What’s Been Going On

July 21, 2009

We sat down to lunch today to our favorite treat -reminiscent of our time in Nepal- Dahl Baht and Tarkati (lentil soup, rice and curry). I say reminiscent, because we can only sort of make it authentic. There is no brown rice or Nepali spice, but in the market stalls of Gimbie one can find garlic, onion, ginger, turmeric, cumin, coriander and green chilies and these make for a pretty good vegetable curry and Dahl. We had two 15 year old twin girls and their 10 year old younger sister over for lunch. They came begging for money to Mark’s office this morning. Their mother (who works in the housekeeping department) is in the hospital with Typhoid and has had to spend all her money on medicine. Mark took food to their mother and employed the girls (who are out of school for the summer) doing odd jobs in our yard for the day. They liked the lentils and rice, but quietly pushed the vegetable curry around their plates. I told them this food was from India and pointed to India on the laminated map we keep on our wall. They giggled and covered their mouths.

Times are hard this season for the people of Gimbie. Not only was the coffee crop poor, but electricity is so scarce that concrete is being imported from Pakistan instead of manufactured in Ethiopia and has doubled in price as a result. Because of the high price of concrete, most construction has stopped for the time being, and many people are starving hungry and out of work. Just this morning Mark had 6 people in his office asking for food, money, work, or all of the above. We try to personally employ who we can with odd jobs. There are lots of weeds to cut around campus since the rains started. The Squires of course aren’t starving, especially with all the dried fruit and nuts kind family and friends have sent over! Our large, regular meals are delicious and occasionally tinged slightly with guilt. How can one wholly enjoy a good meal when people one cares about have been without one? So, every day I make extra food and send it with somebody. I know I’m not really making a dent in the problem, but for those people who get a meal that day I’ve made a difference and that helps.

Mark has been busy in his “off work” time coordinating an evangelistic series. We had some donations come in for Bibles and literature as well as a complete set of 26 Share Him sermons! Together with the projector and DVD player donated by Dr Oxenholt we have the supplies needed to begin. Three young Ethiopian men from Mark’s Friday night Bible study are translating the sermons and will preach them in the Oromifa language. This week in the evenings Mark is working with each of the young men on presentations. Share Him sermons are really nice because they can be followed word for word and have pictures to go with each thought, but the Ethiopian men will need to get used to the system of using a laptop to advance the slides and reading the sermon notes they have translated into Oromifa. The series will begin at 6:00pm each evening and will last for 18 nights. There will also be a children’s program with Monica, Stephanie and Renee helping to lead out. Ansley and I (with Jonah) will help watch the five babies at Monica’s house while she does children’s programs each night. People seem excited about it. Already hearing of it, people from at five other villages have asked us do evangelistic meetings in their villages. With the new small portable generator that was just donated we hope it will be possible to do this soon. We also hope that with the combination of DVD player/Projector/Generator, we can do more health promotion teaching in the evenings at all of our outer clinics. We can do health promotion lectures with pictures by hanging a white sheet up from a tree anywhere and running the computer and projector by portable generator( very doable once the rains stop). There are simple things we can get the word out about that could make a big difference. For example, there is the prevalent problem with goiters and iodine deficiency, but an iodine tablet every few months or iodized salt would prevent it.

It’s been cold and wet around here. Our laundry mildews on the line and the hospital blankets take days to dry. Money was donated for a laundry spinner for the hospital and though there aren’t any spinners available right now in Addis, Mark was told more are coming. So hope is on the horizon. After our hot dry winter, being the native California Girl that I am, all this cold rain has me thinking its December, and with candlelight every other evening (out of necessity) it seems cozy, like Christmas. So while I know most of my readers are likely enjoying watermelon, sweet corn on the cob and vine ripened tomatoes at the lake, I’m sipping herbal tea and (when my laptop has enough battery) listening to Christmas music. Mark, I must note, thinks I’m silly but Jonah’s all for it (he doesn’t know the difference). Jonah has been keeping me on my toes- or more accurately on my knees praying for wisdom lately. He is a little rascal……sparing the details here. One fun thing though, is that Jonah’s been spending a lot of time playing with his first ever Leggo set (sent to him by his Aunties)! His dexterity is improving and he is making all sorts of crazy vehicles from the kit. It’s fun to see him growing up to do things we did as kids. We borrowed a yellowing copy of Farmer Boy (by Laura Ingalls Wilder) from Ansley. I wasn’t sure if Jonah would like it yet, being he is three and there aren’t many pictures, but he loves it! It’s fun for me to re-read an old childhood favorite.

Ansley, Renee or Petra have been watching Jonah so that I can spend some time in the outpatient clinic twice a week. This has been a great diversion for me to think as a nurse practitioner again and to volunteer some hands on help at the Hospital. It isn’t easy of course. The pediatric patients sometimes make me want to cry. I haven’t seen enough suffering children in my life not to be quite bothered by it. For example, there is the baby boy with TB and a white chest x-ray, sitting up on his mother’s lap to breathe and whimpering in pain with each breath he takes. His mother puts her breast against his face and he sucks for comfort. His little body is emaciated. His mother looks exhausted. The medicine doesn’t seem to be helping. I think of Jonah and empathize with how desperate this mother must feel.

I’ve been working with Dr Priscilla and we’ve seen everything from TB, HIV, Typhoid, and strange rashes to malnutrition and Leprosy. Lately, there have been many cases of Typhoid and Dysentery. Our hospital census is full. Mark and Midhasso (an Ethiopian/American Pharmacy and Pre Med student) did a demonstration on water purification in the outpatient clinic this morning and gave out two large boxes worth of Chlorination-Flocculation tablets which were donated by a short term mission group earlier this year. People eagerly accepted the tablets. It is not only because the strong rains have flushed the dirty streets which drain into the river where many get their water year around, but also that since the chemically treated Gimbie town water is off when there is no electricity, even those who can afford to purchase town water are forced to use the river water many days. Frankly, those diarrhea bugs are hard to avoid. Many volunteers have also been sick with them lately. Jonah for example, was up much of Sunday night vomiting. Praise God the electricity had come on and we were able to give him a warm bath around midnight when he started with the first round- which had covered him with mess. Poor little fellow- he was scared. His eyes were big as he said “Mommy I can’t breathe and my heart is beating”. I reassured him that what he was feeling was nausea and it would pass. After five or six episodes of emesis (and lots prayers) it did ease, and he was finally able to sleep the rest of the night.

Yesterday afternoon we heard desperate screaming in Oromifa. Bagalech (who was washing our laundry) heard the commotion and dashed out the door, up the stairs and to the sidewalk by the morgue. The neighbor women heard and ran towards the sound. I picked up Jonah and ran to see if I could help, too. It turned out little Bony (Jonah’s friend who lives next door), had been chased by a curious monkey. We were relieved to find he was fine after all, just quite frightened.

A big thank you anyone who is reading this for being persistent in checking for new posts. My excuse for sporadic posts is that it has been quite difficult for me to get online lately. The phone lines have not been working in Mark or Paul’s office for several months. There are two phone lines that work at the hospital, but they are in high demand since in addition to the phone lines being down, internet service is also sporadic and several of the Farangi computers currently have viruses which keep them from being able to connect when internet is working (mine included). I do appreciate all the comments and am sorry I have not been able to respond. Sometimes the internet is too slow even to log on to WordPress. But your letters and comments have been downloaded and are precious encouragement to us. Thank-you!