• The Gift of Missionaries

    Date: 2012.11.14 | Category: Health, Life, Travel, Work | Tags:

    As I’ve shared before, working in journalism I’m constantly running across stories and people who amaze me and open my eyes.

    In the works for a while now, we’ve been planning a story about a married couple who served as medical missionaries in Cameroon, Africa. In the states, he works at our local state hospital as an OB/GYN and his wife is a retired nurse. Through a Catholic-based medical missionary organization, the two of them spent three months literally living in a hospital in one of the poorest and most desolate area of Cameroon, primarily doing obstetric work. Assisted by a group of Franciscan nuns and other Catholic missionary doctors, they made do with three tables made out of boards with a shallow bowls in the center for delivering babies.

    Kelly conducted a lengthy interview with them and is writing the story for our publication, but I had the chance to talk to them for a while too and look at the photos they took.

    In the 30 minutes I spoke to them, I quickly became deeply grateful for the medical and obstetrical care I receive here.

    In Cameroon, you have to pay state hospitals up front or you’re turned away from medical care, even if you’re in active labor. Catholic mission hospitals will accept anyone, but the line to get into the clinic at 6:00 a.m. is already extremely long in the blazing heat. Women walk for days in labor to get to the hospital, and then line the hallways during their active labor, periodically being checked by the sisters and quickly ushered into one of the three wooden board tables when it’s time for delivery.

    The doctor told me about a woman who was eclamptic with extremely high blood pressure during her labor and she kept having seizures all day long. Without the medicine there to stop them, the doctors had to come up with their own cocktail to get them to stop. And they did. Both mom and baby were fine in the end.

    He showed me pictures of where they scrub up for surgery – rusty old sinks with a bar of soap, gloves that they wash and reuse, operating “rooms” made out of wall partitions. He spoke about the amazing work the sisters there do every day.

    And, of course, HIV is rampant there. Mothers and babies all suffer from it, and the medicine the government is supposed to supply is nonexistent.

    Their story makes me so thankful for people who are willing to put their own wants aside, and step in and help those who are most in need, especially these Franciscan sisters and the doctor and nurse team who so willingly spend their vacation time helping others and enthusiastically plan to do so again.

    I’ll post a link to the final story after it’s published.

    If you’re interested, you can learn more about the Mission Doctors Association by visiting this website: http://missiondoctors.org/