Friday, June 05, 2009

All things strange

I read something in a blog this week that made me think about the Prairie group who is in Mozambique right now. Actually, I not only thought of the current team engaging in an other-worldish, cross-cultural experience, but I thought of everyone—ourselves included—who has experienced a reality so different from his/her own.

The blog post I’m referring to essentially highlighted the (often) stark contrast between health care in developed nations compared to that in developing nations. (I’ll add the link to the blog post at the end of this one for those of you who are interested in reading it.) The statement was made by a surgeon in Africa, and this is the one that hit home for me, "we live in a very strange place. we work with very strange things. we are strange people."

How very true that is for us too, and for the many who have come to visit and work in the Mozambican bush context. The world as we know it in North America, really only is—here. I thought of the Prairie group who, I know because it happens to all who come, is experiencing that same dawning reality. They’re in a strange place, working with strange things and the people are pretty different too!

Apparently, shortly after their arrival, news came of a nearby emergency. Fred, an elderly gentleman who had worked for us for many years, had fallen, fractured his hip and lay on the bare ground in need of help. Where we are, there is no 911 to call in a critical situation. If you need help, you have to find your own way, so Fred sent someone to the mission to get help. I marvel at the timing of it, since two of the team members were Emergency Medical Technicians and the nursing instructor has many years of Emergency Room experience.

Strange experience #1

Applying Canadian health care practice in a bush setting far from home is a challenge to one’s creativity!

I imagine the team was wishing for their ambulance stretchers here, but with a few tree poles and strips of cloth, they found a solution.

Fred was taken to hospital, x-rayed, treated conservatively (ankle-to-waist cast without surgery) and discharged home. He has none of the easy chairs, beds or sophisticated equipment that most have in order to better cope with this level of immobility, so more creativity is in order. Creativity, and love, that is.

Strange experience #2

Holding preventive health classes with women in a local church with mud block walls and a mud floor. The mat they're standing on is also their "bench" for sitting on...nothing to lean on and nowhere to dangle the legs from. That's always a little hard for me to do for more than a few minutes at a time.

Strange experience #3

Orientation being given, by the local hospital’s administrator, to nursing students regarding Mobile Immunization Clinic forms, the process, etc. There are throngs of women and children, and the entire event takes place outdoors under the shade of mango trees. These immunization events are certainly nothing like the ones “back home”! The team will accompany the mobile clinic to 3 separate remote locations.

Strange (or maybe not so strange) experience #4

Playing wild and crazy games with school kids. Actually, that just looks like fun!

For us, back home in Canada: Besides the usual activities that come with being here, like travelling and speaking (and that encompasses A LOT), renewing licenses, etc., we’ve also been meeting with people who are interested in coming to visit, or on short term missions trips, to our part of Mozambique. It’s great to see such interest, and of those who come, few return without feeling that they’ve been both challenged and, in some way, changed for the better. So I guess there’s something to be said for going to a strange place and working with strange things and different people. But if you come, don’t forget to bring your creativity. And bring your love, too!


PS: Credit goes to Heather for all the photos. Thanks Heather! Keep your eye on her blog as well this week for an update on the Prairie team's visit and other news.)

(Click here for the link to the blog post I mentioned above. Please note that this is a factual medical blog and the details and descriptions it contains may not be suitable for sensitive readers.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Awww poor Fred, I certainly hope he heals fast & does o.k. Life won't be easy for him for awhile not that it ever is, right? I'm sure you're anxious to check him out yourself seeing as he spent so many yrs with you.
Love you :)
your sis