Friday, June 22, 2012

Niger report 3

(Anita McCormick--Lutherhaven's Office Manager--and her husband, Cal, are working in Danja, Niger, West Africa, on the edge of the Sahara Desert all summer, where it's a ba-zillion degrees.)

June 21

Dear All,

Cal's crew continues to work hard on a couple of projects. They have completed the foundation for the house and have brought in fill material with wheel borrows and carts. The dump truck broke down, so some teenage boys from a nearby school were rounded up to do the project by hand. It took them a day and a half and it was ridiculously hot! The interior walls were formed up and the rough plumbing is nearly complete. Plans are to pour the house slab next week.

Cal and his digger and cement men are also working on a sidewalk at the Fistula Hospital. It runs from the hospital to the kitchen where patient food is prepared. This is an outside kitchen where women prepare traditional African food for the patients that will now be able to be transported via a cart on the new sidewalk.

My primary role is "wife of the contractor," which is actually the best. I make sure Cal keeps hydrated, eats (which is much more involved than you may think: making sure you use purified water, bleaching fruits & veggies, sifting flour, making goats milk yogurt, checking to make sure the eggs are good, figuring out packaging written in French ... you get the picture!) I continually ask him to be careful in the sun and do laundry. I have the sweatiest husband ever!

I work with the ladies who have applied to be employed on the cleaning crew, and did we ever bust it out! Ashley the Operating Room nurse and I each had a translator and some women to clean every inch of the hospital. Nothing like you would think: imagine strong winds and sand storms blowing through inadequate windows. Someone said, "Sand is like the wind, it goes wherever it wants". So true! The women were amazing with their little hand brooms! They worked together in a line to sweep and then poured water out on the floor, again sweeping as a team to wash it and brush the sand and water outside. It really turned out spotless. They did a great job! 

When the medical team arrives from the States I will be cooking lunch and dinner for them daily. Ladies will be arriving and staying in the village (mud brick lodging where they can stay while they wait for an exam) at the end of next week. 

Cal and I toured the Leprosy Hospital last week. I had been kind of putting it off because I knew that it would be hard, and it was. The hospital was established 58 years ago to provide treatment for the leper patients. Now they also provide services for other ailments. Treatment for the leper patients is provided at no charge while services for everyone else is very costly for them. For a diabetic patient it is estimated that treatment for their lifetime would represent 1/3 of their income. The average income is $1 per day and the cost of treatment isn't an option for many/most. They see many diabetic patients for open sores, amputations etc. The conditions are unbelievable, yet even with horrible sores and everything else, nearly every patient tries to sit up and greet you.

They see many patients in the late stages of ailments when it is far past options for cure. A recent patient came in with near-death stages of throat cancer. In other countries they are taken to a room and told in private that nothing can be done for him. Here the man was told in a ward with many other people within earshot, all quietly consoling him as the Doctor talked to him. The doctor said he couldn't heal his condition but went on to tell him and the others about Jesus. The man said he understood and the reason he came here was because he knew they would care. Who are the people in our life that we need to remember to care about?

On a lighter note, I got locked in the bathroom in the kitchen, and it took five people and a couple hours to get me out. Good news: I'm sure I probably dropped five pounds of sweat while I was in there. We have pigeons that like to land on our tin roof and play "I'll slide down and claw my way back to the top half the night." Our electricity goes off regularly, challenging for everything electric.

The other day we went to dinner at another family's house here at the compound. Jason is a teacher at the nearby Bible school and Lenge is a nurse at the Fistula hospital who mostly teaches prevention. Simon is eleven and Isaac nearly seven. Just as we arrived the boys had some friends show up on their donkeys for some boy time. The boys had a small burner that they used to build a fire and make tea. They did it their certain way, brewing it, mixing with milk and sugar and serving it to everyone in small cups. All the while they were playing on a drum and singing. Loved it!

Hope all is well with you. We love to hear from you, (we are a very long way from home!) We love you all.

Cal and Anita

P.S. Tuesday at the bus station I saw an honest to goodness, real life Arabian knight, complete with authentic dress and sword! I couldn't take a picture. (I'm not exaggerating ... I think the sword was five feet long!)

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