Happy belated Easter Everyone!
This last week was amazing. Busy, challenging, and heart-breaking all at once. It’s hard to describe! I want to share with you a few of the cases that we had at the health center, things that have really impacted us out here.
For a while now, we have been treating a young man, a small shop owner, who was robbed a couple of weeks ago. During the attack, he was horrifically cut by a machete across his back. The wound was so deep that it cut into his muscle. He was treated at a local hospital, and the 15 inch gash was sutured closed. As we’re finding to be the norm, the care he received was not good enough; the wound opened up again (the stitching actually ripped apart as well) and became infected. It is now slowly healing under our regular care at Shammah. You would never know when meeting this kind young man, that underneath his shirt he is bearing this awful wound, and that he experienced such a terrible and scary situation. He comes in to visit us every day with a big smile on his face and such a gentle spirit.
We received a 4 year old boy into our care, neglected, severely malnourished, with scabies, rotting teeth and wounds all over his toes. Because of his rotting teeth and poor nutrition, he presented with a grapefruit-sized abscess on his cheek. We had to hold this poor boy while we worked to drain the abscess to provide him with pain relief. In Canada, he would never have been awake for such a procedure. It was heart-breaking for us. We sent him away with antibiotics, and a referral to the local hospital, where he could receive free care. It was all we could do as the mother refused to cooperate with us, refused to answer our questions, and refused to discuss options for the boy’s care. We wondered why she even brought him to us in the first place, perhaps hoping we would take him away from her. Because of the neglect and lack of nutrition, he will not be able to heal or recovery properly from his wounds and disease. This little boy will likely pass away from related issues in the near future. It is so difficult to send someone away knowing they may not survive, being unable to intervene any further. We left him vulnerable in the hands of a family who cannot take proper care for him. The family did not pay for his care, but we were glad to have the opportunity to care for this beautiful child. We are hoping to have our malnutrition program up and running by this Fall, so we can combat and eliminate malnutrition and make a lasting impact in this community.
Lastly, as we were winding our day down, a panicked young mama, out of breath and covered in sweat, burst into our staff area and thrust her 6 month old baby, grey-skinned and limp, into our arms. Her name was Deborah, and she was choking! She was her mother’s firstborn, and she didn’t know not to feed an orange slice, full of seeds, to her baby. Hannah and I worked together to try and remove the seed from her airway. I did back-blows and chest thrusts on this little girl for about 10 minutes. It felt so strange to be hitting a tiny baby so hard while not hearing any cries. Shorty after, she went completely unresponsive and stopped breathing completely. We started CPR. Our staff gathered around the room and prayed continuously. Hannah delivered breaths while I gave compressions. We continued, and I saw the orange seed and removed it from her airway. CPR continued, and we all just prayed for life to return to this little baby. Finally, Deborah’s eyes opened, her mouth gaped, and her chest began to rise and fall as she gasped with life again! Seeing the life enter back into her again was the most incredible thing I’ve ever witnessed and had the privilege to be a part of. She left just a few hours later, completely normal! God is so good. Our staff were amazed at what had happened, and one of them turned to me and said “The Lord is surely in this place.” I guess our name, Shammah (meaning ‘the Lord is present’), was appropriately given!
As we reflect on Easter, and the experiences we’ve dealt with over the past month, we know we have a God who has set us free. Free from struggle, pain, sickness, poverty, and neglect. We have a beautiful life awaiting us in eternity. I am so thankful that I have been given this gift, that you have been given it, and that our patients have been given it as well. A life of freedom.
So how incredible is it, that little Deborah came back to life during Easter week! It was such a special reminder to me of Jesus’ own resurrection. The proof that was given to us, that our sinners’ debt had been paid in full.
I hope you all had a wonderful Easter this past weekend, celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! As we look back on the challenges and joys we’ve faced, we know that the gift of salvation is what keeps us moving forward, towards the next set of challenges, the next set of joys.
What an incredible gift! He is risen, indeed! What a thing to celebrate!
Love to you all,