Thursday, April 18, 2013

Bongani Hospital

Last night, I had my first real experience with the government hospital in Weklom. Understaffed, unclean, young children unattended . . . it's a very depressing place. My new little friend, Atlehang, had a checkup at the clinic yesterday morning.  Her day began at 7:30AM and ended around 10PM when they finally admitted her to the hospital.

Mama Selina took Atlehang to the clinic in the morning. They waited for several hours to be seen, which is typical of the government funded care here. That doctor decided they must be taken to the hospital, so Lois picked them up around 11AM. By 6PM, they were still waiting.  Lois asked me to go and keep them company until Atlehang was admitted.  I held her skinny, feverish body on my lap in a tiny, crowded room for another two hours before we were finally seen by the doctor.  Dr. Roeux, a young woman, spent at least 15 minutes rifling through Atlehang's messy file of papers before taking a personal cell phone call (right in front of us) for another 10 minutes.  I was SO frustrated! This tiny, sick little girl is lying on a table surrounded by strangers who are talking ABOUT her, but never TO her, and the doctor is giggling into the phone, paying no attention to us at all.

At 9PM, Atlehang had more blood drawn, gave a urine sample, and was taken for lung x-rays. Then, we went back to the tiny, crowded room to wait more. At 10PM, the nurse came with a wheelchair to take Atlehang to a hospital bed. I carried her over to the wheelchair and asked her if she could sit down. Her bony arms and legs clung to me tightly while she whimpered, "No, Abby, No." Tears stung my eyes as I pried her off & set her in the wheelchair. 

We walked with them to the children's ward. I can't express the sight of so many forgotten kids suffering alone. I was trying to stay strong for Atlehang, but my heart was breaking. The bed they put her in is like a jail cell with metal bars all around. I saw the hope go out of her sad eyes. I wanted to scoop her up and run out of that place! But all I could do was kiss her warm cheek, tell her I would be back soon to visit, and walk away.

I think this has been my first REAL South African experience. Let me tell you, it was not pleasant. This morning I read a familiar verse. Philippians 4:19 "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus."  Do I believe that for Atlehang?  Do I really trust God to meet ALL her needs? Or do I think I could do a better job?  This experience has been a reality and heart check. Please pray for Atlehang to get well and come home soon. Pray that I will trust the Lord COMPLETELY. For my needs, and the needs of others.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Reading to Tumelo and Atlehang

I'm Here!

I arrived in South Africa on Tuesday, April 9 at 10AM.  I spent the several hours at a hotel connected to the airport until Brian & Lois could pick me up at 5PM. We arrived at Restoring Hope Village around 9PM.  Thankfully, I've been sleeping well since I arrived! 

Wednesday was pretty low-key. I spent the morning playing with a few of the kids who aren't in school yet. It's amazing how instantly loving and accepting  kids are. Children immediately want to be hugged and sit on your lap. They melt your heart. In the afternoon, I had orientation with Lois and Louie. They gave me a basic schedule of what my days will look like:

9-10:45AM: Preschool activities with children not yet in school
1-3PM: Schooling with Atlehang
4-5:30PM: Help kids with homework

Monday evening is Bible study with the teenage girls. Wednesday evening is Bible study with all the Village kids. Friday evening is youth group at church. At some point, I'll also be doing a small-group Bible study with the two house mothers.

All is subject to change, of course! :) 

On Monday (before I arrived), the Village got a new little girl. Atlehang is 9 years and 27 pounds. The staff here had been visiting her in the hospital for several weeks. Because she is ill and weak, she won't be going to school for now. I will be working with her every afternoon - reading, writing, math, etc.  Even after being here a few days, she's happier. Her smile is beautiful! I'm excited to get to know her better and see her progress! 

There are three girls here with me: Elise and Emily (here until May 25) and Jessica (here until December-ish).  I'm SO thankful to have fellow believers here; it's a blessing that the bond of Christ can unite otherwise strangers. 

Thanks for your prayers as I settle in.  I'm staying in the team housing for a few more days, then Jess & I will move into the Efficiency Flat until my house is completed.  I'm also hoping that Brian will give me driving lessons soon! :)