Sunday, June 21, 2020

June 2020

Since last sharing, world events have challenged every country. With this i've been learning the significance of daily work and rhythm; letting our plans for the future remain unknown. i am sure it has been a wild ride for you too, adjusting to restrictions, limited interactions, and new routines. It's hard for all of us, and we know each struggle is real, no one greater than the other: your experience or mine.... But allow us to share about the last 3 months at Kalukembe. Like for you, we've seen and experienced ups and downs. But our God is steadfast, and we know this more deeply than before. 

At the hospital, in spite of travel restrictions and cancellation of the monthly surgical visit (for elective cases), work was busier. It's been months filled with preparing space and staff for COVID-19, managing a surge in malaria cases, navigating interactions with government authorities examining hospital malaria care, and preparing for the exit of staff who have taken jobs in other places. 

For our family, we have learned even more about living and making memories in Kalukembe! We eat more local food, enjoy walks nearby, and celebrated 2 birthdays we thought we'd be celebrating in Brazil with Priscila's parents. Due to local school closures, our neighborhood kids visit us regularly for book exchanges from our small Portuguese literature library. And this past week we welcomed Dr. DamiĆ£o (our new Angolan colleague!) and his family as our neighbors. 

We hope the pictures and captions below to serve as a good flavor of our past 3 months.

One of our electricians, Toni, putting up lighting outside of Pediatrics ward. In May our container from Samaritans Purse arrived, and we've been able to put up more LED lighting around the hospital: improving care and safety. 
Lena, Naomi and Priscila, all wearing the ever-popular bouffant that ladies locally wear. Guess which color Naomi loves!
Nurse Rebecca taking a blood sample from a patient to confirm malaria. We had been without rapid tests most of this season, relying on microscopy and clinical suspicion for diagnosis. Adding to the complexity, most patients arrive having taken unknown medicines, been to other health posts, been treated for unknown durations, and arrive with relatives who know nothing about the patient's story. Talk about working in a fog (ah, the fog of war analogies hold all-too-well here)! These rapid tests, a donation from the government, have been extremely helpful to confirm malaria. 
More happy container arrivals! Solar panels have arrived, part of the process of setting up alternative energy at the hospital. As it is, the main campus generator exploded and the replacement ones are not able to give enough power for some operating room equipment, such as the electrocautery machine. Some day in the future, we hope these panels will be an alternative energy source.
More evidence of the benefits of light! The previous fluorescent light was not turning on with the smaller generators, but with this LED replacement, the path from physical therapy to outhouses and the morgue is well-lit!

Daily routine on pediatrics ward. At peak, we cared for over 100 children a day, over 20 daily admissions due to malaria and over 15 blood transfusions per day. 2-3 children from the same family occupying the same mattress were the norm. So thankful for these mattresses from a US-embassy employee-initiated donation in 2018. They provided flexible care space quickly. This past week was the first week we did not need to use them, one sign that malaria season is now slowing down.

Zeke making sweet guava paste (goiabada) from the guavas he and his friends collected in May. Guavas are Zeke's favorite local fruit. Now in the cold dry season, we are very fondly remembering the rainy season's abundant fruits 
Cold season means Zeke and Eliel get to build many fires to keep us all warm. Here, they are listening to "Wee Sir Gibbie of the Highlands," by George McDonald read by their grandfather.
One of the small groups from IESA health ministry's meeting in Lubango on Friday, June 19. Groups of pastoral and health leaders were formed to work through challenging questions posed by the health ministry's leadership. They then re-convened to propose and discuss solutions. We face many challenges in the health ministry, but are very encouraged by the tone of camaraderie this meeting set.