This past month has been a great time of learning and growing for Shammah Health Center.
We were happy to welcome Abby, a midwife from the UK, who provided excellent teaching to our staff on prenatal care, postnatal care, deliveries, and newborn emergencies. We had practical hands-on experience in our maternity room, using a pineapple as a baby! Whatever works!
We had a dentist visit from Canada, providing much-needed education to our staff regarding dental extractions. A huge need in Burundi and a service that will benefit our community! His wife was a great sport in allowing us to poke around in her mouth for a couple of hours! The teaching was much-needed and Josh has already successfully performed a tooth extraction this week! Add that to the list of things we never thought we’d be doing!
LifeNet International is one of our partners here in Burundi that provide health education to our staff, business training, and pharmaceutical delivery to health centers across Burundi. They came to do a medical evaluation of Shammah Health Center that Josh purposely did not tell our staff about, including myself (good husband-wife communication, right?) so that our staff would perform as they would on a daily basis. A surprise visit for the evaluation, still ranked us as the highest scoring clinic out of all of their 60 partner clinics – 97.5%. That shows that Shammah Health Center scores 97.5% every day…our staff have a lot to be proud of!
A lot of the information that we have been absorbing over the past two months is new to Burundi. There are a lot of old ways of doing things that are still considered in Burundi as current and up-to-date. Both in practice and in schooling, techniques and knowledge from decades ago are still prevalent. It has been quite a challenge, even with our staff being incredibly open and willing to learn, to make those changes from the new to the old and improve the quality of healthcare here in Burundi. Our staff are on their way, and they’re doing amazing!
This past week we invited leaders, supervisors and administrators from our surrounding community to come to Shammah and have our first Community Health meeting! We shared a meal together as we presented our mission and the vision for Shammah Health Center, what we’ve accomplished, and our future goals. It was also a time of reflection as we received feedback from the leaders, and they shared stories of their experiences and what they have heard about Shammah. One of the leaders was a woman that we recognized, and she had been with the mother of one of our deliveries where the baby passed away soon after. She spoke about how we had done everything we could for the baby and treated the mother and family with love and respect. It was so encouraging to hear! When we presented our vision of having every delivery in our target area being medically supervised at SHC, everyone burst out in applause. This will be the first of many meetings as we continue to establish a relationship between our health center and the people who live around us. Partnerships were formed, trust was built, and we know that we have advocates in our community who are proud of us, excited about our low prices and debt program, and willing to share that with the people they work with and oversee. We know that there are good things ahead for Shammah!
We have also started providing health education in schools as a way of promoting the health centre and furthering the health education in our community. A couple weeks ago, we taught a primary school about the spread of infection, and hand-washing and hygiene. Dr. Zenon also provided education to the teachers on hypertension and diabetes. We were surrounded in a field by over 800 children! When Josh showed up to pick us up, he was almost pulled down and trampled by hundreds of kids…it was definitely a crazy experience!
Most of the time, children here run away from us, because they think we’re going to eat them! This was the first time ever we experienced Burundian kids running at us! Haha!
We also hired 3 new staff members! Two nurses (Jean Pascal & Chantal) and an accountant/financial manager (Jean de Dieu)…all of whom have demonstrated themselves to be very bright individuals with a lot of potential! We are thrilled to welcome them into our team…they already fit in so well! As we see Shammah Health Center expand and grow, the vision that God provided to have SHC be a sustainable, locally run health centre is quickly coming to fruition and it is very exciting to see. Over this last month, we have been providing training and supplementary education to our new staff as we continue to transition!
Shammah Health Center also welcomed a new baby into the world! A healthy baby boy named Prince! Josh and I were woken up at 6AM to a mama who was ready to deliver! We worked together with Chantal, our new nurse, to deliver this healthy baby boy…it was wonderful to see our new nurse in her element and do so well helping this mama through labour. I was also able to catch the baby…a very cool experience…and something I never thought I would share with my husband…especially because I wasn’t the one having the baby!
Josh recently attended the Segal Family Foundation Health Workshop in Uganda where he made many great connections with other local and international organizations and learned many beneficial things that will help Shammah Health Center continue to develop over these next few months and years.
I had the great blessing of being able to attend a “Thrive” retreat in Tanzania this past week. Thrive is a ministry for global women in missions that provides a respite from the missions field, where we have time to refresh, debrief in small groups, spend time with the Lord in worship and prayer, learn, and meet with other amazing women serving around Africa. It was a much needed time for me to step back, gain perspective, learn, and be encouraged!
This next week, Josh will be attending an ECHO conference in Bujumbura with Claude, a member of BYFC staff, where they will learn more about agriculture and malnutrition. This will help us in the setting up of Shammah Health Center’s malnutrition project that is currently underway.
Please keep Shammah Health Center in your prayers as we continue to grow, expand, and transition!