The end of Oct. brought in a group of 4 doctors and one pastor volunteering with the Paul Carlson Partnership. This was a great group of guys who stayed for about 8 days in Karawa. The main objective for the group was to help train doctors and nurses in the Helping Babies Breathe program. I have to tell you that I had a blast working with them. This was the first time that I had translated a lot. I have translated off and on for the last year when groups or visitors have been here, but this was the first time I had really been “on call” for translating all day, every day. I have to say it was thoroughly exhausting, but it was very fun, too!!
This was a very good week for the CEUM health system. The Paul Carlson Partnership (PCP), has been working very hard to come up with sustainable solutions to help improve the health care system here in Congo. This is very difficult due to many factors—which I won’t go into here. I ask that you pray for this group and the difficult time they have had in fundraising. If you are interested in learning more about them, there is a link to their page here on my blog. Please check it out!
The group came prepared to do the training and also came with supplies to give to the CEUM medical system. These supplies will help create kits to give to hospitals and health centers. In order to receive these kits, the personnel from the hospitals and health centers have to receive training to use the equipment/supplies properly. The supplies are geared to making a kit to perform the tasks in the Helping Babies Breathe program. The kit includes: a stethoscope, a bulb syringe, a 60 second timer, 2 blankets, pediatric ambu bag, scissors, string, exam gloves, and a hat for the baby. These kits will also be supplemented with a kit that includes a mannequin to do further training. There were 12 people who arrived at the Karawa hospital. There were 3 doctors and 9 nurses who received the training. The first group of 6 were trained by Dr. Eric Gunnoe. He is a Pediatric Intensive specialist who lives in Maine. I translated for him while we trained the six medical personnel. This was a different type of training for them. Usually here in Congo training and most education is done by one person giving information. The people receiving the information write furiously in notebooks. Most all learning is done by rote memorization. This training included giving information, however we didn’t allow them to take notes. The class had to participate in everything. There were 3 mannequins and we would give them information and then have them practice on the mannequins using scenarios, i.e. baby is born, not breathing, meconium is present–What do you do?? The participants were a little hesitant at first, but then they really got into it. It was fun to see them learn the material and put it into practice.
The really fun part was watching the first group of six participants, who finished the training after about 7 hours of total training, get up and train the next 6 participants. In reality, it was only one of the participants that did most of the training for the second group, but the others did help with monitoring, supervising, and giving examinations. At the end of the week we had 12 people trained in the Helping Babies Breathe program. These 12 received certificates and have been given a mandate to go out and train others in the CEUM health system in this program. The objective is to reduce infant mortality. The statistic we learned in the program is that 90% of babies are born without a breathing problem. The last 10% have issues and need stimulation or assistance in beginning to breathe on their own. Here in Congo, equipment and training is lacking in saving that 10%. We are hoping with this training that infant mortality can improve. The biggest challenge is to spread the training.
I have a story to give you an idea of how important this training is here. About 2 days after the group received their training, one of the doctors from Wasolo, was still here and assisted in a C-section. The baby emerged and had difficulty breathing. This doctor, Dr. Eddy, used the training he learned and saved the baby’s life!! The very next week the Karawa hospital trained all of their Maternity nurses in this life-saving technique, as well. I have learned that all of Wasolo’s nurses have been trained, too. They are waiting to receive their mannequin to do the practical training and examinations for these nurses to complete their training.
Any of you who are reading in the medical field, I encourage you to go to the Paul Carlson Partnership website and look up the Medical Ambassadors group. This is how the group of docs came out to Congo. Through this group PCP is focusing their energy on finding volunteers who are willing to come out to Congo to help in the type of training/education described above. If you would like to know more about it, please visit the website and check it out. If you have any questions regarding volunteering for a short trip or even volunteering to live in Karawa/Congo for 1-3 years, please contact me or Covenant World Mission. We are currently looking for people to come out to work with the Congolese in the medical system. This includes, doctors, nurses, dentists, PAs, NPs, Physical Therapists, etc., etc. After I leave in Mar. 2013, we don’t have anybody who is signed up to come. If you have any interest at all in doing something like that, please visit the Paul Carlson website, visit the covchurch website (www.covchurch.org) to look for mission opportunities or you can even write me an email!! (firstname.lastname@example.org) Thanks so much!! Kimia
I blinked and November is almost over!!……..Oh, wait! I wrote that in Nov., and never finished my thoughts! So much is going on and happening around here. I’ll try to fill you in on the last couple of months.
One of my last posts I talked about a trip to Loko to do some nutrition education and talk to them about starting a Moringa project there. Through generous donors we have a fully funded project and we were able to give some start up money to get the people at Loko started with giving Moringa powder to some children. They currently don’t have a large source so we have encouraged them to keep their numbers low. We are going to be working closely with this group in the coming months to give them seeds so they can start growing a Moringa garden of their own. They tried planting a few Moringa “sticks”—you can cut branches off of a full grown Moringa tree and plant it. It then eventually grows into
another tree!! Have I told you how amazing this plant is? Unfortunately, their cuttings didn’t grow. The site they chose was invaded by termites and all of the cuttings, except one, died. They do have one tree, grown from seed, growing near the Maternity ward. Pray for them as they look for an ideal site that is not invaded with termites. We will begin planting in March when the rains start up again.
Oct. was a busy month. We finished classes at Bogon Health Center (about 3 km from the Karawa hospital). We gave out 14 certificates. We even did a lesson on how to make
scrambled eggs. They were thrilled with the lesson. These people have now become trainers for Nutrition education. We also began an extension for the Moringa project there, too. This group of workers, completely volunteer, have worked so hard in the last couple of months. They are so excited to share the information with the surrounding community. They are also very excited about the Moringa project. They have worked hard to gather a group of about 80 children in their surrounding area around the health center and have started to give out Moringa powder to these children. The biggest thing they lack right now is a scale to weigh the children. They have a hanging baby scale, however they need an adult scale to weigh the older children. I have been so impressed and happy with their work and enthusiasm for
this project. Please continue to pray for them as they are in the beginning stages of this important project. They have grasped the importance of nutrition and have even begun teaching a class to 16 other “students” in their community. That class began on Dec. 21.
Oct. also saw the nutrition staff travel to Boyabadua–about 7 km from the Karawa hospital. This was an opportunity we were asked to attend to give a nutrition lesson to a group of women. That was super fun and they were so receptive and even sang and danced with us!!
We also hosted John & Letha Kerl–Africa & Europe Missionary Coordinators, Byron Amundsen–head finance guy at headquarters and also head security guy, and Keith Gustafson–other long-term missionary on our team who resides in the US, for about a week. They were here to spend time with us missionaries to check up on us, to do some strategic planning, talk about security issues, and to visit our ministries. I’m going to talk about the end of Oct., but I will do a separate blog post for that!! Kimia
So, I blinked and it’s almost the end of the year!! So much has happened and it’s hard to know where to begin. I’ll try to get another blog post up before the end of the year to update you, but for now this is just to let you know what’s going on right now.
As the title says: I’m looking ahead. However, as I just told a friend of mine, with that comes mixed emotions. I am trying, as hard as it is, to imagine what my life is going to be like in a few short months. I leave here at the end of March to return to the States after being gone since Oct. 2010. I went home for about 10 days at the end of 2010, but other than that, I haven’t been on that side of the world for a while. I think about what I may go back to and frankly, it kind of freaks me out. A part of me wants to stay right here, in the middle of Africa. However, there is a part of me that longs to see my family and friends. I have also been craving pizza and ice cream in a bad way the last 2 weeks!!
Anyway, I’m thinking about the future. What does that hold, you may ask? Great question, and one that I don’t have all the answers to. But, I am praying a lot about different options. I’m looking at maybe doing a Masters of Public Health program. I’m also seriously considering signing on for long term service here in Congo. Again, enter “mixed emotions”, here.
With all that said, I have been looking back on my time here in Congo and there are moments that I feel I have been here much longer than 2 years. This place has impacted me in more ways than I imagined. I knew it was going to be difficult, but I didn’t know the complexity of the roller coaster of emotions that I would be sent on. God has shown His amazing power in amazing ways, and continues to show his power and love to me all the time. I thank you, once again, for joining me in this journey. ~~ Kimia
On a personal note, I have realized in the last week that I really need to have what I call, “savor moments”. The past couple of weeks have been tough on me. There have been some particularly difficult cases come in to the hospital and there is absolutely nothing we can do for them. It’s hard to see pain and suffering and know there is nothing physically that can be done. For me, that is really a tough one. I have training that is supposed to help. There have been many moments when I internally raise my hands to God and ask for mercy and wisdom. For example:
1) When I stand in front of the HIV + patient that has horrible metastatic breast cancer. I sat at her bedside yesterday and did the thing I felt God leading me to do: I read scripture, a devotional, and prayed with her.
2) When I stand and talk with the guy who has been in the Karawa hospital now for 6 months with an open fracture. They have now done surgery, but they are talking about amputating his leg because there is a raging infection that antibiotics can’t seem to touch.
3) When I stand in front of parents of a 13 year old boy who weighs 12 kg. This one bothered me a lot. I kept thinking about him all day yesterday and figured out he weighs less than 3 sacks of sugar we can buy here in the market. LESS THAN!!! I ask God, “Why?”. I pray for his little fragile body.
4) As I stand in front of the teenager who got bit by a snake and now has half of the skin on her lower leg eaten away by the toxin the snake produces. A feeling of utter helplessness is sometimes ever present in those situations.
So, this is why I have tried to find moments to savor. Otherwise, I think the negativity, despair, and suffering would become too overpowering for me. Yesterday, as I returned to my apartment, I passed by a franzi-panzi tree, or Plumeria. That is one of my favorite scents and the sweet perfume invaded my thoughts as I passed by. I became calmer and more thankful for the time I was able to spend with the nursing students yesterday morning. Today, I enjoyed a piece of white chocolate with roasted coconut! I also enjoyed a long overdue haircut by my fellow teammate, Debbie Williams. Awwww….I haven’t had that since Feb.!! You just have to find moments to savor, to step back and gain a different perspective. What are the ways in which you “savor the moment” to regain peace?
Thanks for praying. Kimia
A lot has happened in the last month. We traveled to Loko to spend a week back in Sept. They have a mission hospital there. Currently they don’t have an on-site physician. I did two mornings of rounds with the Director of Nursing(DN) and some of the nursing staff. Both mornings ended up taking 3-3 1/2 hours each. It was quite frustrating for me. Again, my expectations needed to change and I told the DN that. I had come to Loko to do some training about Moringa and to do some basic nutrition education with the staff. We ended up doing a great introduction about Moringa with about 23 nurses and healtcare staff and then we did 3 days of basic nutrition education with the DN, head of nutrition and one other hospital worker. They are hungry for information and education. We ended up finding 3 Moringa trees about 2 km from the hospital grounds. They planted 4 trees within the hospital grounds, however pigs dug up and destroyed 3 of them. One tree is flourishing and doing well beside the Maternity ward. It was quite the scene after the lesson on Moringa to see all of the participants rush to the front of the classroom to grab pieces of branches of Moringa we had gathered before the class. I had wished I had taken a video of it. They are anxious to begin a program there. We have funded a start-up for their own project with the money we have received for the Moringa project. I am also excited to see their enthusiasm to share the education we have given them.
We just finished general nutrition education and Moringa training at Bogon II. They are a health center about 3 km from Karawa hospital. They have Moringa trees growing in their area so they are also super excited about starting their own leaf powder distribution. We gave them an exam last week and we will be giving out certificates tomorrow, Friday, Oct. 12, to those who passed the exam. I am hoping to return to help them get going with their own Moringa leaf powder production. We have planted 8 more Moringa seedlings behind the health center and they are very proud of those little power plants!!
Mama Mbulutia and I traveled to a church about 7 km from Karawa last week to do an introduction to Nutrition with a large group of women. It was a great time! We did an hour of education and finished our time with a song and dance! They all had a good laugh at the mondele (white person) dancing!! We have been invited to do more of those types of classes and I’m looking forward to finding the time to do that. I would like to get this information to as many people as possible.
The Nutrition staff also went to the church at Bokpasi last Sunday and we handed out the certificates to the participants of the first class of general nutrition education. We finished there a couple of months ago, but we just found the time to hand out the certificates in front of the congregation. This is an important ceremony for them and gives them credibility in front of the community. Please pray for them as they continue to reach out to their community and teach the principles of general nutrition.
The Nutrition department at the Karawa hospital has also been busy. We have been making porridge for several patients at the hospital in the last week. We received one child in the Pediatrics ward who is 13 years old and weighs 12 kg(26 lb)!! I’m trying to come up with a protocol of how we handle children like this who have severe malnutrition. There isn’t a written protocol right now, and it is very needed, so if anyone has any advice, I’m up for it!! I’m trying to do research on the internet to find as much information as I can, but I’m not having much luck.
Thanks for reading. More to come…..Kimia!!
Please continue to pray for the vehicle fund project for Congo. Right now, we have quite a ways to go to raise the money. We are needing just over $22, 000 more. We have about 43% of the funds needed to purchase the vehicle. We, as a team, are trying to individually raise about $5-6,000 per family. If you would prayerfully consider giving toward this project we would greatly appreciate it.
Above is the old mission truck we have here at Karawa. We currently have 5 missionaries stationed at Karawa right now and another vehicle is needed for our work. This older vehicle is not completely reliable and has had several things repaired on it in the last year. We are needing a more reliable and sturdy vehicle. We are planning to purchase a Toyota hilux. Below are some examples of road conditions we face here in Congo daily.
Please designate funds as the following
Make checks payable to the Evangelical Covenant Church with –5002-2266-78-30 Congo Mission – Vehicle Fund — in the memo line of the check. Please send to the home office in Chicago: Covenant World Mission, 8303 W. Higgins Rd, Chicago, IL 60631.
Click here for the online giving site. There is a drop down menu on the site. Please choose the Congo Mission Vehicle Fund to have your funds designated for this project. It is the last choice on the menu.
Thank you for your prayerful consideration! Kimia!
It’s been a busy time in the last 6 months. I wanted to give you a little glimpse and overview…and maybe get some of you all caught up!!
Feb.—Tom Lawson & Clay Schwab came to help repair bridges near Karawa; I also participated in a CHE(Community Health Evangelism) training in Gemena w/ Pete and Cindy Ekstrand.
Mar.—Dave & Debbie Williams moved to Karawa; Bob Thornbloom, Scott Christensen, Donn & Sally Engebretson visit; Peninsula Covenant Church visit; I visited Paul Carlson’s grave for the first time; World Vision partnership announced; Installation of new CEUM President and Vice President; Nutrition classes begin at Bokpasi Hlth Center; I participated in International Women’s Day parade in Karawa
Apr.—Children really began to impact my heart; planning began for beginning Moringa project in Maternity ward; visit from PCP volunteers; we visited Bwamanda pharmacy; container of rolled bandages arrived from the US; Christine Buettgen arrived in Gemena
May–Planting of peanuts and beans in the Nutrition garden; visit from World Hope Canada; Visited Tandala mission hospital with SECU missionaries; two trunks of mid-wife kits arrive
June–Curt Peterson, Jon & Nathalie Ireland visit; two trunks of used eyeglasses arrive; Nutrition classes begin in Maternity/Prenatal care unit; Tamba built his new house; Solar lights/power installed in Peds, Lab, OR, and Maternity at Karawa hospital; We say goodbye to SECU missionaries; I visited Mama Suza and her new moringa plants; Christine moves in; Bokpasi Health Center takes the Nutrition/Moringa exam to receive certificates for finishing the class; I took a 8 day break at the end of the month
July– Visit from Tom Christy (from my home church); Student in Nutrition; blood bank begins in lab; Ready-to-Use-Therapeutic-Food made and used for the first time in Nutrition dept; 9 Nutrition certificates given at Bokpasi Health Center; Nutrition classes begin at Bogon Health Center; repairs begin on Nutrition Center at Karawa hospital.
Aug.—Gave over 760 Moringa seeds mostly to hospital personnel; 75th CEUM Anniversary; 16 visitors from the US and one visitor from Canada arrive to celebrate the Anniversary. Visited Leprosy patients with Dr. Kongawi and visitors from the States with the American Leprosy Mission; handed out pillow case dresses to orphans at Karawa; sick with a stomach bug during the Anniversary along with 3 other visitors from the States. Two students in the Nutrition department. Over 50 women at the Maternity ward Nutrition lesson!!; Heal Africa arrived in late August to do gynecology cases, i.e. fistula repairs, cystocele and rectocele repair…very interesting cases.
Thanks for reading! Kimia!