Nov 5 - Woke up this morning, and PRAISE GOD, Amy and Matt were feeling much better. Thanks to all of you for your prayers for them!
However, we got very sad news before we left town. One of the male students at the Kibbuse school came to Bob and Brenda to tell them he'd just found out that his father had died. He needed to go home for the burial so they paid for public transportation to get him home. It's weird, because there just really wasn't a huge deal made out of it...it's a common thing. People die here a lot. It was only the beginning of what was going to be a difficult day.
Today we traveled to a town called Hoima, which is one of the larger towns in the country and is about 3 hours away from Niyamarwa. When we arrived we met a good friend of Lonnie's and Bob's named Thad Cox, who is an American who's been very involved in the development of this area. A woman who works with Thad also met us as well as a little baby named Grace. Grace was absolutely ADORABLE...(pictures soon to come). Apparently, Baby Grace was found left for dead in a grassy area and when they found her, she was basically just skin and bones. Now she is a healthy baby with big ol' chubby cheeks. She fell asleep in my arms at lunch...wonderful.
After lunch, we were taken to the Hoima Hospital. We were given a tour of the campus and some of the buildings. I was not prepared for what I was going to see.
First of all, this was what is considered a "second tier" hospital, which means that there is only one hospital in all of Uganda that is of better quality. But when I went in to these buildings, I was just overwhelmed.
We first went in to the building where they house those who have accidents, so we saw burn victims and we saw people who had broken bones, etc. One particular girl's story just broke my heart: First of all, every child at the hospital has to have two (outside) caretakers with them or they are not able to be treated and given the care they need. Well this little girl (probably around 7 or 8 years old) had been badly burned on her leg and had some sort of procedure done. Apparently there had been some disputes among family members regarding the accident, and both of her parents ended up leaving her there alone. With no caretakers present, this girl was unable to get the proper care and she ended up developing staph infection in her leg. Now they may have to amputate her entire leg. At the very least, she is going to lose a couple of her toes. It was heartbreaking. There were many other people lying around with huge bandages wrapped around their feet or their arms and you could see blood seeping through the bandages. And we heard other stories...stories that you just don't hear in the U.S.
We also went into the children's ward where we were literally walking through a sea of people and crying children. We were told that most of the cases there were malaria. It was unbelievable just looking around at the babies laying all over the cement floor sweating, crying, and writhing in pain and wondering how many of them would survive the illness. In children under the age of five, malaria can be especially deadly. I had to bite my lip hard as we left that building...I was on the verge of losing it in front of a lot of people.
The last building we went to was the gynecological ward. Amy and I were actually taken into a "labor room" where a woman was having labor pains...quite a thing to see, to say the least. I was pretty anxious to get out of that room. As we passed by a bed with a newborn laying on it, i couldn't help but look at that little baby and just be saddened by the difficulties that were ahead for it living in this environment. And I could just imagine that there is a little newborn baby laying somewhere in the states, and neither of these babies had any say as to where they were born or where they would grow up. But one will be living in comfort and ease while the other will be living in hardship. But really...as Matt Chandler says, we are all "cut from the same cloth" aren't we? Or to quote another..."we're one but we're not the same...".
One of the major struggles with the hospital there is that they are understaffed and don't have near enough room. That is why all the patients must have caretakers with them...they just don't have the staff to take care of all of them. There were also so many patients that they didn't have enough beds and there were many who had to bring something from home to lay on the floor in between beds. Every building was terribly over-crowded and since there is not near enough room for the caretakers and visitors inside the buildings, you had people just lining the outside perimeters of all of the buildings.
What was really hard was also hearing about how many people would come to the hospital, get treated, but then because they don't have clean water or sanitary conditions in their homes, they will go home and either get worse, or might even die.
It has probably been on of the most eye-opening, heart-wrenching days of the trip thus far.
After the visit to the hospital, we went back to the hotel, laid low for a bit, and then had dinner with a guy named Godfrey, who is a friend of Lonnie's and Bob's. I feel like everyone I meet now becomes "one of my favorites", but Godfrey truly is one of the most genuinely kind, on-fire-for-God people we have met. He was a breath of fresh air after a difficult day.