I wrote this on Tuesday evening:
To say my heart is saddened today would be a complete understatement. As I sit here trying to write this blog, I can’t seem to find the appropriate words to describe all the emotions I have inside of me. I’m angry. I’m sad. I’m heartbroken. I’m disgusted. I’m angry. I’m angry. I’m angry…
When I was a child I spent quite a bit of time in the hospital and in the emergency room. I remember being very sick and I remember all of my injuries. I remember being in pain, but what I remember most is, my mother. I remember her always being by my side, lying right next to me while holding me in her arms every chance she could. Even as an adult my mom still wraps her arms around me to comfort me when I’m not feeling well. To this day, one of the greatest things is my moms hugs and the feel of my moms hands as she holds mine or scratches my back to comfort me. I also remember being in a clean environment while being given great care.I can’t remember anything negative about all my experiences from being sick or injured.
This evening I went to the pediatric hospital, Ignace Deen to visit with the sick children. Before I went I was warned that this place would be very difficult to see. I have seen a lot of awful things during all of my travels over the years so I assumed it wouldn’t actually be that bad. I was wrong…
I walk in the door to see very sick and dying children, lying in very filthy beds. I see kids lying in beds by themselves while their parents are on the other side of the room laughing and having a great time with other parents. I don’t see any parent holding their babies to love and comfort them. I do understand that this is a culture difference, however, it’s still so very hard for me to grasp. I see roaches crawling on the walls and later as I was lying with a beautiful, very sick little baby boy, I had roaches crawling on me and the sweet baby. All of the walls and floors are covered in so much filth(I’m not even sure what it is). Nurses are more concerned with the free stuff we have to give, rather than tending to their patients. A child is receiving a blood transfusion and there is no one or nothing monitoring him. No blood pressure cuff, no oxygen, no cardiac monitor, nothing… It was a very sad thing to see. Lots of the patients are being treated for Malaria, yet not one bed had a mosquito net to keep the children from getting bitten again. Some of the beds didn’t even have sheets so the kids are lying on very dirty and torn up mattresses and the kids that do have sheets to lay on, are filthy. Unfortunately, I can’t say one positive thing about this place.
Today is Saturday and I have much better news to share! 🙂
As I was sitting on the couch back on the ship after visiting the hospital, I was quite depressed. I saw the huge need and my heart was broken, and I felt completely helpless. I had no idea how to fix the problem or where to begin to attempt to fix the problem. Kevin and I were talking and I was sharing with him how I was feeling. This is how our conversation went:
Me: Kevin, that was heartbreaking… I’m sitting with these little kids and babies who are so sick they can’t even move and there are roaches all over the place. The hospital is so disgusting it’s so hard to imagine these kids will ever get better. All I could do was lay in the filth and roaches with them and hold them and rock them. It was literally the saddest thing I’ve ever seen. It’s just not right that this is the life people are forced to live. The prison I went to two weeks ago was nicer than this pediatric hospital.
Kevin: What do you plan on doing?
Me: I don’t know
Kevin: Well, what can you do?
Me: I don’t know. I can hold them and love them all day long, but that will never make them better and it will never be the solution. Although I physically see these things going on, I just can’t comprehend it.
Kevin: I see. Why don’t you start a side project that slowly helps to improve the hospital?
Me: Where do I start?
Kevin: I’d say with basic hygiene first, trying to find a way to get rid of the bugs. Then start coordinating for basic building supplies, find people on the boat with construction experience. Then get local national volunteers to help with the labor.
Me: I have 6 weeks left to be here in Guinea and the last couple of weeks the captain doesn’t let us off the ship. You really think I could even begin to make a difference in that little of time?
I shared this conversation so I could make a long story short. Thankfully, Kevin is much better than me at putting emotions aside and quickly finding a solution. Because of that and because he believes in me, I was able to put my emotions aside and also see that there is a solution. So my long story short is this; I have met with various people (doctors, project managers, off ship program director, nurses, and willing people to help do anything needed) the past 4 days and a team is now in place to do whatever we can to improve this hospital in the few weeks we have left to be here in Guinea. Unfortunately, we can’t fix every problem they have, but we can clean, get rid of the bugs, provide mosquito nets, provide new mattresses and spend some time doing education with the nurses and the parents. This may not sound like much to you, but if you could see this place you would see that these are huge improvements. There is still a lot of planning and process to follow in order to make this happen, but everything is falling into place so perfectly so I have no doubt that all will work out 🙂 Also, after making a few phone calls back home, I have full financial support in this endeavor!! 🙂
Hopefully, I will be sharing all the amazing stories to come from this in the next few weeks. 🙂 I am so thankful for this opportunity and I’m so thankful for Kevin’s support and encouragement because without that I would probably still be depressed by what I saw and not knowing what to do to help.
I can’t wait to see all the Lord does through this in the next few weeks!
I’m not allowed to take pictures at the hospital so I’m just going to include some random pictures I have from my life here in Guinea.