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.

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