Ambulance Driver

Sometimes when the hospital drivers are busy or away or sick, I have been asked to drive the ambulance. I love driving, but this adds new challenges, as it is difficult not to jolt a patient while driving in thick sand!

Graduation of nursing students

The photo shows 11 of the 12 new nurses, recently graduated from the Evangelical church of Chad Nursing School in Bebalem, along with one of the tutors (on the left). It was exciting seeing their hard work being rewarded as all 3 research groups received a commendation of ‘very good’ from the jury examining them.
Please pray for each of these students, as they start work in many different settings around Chad.

Visiting Health Centres in rural Chad

I had the great privilege of visiting some health centres in extremely rural locations. The roads were challenging, although I got to see some nice tarmac and a really nice bridge, but there was also deep sand, deep water, a treacherous mixture of the two and bridges only as wide as my vehicle!
In each health centre, I got to see many patients (between 15 and 40 each day). The visits are an encouragement to the staff, who are normally isolated. I was travelling with the health centres chaplain, who meets with the staff and the local church staff, encouraging them in their work. The staff deal with the challenges of lack of medicines, lack of laboratory tests, lack of medicines and isolation from support.
The language of communication varies depending on the health centre and we saw people of many different tribes. Some of the cases I saw were complex, some simply needed referred to a hospital (sometimes very far away) and some patients were just struggling to respond to treatment.
Please pray for these nurses and health centre staff in their task of providing good quality health care in such a challenging setting. While we get in the vehicle to go back to the hospital at the end of the day, they stay on, working in places that many people could not even live!

Learning in Kenya

Kijabe hospital
I have been given a wonderful opportunity for 2 months of further training in Obstetrics (delivering babies) in a big church-owned hospital in Kenya (Kijabe hospital). In Bebalem hospital, Chad, we have to cover every speciality in any patient that comes in the door of the hospital, although it is nurses that do all of the operations. Having received a bit of training in Obstetrics in Scotland, there were still large gaps and things that I can better learn in another African hospital. I arrived at the start of February and will be staying until nearly the end of March 2013.

It is a great privilege to go along on the teaching ward round 6 mornings a week and to be able to ask the consultants and senior doctors for advice and participate in discussions of difficult cases. The enthusiasm for evidence-based medicine and the supportive environment of the ward rounds are fantastic opportunities for me to learn. There are also teaching sessions every day at lunch and some mornings, so I’m learning a lot.

Culture Shock
It is not only a privilege to learn things at the hospital, but to experience the difference of life here. The amazing variety of fruit and vegetables, the coldness, altitude and differences in culture are all challenging and I’m learning a lot. I’m also perhaps able to reflect more on what I’m learning in Chad.

Trying to switch from using French and Ngambai to using English and Swahili has really given me a challenge and left my head in a linguistic mess!

Other opportunities
I had the opportunity to go to a missionary conference in Feburary, which challenged us all to ‘abide’ in Jesus. It was great catching up with people that I haven’t seen in years.

I got a day off last Saturday and got to climb a large volcano called Longonot. I saw some Giraffe and Zebra. It was good to be able to rest for a day and leave the hospital, even to do something so touristy!

The break from responsibility is a welcome relief. I am sleeping a little more peacefully here. Please pray that I will settle back in to the work in Bebalem quickly when I return.

Prayer and Praise
Praise God for this opportunity. Pray that I will be able to choose the things that we can easily apply in Chad that will increase our care for pregnant ladies. Please pray that I will spend the remaining month learning useful things. Thank you for your prayers. I have great internet access while in Kenya, so do contact me while I am here as I’d love to hear your news while it is possible for me to do so!

Rice fields and a rest

Having just worked non-stop for the 14 days since I got back from conference, it was nice to have a rest last weekend and get out to see the rice fields.

It is nice having time to simply spend with people. I also did some baking, some reading and some housework. It is strange just how similar a day could sound to a day in Scotland, but when I add that I had no running water or electricity, had to struggle along paths deep in sand and was eating off a communal platter with people and even sharing the same cup, somehow it seems a world away from Scotland. Having said that, it is the same moon that lights our sandy paths with cow-drawn carts here, as the moon which lights the tarmac and cars back in Scotland.

Work at the hospital is extremely busy for this time of year. There are around 45 children in the Paediatrics ward and still often 2 children to a bed in the High-care area. We have had some interesting cases and we have some interesting conversations with some of the patients and their carers.

Each patient has one or two people (or sometimes the whole family) arrive at the hospital to care for them, preparing their meals, paying for their medicines and going to the well for water for them to wash and drink. At night they all sleep on mats, sometimes beside the beds and sometimes outside the ward. With it being so busy, it is also very crowded.

Please pray for strength, for wisdom and that I’ll know when to study, when to spend time in the hospital, when to rest and when to be out socialising. Socialising gets me into interesting conversations with people, but I need to learn to study and sleep sometimes as well!

PS This was originally written on 1st November, but trying to share a photo with you all via the internet takes a lot more reception than we’ve had lately. So I will go out for a wander in the garden again, with my laptop held high in the hope that the reception is somewhat faster than the last few days!

Sitting on a mat

Here in Bebalem, some of the most important, refreshing, energising and fun moments are had by sitting with friends on mats under trees.
The photo is of me and my adopted Granny, Rebekah, enjoying some time together. I spend a lot of time with Granny Rebekah, who suffers with arthritis in her knees, so can’t move far and is always at home, happy to have visitors. When I’m finding work hard, or the culture or community challenging, she chats to me, feeds me, encourages me and prays for me. She chatters away in Ngambai, the local language, so it keeps me on my toes, as she understands no French!

I have had no outgoing e-mail for weeks, as the reception has not been strong enough, so please be patient with me if you have sent me an e-mail and I have not answered.
Sometimes ‘snail mail’ is faster here than waiting for the reception to be strong enough to send or receive an e-mail.

Meningitis, malnutrition and ‘muru’ moments.

‘Muru’ (pronounced moo-roo) is the Ngambai word for the local staple food, which is made with the flour of sorghum, rice or millet. I love eating it and feel thoroughly spoilt when nurses invite me to eat with them in the middle of the hectic days. We sit together and eat from a central plate with our right hands, taking a piece of ‘muru’ and dipping it in the sauce. Sharing together in God’s provision for us.

I hate meningitis. The statistics for meningitis speak of a third of people dying, a third recovering and a third being left with long-term consequences. The statistics are more harrowing when you see the families and patients affected.

I hate malnutrition. Some of the children come in so malnourished that they can’t fight against the acute infection that has brought them in to hospital. There is a fantastic feeding program run by the local Catholic sisters. So it is great to see the children who do recover from their acute infection, enrolled with people who can help.

In the middle of the stresses of dealing with meningitis and malnutrition, I am always thankful for the ‘muru’ moments.

L’orientation au Kenya

Salutation de la cours d’orientation a Machakos, Kenya.

Les cours sont intensifs, mais la nourriture et les divertissements avec les autres nouveaux missionnaires sont magnifiques.  Nous venons de plusieurs payes, qui incluaient le Brésil, l’Allemagne, le Canada, l’Australie et les Etats-Unis.  Nous allons aux plusieurs payes en Afrique.

J’étais à l’école de Rokocho, Kenya

J’ai fini mon voyage en Kenya.  C’était 10 jours qui sont très occupé avec beaucoup des cours de motivation que j’ai enseigné dans les écoles locales.  J’ai rendu visite à plusieurs amis, que je me suis encouragé beaucoup.

Malheureusement, âpres avoir passé 10 jours là-bas, je suis tombé malade.  Mais je suis rentrée à Nairobi, comme j’ai préparé à l’avance.  J’ai reçu l’aide de mes amis Ecossais et j’ai changé les médicaments.  Maintenant je me sens bien. 

Nous sommes à Machakos pour 3 semaines.  Priez pour ma santé, mes forces et ma concentration de toute la formation que nous faisons – plusieurs matières sont très difficiles.

Orientation in Kenya

Greetings from Africa Based Orientation in Machakos, Kenya.

The classes are intense, but the food and banter with all the other new missionaries are good.  We come from countries all around the world, including Brazil, Germany, Canada, Australia and the USA.

We are also going to many countries around Africa.

Me in Rokocho school, Kerio valley

I had a safe trip ‘up-country’ in the Kerio valley in Kenya for 10 days.  It was an extremely busy time, as I was expected to speak motivational lessons in many of the local schools.  I also had the opportunity to visit many friends, which was a great encouragement.

Unfortunately towards the end of the 10 days, I wasn’t so well, though managed to make the trip back to Nairobi as planned.  I had great support from some Scottish friends and managed to get onto the right medication to get treated and am now feeling a lot better.

We are in Machakos for 3 weeks.  Please pray for my health, my energy levels and my understanding of all of the training that we are being given – some of the topics are very challenging.

Packing and paperwork!

Me on the summit of Lochnagar

I have less than 2 weeks left in Scotland and life is a whirlwind of packing, paperwork and Goodbyes.  I find it especially hard to say Goodbye to the elderly and children.  I have taken lots of photos along the way, which I am hoping to print out and put up in Chad.  It has been encouraging to meet with many folk who faithfully pray for me.

The timetable of farewell services and mountains has come to an end.

Below is an idea of what the next few months will look like.  As God’s timing often looks different from mine, the reality may well be quite different – watch this space!

3rd July – late evening flight to London

4th July – Fly to Kenya

6th to 16th July – Visit Cheptebo, Kenya, where I lived from 1999-2000.

19th July to 9th August – Africa-based orientation.  There are around 25 of us from all over the world going to many different countries in Africa.  We receive teaching on culture, health, safety, language learning and many more topics.  It is quite an intensive 3 weeks.

10th August – Fly to Chad.  I will spend the first while (as long as it takes) getting a visa, work permit and driving licence sorted in the capital.  I will then go south to Bebalem, where I will have a home-stay with a Chadian family before I start work at the hospital.  The home-stay is also an opportunity to start learning the local language, as well as customs and culture.

I am looking forward to finishing the paperwork and packing and actually getting there!  I would value your prayers for my French, my Goodbyes and for the orientation – that I’ll be able to take in the information so that I can use it when it will be needed.

I will be able to update this blog in Chad, so do keep an eye on it for updates.

Thank you for your prayers.  God’s timing is perfect.

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