread from a local bakery, and they are delicious! We headed to a town called Antsoantany to host our first medical clinic for the week. The drive allowed us to see the town Antsirabe a bit better, as it was dark when we arrived yesterday. The streets are full of pous-pous, which is a form of transportation that can either be a pull cart or a bike pull cart. There are also tons of bicycles. It's just amazing to watch all the forms of transportation share the road. We definitely don't use our horn enough in the U.S.!
We arrived at the Lutheran church in Antsoantany to a hillside of people waiting for us and the clinic, and they greeted us with a singing prayer. So amazing! The clinic was hosted inside the Lutheran church, so we used the pews to set up “rooms” for the clinic. Patients began by entering the intake area where a Malagasy person wrote down the demographic information for the patients. The patients then moved on to the vital station where they had blood pressures, pulses, and temperatures recorded. From here the patient went to triage where an interpreter worked with a nurse to discover the primary reason the person was visiting the clinic. Seeing a provider and being diagnosed came next. We had two Malagasy doctors and one nurse practitioner from the U.S. These providers were quite efficient! Then the patients stopped by the pharmacy to get prescriptions filled. Each patient receives a prescription, even if it is just multivitamins.
Jo spent the day working as a triage nurse. She really enjoyed interacting with the Malagasy people. She had an interpreter working with her who translated the Malagasy language into English. Some people speak French, but for the most part Malagasy is the language we are hearing in the clinic.
The leaders here asked us not to hold the children or to hug the people so that we do not contract lice or fleas. This is a challenge because the children are so adorable!
I spent the day filling prescriptions in the pharmacy. This is a busy job that kept me occupied all day. As a group, we brought many over-the-counter medications with us to Madagascar, but the majority of the prescription medications were purchased here in the country.
The Malagasy people were so patient today! They filled the church, and yet they were quiet enough that we could all still hear the person across the table from us talking. The people waited all day outside to be seen, and I am pretty certain that some of them did not eat or drink all day while waiting. I continue to struggle with the fact that we break for lunch while the Malagasy people continue to wait. It just seems rude, but the leaders insist upon it.
Apparently the schools here have a two-hour lunch break, from 12:00–2:00 PM, when the children go home to eat. Can you imagine that in the U.S.? The guest house staff packed us a lunch of cold sandwiches and cookies. The Americans ate separate from the Malagasy workers, who ate a traditional lunch. I think they're concerned that we will not like or tolerate their food. After a short lunch break we were all back to work. By late afternoon we had successfully seen 381 people and filled 861 prescriptions! We learned that it is the pastors at the Lutheran churches who advertise the clinics and register the patients to attend. It is neat to have the clinics partnered with the Lutheran church.
This evening we went into town to shop a bit. We found some nice silk scarves and a tourist shop. It will be fun to continue to explore the shops in the evenings. The guest house staff prepared another delicious dinner of noodles, green beans, chicken, and rice. Dessert was decadent with ice cream and mangoes. The Malagasy diet seems to be quite starch based.
We are all dragging tonight, so we are headed to bed early. The sun sets here around 6:00 PM and the sun rises around 5:00 AM, so we will be up to the sun and roosters in the morning!
“Hesed” is a Hebrew word that means “kindness”, “mercy”, “loyalty”, “loving-kindness” or “steadfastness.” It’s the way God intends us to live together—a “love your neighbor as yourself”, active, selfless, sacrificial, caring-for-one-another brand of living contradictory to our fallen natures. The “Heseders” are continually looking to work together to share some small measure of God’s extraordinary love. Won’t you join us?