Friday, October 11, 2013
Thursday, October 10, 2013
Wednesday, October 09, 2013
So they waited for is. The children all sitting wait to be seen. And we did. Each with their own personality, unique smile and their own story when we took the time to ask. They were happy despite all that they faced and gave us hope that they will be okay. The project teachers, the principal and the pastor were clearly engaged with the children and cared deeply about them. It seems that when we are this far from what we know as comfortable, we are amazed at the resilience of the children who live in an environment that we would have second thoughts about loving there ourselves. But isn't it true that if there are people who care enough to "care" are there for us, we can endure. And that is what I saw today. Teachers, pastors and staff who take care of, care about and care for the children. I can't ask for anything more.
On all things give thanks,
Tuesday, October 08, 2013
Monday, October 07, 2013
Every now and then we have a day that we want to forget. Or remember. A day that is so out of the ordinary, so different, that it strikes a cord in our hearts and minds and plays a tune that makes us smile or gives us pause. Today was one of those days.
Not knowing what to expect, we drove almost 2 hours to a remote province where we walked down a dirt road to a hidden school haven with children waiting. All were in uniform, white shirts, pants, skirts ad blue ties for both boys and girls. Somewhat unexpected. Where were the poor and the isolated? Where were the malnourished and the weak? Where were the sick? Wait for it. They were there, but hidden behind smiles and a sense of community in a school that offered an education and an opportunity to pursue a better life than the one the children were born Into. And now here is the picture seen behind the uniforms and the smiles. Severe effects of malnutrition resulting in stunting. Children who looked like they were 5 years younger than what they really were. A 9 year old who was the size of a 6 year old. A 12 year old who looked like a 7 year old. Short stature with long term effects. Girls who will deliver prematurely once they become women and get pregnant. Boys who will grow up with weakened physiques limiting them to vocations that they may not be given an opportunity to succeed on. The pictures here are of how children are affected. Healthy looking on the outside but compromised for life due to malnutrition before the age of 5 years. The tragedy behind the veil of presumed health.
We left feeling like we impacted lives. First aid training given and first aid kits left behind. A water filtration system left behind. Dental hygiene taught and toothbrushes left behind. Medications given and left behind. Children with illnesses identified who needed advance care sent to facilities who could help. Love and validation that they were children who deserved nothing less than that they were children who were treasured and cared for and cared about. All 462 of them. Yes, we saw, played with, treated, cared about and loved on 462 children. Today. What a day. A day of sadness behind our smiles knowing that the children were going to be what they were, stunted, for the rest of their loves. A day of happiness for leaving something good behind. A day so out of the ordinary that it made us both smile and give pause. Bittersweet, but what a wonderful day all the same.
In all things give thanks,
Tuesday, October 01, 2013
Question. Answers. More questions than answers. I am often asked how and why we choose the countries we go to. It is not that complex. We go where we think the greatest need is for the children at that point in time. So off we go to India, our 3rd trip there, but to a different location. South, on the very tip of India to an area called “Kerla”. We have several projects there with many children who are in need of medical care and nutritional assessments. A team of 20 will be leaving, 4 doctors, 7 nurses and 9 lay members.
I remember India well. The children have an aura of the unkempt, many with bags under their eyes, a pouchy face, or more often than not, sunken and void of emotion, and hair that is coated with dirt. I remember the times that we were faced with making critical decisions as to whether we could help a child or not. We did most of the time. And that “most of the time” is what still stays with me. Sometimes we can’t for reasons that may surprise you. No medical facility to send the child to that can offer the medical interventions that are needed and sometimes, yes hard to believe, parents who don’t see the need to pursue medical treatment, believing in an obscure spiritual healing that is contrary to the evidence that there needs to be a partnership between medicine and religion. It is then that I realize that the critical moments in life always arrive with astonishing suddenness and then they are gone without us being able to do anything about them.
I have come to realize that the decisions of our past are the architects of our present. I try to make the right decisions for my patients but there are times when I am in a moral gray area. How far to go with limited resources and realistic outcomes. It’s the age-old battle between mind and heart, which seldom want the same thing.
We leave in a few days. We will see over 1500 patients in five days if all works out as planned. I pray that as we serve those who come to us for help, they will be comforted by the fact that whatever we do, it will be a validation of who they are: persons. No judgment, no pity, simply caring and love. For me, each day that I am with them, will be the beginning of forever. I want them to remember even though we are there for just a short time, we validate that the power of the human spirit and faith can endure any challenge, no matter how daunting.
In all things give thanks,