Making A Difference

Healthcare is always something that is up for debate, especially here in Alberta. We are a wealthy province in a wealthy country. We are the have’s. We are the 1%, despite what many people would like to think otherwise. We all have the great privilege of living in this amazing country, one that provides so much for us.

We are ungrateful. We are ignorant.

Nadine and I knew a lot of the numbers before we left for our trip to Burundi this past August. We learned that it is one thing to read the statistics, and it is another to experience them first hand.

On our visits to various hospitals around the country, and to a few different clinics, we got to experience how the majority of people that live on this planet receive healthcare.

During a visit to a smaller, recently opened hospital, we encountered a young man who had fallen ~ 9 ft. onto his head in a workplace accident. He was unconscious, unresponsive to any stimuli, but spontaneously breathing with a strong pulse, maintaining adequate perfusion. No muscle tone, sluggish pupils, and the mechanism of injury suggested some sort of brain injury.

In an emergency department that was the size of a parking stall, this man was being treated by 7 different physicians, all with various levels of training, most still in school, and with very little trauma experience.

Should we stabilize the patient’s spine? The hospital, which is really a small clinic, doesn’t have the proper supplies or training. The patient most likely would not be able to afford the cost of x-ray. Is there any internal bleeding? A CT scan, which is a short drive away in the capital city, would be too costly for the patient. Even if there was a subdural hematoma discovered, there is no surgical team or neurologist available to treat him.

The questions are many, but the options are few. Difficult for me personally to grasp, given I work in an Emergency Facility here where patients have access to everything they need, at no cost or penalty to them.

And we complain.

I don’t know what became of that patient. We helped to assess the patient, stabilize the airway, and then the doctors caring for him were left with the only choice, to wait. Wait to see if he would wake up, or wait to see if his heart would stop beating. Maybe they would consider administering mannitol, despite the fact they have no tangible way to monitor intracranial pressure other than looking for the signs and symptoms (widening pulse pressure, bradycardia, respiratory difficulties).

In Burundi, there are approximately 4 doctors per 100,000 people. In Alberta, there are over 200 physicians, half of which are specialists, per 100,000.

There is a gap that we are responsible to help fill. By “we,” I don’t mean just Nadine and I. I mean every “have” person that lives in this country. We can all be participants in helping those less fortunate than ourselves.

There should be time taken to recognize our blessings, and time taken to mourn the misfortune of others. Now is the time to do something about it.

Youth For Christ Burundi is looking for partners to achieve their goal of opening up the Shammah Medical Clinic sometime soon in 2013.

This clinic, located in the heart of the country in a town called Gitega, is built right next to an orphanage where 38 kids call home. There are hundreds and hundreds of Burundians in the immediate area that have no easy access to healthcare, and thousands more in the surrounding farms and communities. These are infants, kids, mothers and fathers who have no access to medical services.

At present, the clinic is an empty building. Designed by an American engineering firm, it was built a few years ago after the funding was raised by YFC Burundi. The clinic has a smart, useful layout, and includes assessment rooms, treatment rooms, a waiting area, triage, a lab room, dirty utility, etc. We were incredibly excited to see the building first hand on our visit to Burundi, and pictures do not do it justice.

But it is empty still. There are a few beds and supplies that were donated, a few desks that were scrounged together. YFC Burundi has been waiting and praying a long time for assistance to help get the clinic doors open, but they do not have the expertise, funding or the staff necessary to begin.

You can help impact potentially thousands of lives by supporting this project through a partnership with YFC Edmonton. The clinic will be pivotal in the years ahead to treat malaria, tuberculosis, help to curb AIDS in the region, and help to stop malnutrition. Yes, there are going to be patients that we won’t have the resources or expertise to help, but there will be so many more that can be treated and saved.

We are looking for your help to raise funds for equipment, medication, and supplies so that we can open our doors sooner rather than later. We are also hoping to raise enough money to purchase solar panels and batteries for the clinic, giving sustainable energy that will be used to power lab equipment, diagnostic machines, examination lights, etc. Electricity is something that is hard to find and rely on in Burundi.

I could tell you that Nadine and I need your help. But it’s not true. We don’t need help from anyone. We are blessed beyond measure, and we could go to Burundi right now and be just fine.

I am telling you that THEY need your help. The men and women and children of Burundi, all 10.3 million of them. Burundi has the highest levels of hunger and malnutrition in the world. 38% of children under the age of five are malnourished. 1 out of every 4 infants die. Of those that survive, 1 out of 5 will die before the age of five years.

For more information about the clinic, and to check out Youth For Christ Burundi’s website, please click HERE.

To participate with us, please follow this blog, and get your friends, colleagues and family to follow as well. Help to advocate for Burundi and its people through this effort. Tweet about this blog, post it on your Facebook. Download our prayer letter, locatedHERE and put it up at your work site, church, or your home.

Donations can be made through the link on our website’s main page. Youth For Christ Edmonton is collecting donations for the clinic and for our support. Tax receipts are given.

We are pleased to let you know that every penny donated goes to use in Burundi. If you would like to specifically mark your donation for use for the clinic you can indicate so at that time. If you would like to help support Nadine and I in our efforts to move to Burundi, we thank you as well.

Partner with us as we seek to bring equality, love, and humane care to every precious Burundian life we encounter.

We are SO excited to share with you pictures that we took of the Shammah Medical Clinic during our visit this past August, 2012. We also have several images taken from the various medical facilities we were able to tour. Take a look below!

– Josh –

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