Dearest Loved Ones,
Finally I have a moment to write when it is not 11p.m. and I’m too exhausted to stay awake another moment. It has been very full to say the least, I haven’t even read what Christopher has written to all of you. My experience here so far has been beautiful and educational and magical. Sara, Miranda, Pam, and I jumped right into working at the hospital. Babies are born no matter what our plans are. Pam’s first C-section with Dr. Monique ended with a dead baby, no one even tried to rescusitate. I think Dr. Hancock could have saved it, if she had been there. Sara, Miranda, and I went directly to Labor and Delivery which is one room with 3 beds side by side and a screen between them. The laboring mothers are sitting out in the hallway and sort themselves according to how much pain or who’s water just broke ect. If someone comes in further along, they will move a woman out of the labor bed and put the next one in. The first woman I examined thought she was having a miscarriage of a 9 week pregnancy. She was actually about 14 weeks pregnant and I would have given anything to have a doptone to listen for the heartbeat. I offered to do an ultrasound, since we have the equipment, but the doctor either didn’t understand or didn’t want me to do it. The language barrier is TERRIBLE!! They speak Kinyarwanda as a first language, French as a second, and English 3rd. Adie, Miranda, Dr. Hancock, are lifesavers. My limited French is being used very creatively. The next woman came in with her water broken and crawling on the floor to get into the room. We got her on the table and the doctor examined her (no sterile gloves). She had a large baby and after a couple to pushes the doctor decided she needed a C-section. The 3rd and 4th women weren ‘t quite as far along, so we went in on the C-section. We did have scrubs, mask, hat, rubber boots, and a butcher’s apron to wear. IT was about 90 degrees in there, with the windows open. The woman did get a spinal, (no epidurals or pain meds in the labor unit). When the baby was born, they placed it on a metal table on a sheet, no one attended the baby right away, it wasn’t breathing, no bulb syringes to clean out their noses, so Sara used the suction from the vacuum for blood and stimulated the baby, he finally started to breathe and the nurse came and took him to the labor room to be checked. There really isn’t anywhere for the baby to be. Miranda said they left it on the scale table for a very long time, waiting for the mother to come out from surgery. She wanted to hold the baby, but was unsure if she would upset the staff if she did so. The next woman was pushing when we got back and Dr. Pam was there. She listened to heart tones with our fetascope and said the baby was in distress, the nurse wouldn’t let Dr. Pam check the woman’s cervix for about 10 minutes. When Dr. Pam did check, the woman wasn’t even fully dilated. That’s when Dr. Pam erupted and said we needed to leave immediately. She was very worried this baby would die also and she wanted to leave. The doctors seem happy we’re there. I’m not sure the nurses are . I think they usually deliver the babies, because there are only 1 or 2 doctors. One doctor seems to be doing C-sections all the time. At least that was the first day’s experience. We’ll see what happens when we go back. I definitely think I will get to deliver my first baby, hopefully Sara or Pam will be there! And Miss Miranda is getting quite an education. She has fallen in love with the children at the hospital. She has taken their pictures, goes back to the hotel and prints them, then brings them back for the children. THEY love her and follow her around. We also got interviewed by the National T.V. with all the medical bags and a big fanfare in the parking lot with the hospital administration. So far the Mazunga’s (white people) are quite a phenomenon here with 19 of us in a big group. Wherever we go everyone is pointing and shouting. There are definitely 2 classes in Kigali, the rich and the poor, doesn’t seem to be much middle class yet. And in the country side, it is exactly like we have all pictured it with lush green forestation everywhere and mud houses, tin roofs, outhouses that you squat in (I experienced it first hand). In Kigali, there are parts of it like any other metropolitan city, beautiful fountains, gardens, tall new buildings etc. Right down the street are small little one rooms shops that sell everything and further down the hill, it’s back to the mud buildings and dirt floors. You see people in business suits walking next to barefoot, starving children. It is a city of extreme contrasts. The people here are very beautiful and the babies are to die for, they are so gorgeous on their mama’s back tied with their little feet sticking out the sides of the shawls. I had a beautiful traditional dress made for Dr. Joseph’s bridal bargaining ceremony(which Christopher will tell you about). Some of us went on a short shopping stint in the art/soeuveir part of town. Adie again, was a life saver, with her French and bargaining ability. She got the prices down significantly from the original Mazunga price which is about 4-5 times higher then the locals pay. So before I go to sleep, let me just say, thank you to each and everyone who has helped support this dream. I am cherishing every difficult and beautiful moment. I have touched the earth and found a second home. I came out of a traditional outhouse yesterday in all my wedding finery and was so thankful to my parents for teaching me how to squat and pee anywhere, when I looked down and on the red clay earth was a beautiful crystal quartz rock shining in the sunlight (the only one on the path) and I knew my parents were with me in Africa finally after 45 years of waiting. I will be back to this country of a thousand hills as soon as I am able, to continue my God given work, learn from these extraordinary people, have my children learn to be grateful, and feel the spirit of these beautiful people fill my soul.
P.S. To W.H. lots of fun gossip to tell when I return, it’s a half a world away and some things and PEOPLE never change, especially under stress!
MAMS and NANNY, thank you for all your support and help, especially the suitcase/backpack has saved my life!
Mom, I couldn’t be here without you caring for our boys, I know they are in good hands, but it is so hard to be so far away from them, especially with a country with SOOO many children everywhere! Give them 100 million kisses and hugs and fairy dust all around their heads for good dreams til I come home!!
LOVE YOU ALL SO VERY MUCH, Le
(From the Mazunga with petite bazungas)