So, what does a first day look like?
A little bit like this:
Meet Teddy, the first patient ever treated at the Shammah Health Center. He’s 3 1/2 years old.
He had a bug in his ear. Literally, we flushed a dead ant out of his ear. He was a trooper!
He also had worms in his belly, and we took care of those too.
So one day I’ll sit down and write the book “How to Open a Health Center in Rural Burundi in 492,000 Simple Steps.” Or does that sound more like a screenplay to you? For now this post will have to do.
Nadine and I felt like throwing up we were so nervous this morning. Could you imagine? We had no idea what this day would look like…. would we get 3 patients? Would we get 300?
Turns out we got 17, and it was amazing.
In a bit of a funny turn, we had over 50 people show up for our first education session on malaria, but then we found out that everyone showed up expecting free healthcare. That would be just amazing, but that doesn’t jive with the word “sustainable,” so off they went. Hopefully everyone that attended the session was a little more educated than they were yesterday. Out of the 50 people, none of the attendees, nor any of their family members had mosquito nets. Hopefully we can get our net distribution program off and running soon!
Turns out though, there’s a good number of people looking for quality healthcare at an affordable price, so we were kept busy for rest of the day!
We treated several cases of malaria, one severe case in a young little girl, I did an incision and drainage procedure, we treated others for intestinal infections, etc.
It’s hard to describe the feeling we had throughout the day. An uncontrollable joy, just the thrill of having patients walking through our doors. Hearing babies cry, hearing people talking. The Shammah Health Center is ALIVE, people! Glory and thanks be to God!
This day belongs to each and every one of you, for all of the support, kindness and love you’ve shown us. It also belongs to all of the incredible and amazing Burundi Youth for Christ staff that have worked alongside us, who have been working long before we ever got here, and will continue to work long after we leave. Our center also have the best staff ever! A team full of life, who treat our patients with respect and dignity.
We had three patients who could only afford to pay a portion of their bills, each one a situation where treatment was desperately needed. So, we agreed to provide the care in the hope that the patients will eventually return to pay their debt. We’ll see how that goes as time moves on.
It was incredible to see the systems, planning and training we’ve been working so hard on the past year pay off. We had great patient flow, the pharmacy my incredible wife organized worked like a charm, and we didn’t have a single hiccup the entire day.
I just need to say that I love my wife. She worked so hard, and what I view as a ridiculous obsession with organization and tidiness in our home, is exactly what I love about her work in the center. So much of what worked today was a result of her diligence, planning and thoughtfulness.
So, what does day two look like? Who knows!!!!! The one thing that comforts me so much in a time like this, is the fact that God knows. I’ve been wondering about, and praying for the first patient we’d ever treat at the health center for over three years now, since February 2011. Turns out it was little Teddy, but God has known that forever. He knows who we’ll see tomorrow, and the day after that as well. He’s planned it all for the ultimate good. He’s opened these doors, and He made Day One a story of success and encouragement.
He saved lives today. Pretty cool stuff.
We can’t wait to hear from you. Please share this special day with your friends and family for us. If you’re interested in supporting us, I’m still fundraising for the 2nd Tour du Burundi, my 650km bike ride around the country, this May. Money from this year’s tour will go to expanding our laboratory, and purchasing desperately needed solar equipment.
Enjoy the pictures!