Liberia 2017

Kwendin #25 | March 11, 2017

Saturday afternoon and all is well. We are taking some time to quietly rest except for Kristie who has just pumped up the soccer ball and is out with the local kids in the hot sun. That much sun is more than I can take.  

Correction: she has just driven up on the back of a motorbike with 2 of the young guys who stay here. Happy as ever. Anyway...  

Let me start with last night. We did indeed go back and see the lady in labour, about 10 pm. And it turned out she was only 3 cm dilated and the head was still high. Her contractions were not all that great. I had thought earlier she was 6 cm but I was wrong. I talked with Angeline our midwife, and she consented to observe the patient overnight. We went home.  

So after breakfast Kate and Spencer and I went to see her again. She had not progressed one speck. It was time to refer her--I strongly suspect she will need a caesarian simply because the baby is too big to come out. We loaded her in the car (both Spencer and Kate chose to go) and sent them off. I walked home and got back in time to have a last few words with John Karmo before he went back to Monrovia. He has had a good session here and sees very clearly what is going on. I am confident things will start to move, and it is likely to be slow! His leadership and vision and authority are critical to the development of Kwendin.  

At the end of the morning Bob took us to see the cocoa plant nursery. One of the local projects to raise money here is to plant cocoa trees and harvest the cocoa. There are several hundred little cocoa plants, and about half of them have already been transplanted into the ground. They will do the rest in August when the rainy season starts. In a few years they will start producing cocoa beans and bring in some consistent income. On the way we also stopped to look at some rubber trees that were being tapped for their sap. That is a huge cash crop in this country--Firestone has a large rubber factory where they put out tires. I got some pictures of the trees being tapped and heard a little about the process.  

It was interesting but it was hot. I am thinking it is about 37-40 in the middle of the day here. We were glad to get back home.  

There is a steady queue of people outside the house wanting to see one or another of us. For me, there are patients who have only just heard that someone has come to Kwendin. That means they have travelled far. I can't just tell them to go away (in truth I am finished my clinical work except for emergencies) so I have to at least hear their stories. One very complex and ill patient fortuntely arrivd while Luah the RN was visiting, and he did a great job talking to her. Her problems were far more complex than I could help with. Another couple of people had travelled from Bong County--maybe 6 hrs drive from here. One had a hernia (so I put him on my list) and another had a lipoma for removal (so I put her on my list too).    

Bob has spent time talking to various teachers of the two different schools today as well. I won't tell all of that story.  

After lunch we went to see the Biomass Electricity project. It was very interesting. They cook down wood chips to get flammmable gas which runs an internal combustion engine which drives the generator. The building has 3 generators that can each put out 20KW. Right now they only need to run one at a time because there isn't all that much demand on the system. It means that the idea of running a line to our place is quite possible--they have the capacity to supply that power. but it is 2 km so there would need to be a transformer at each end, and a long line of power poles. A sizeable capital investment. It will come one day.  

At the end of the afternoon we took one 12v battery and a couple of solar panels and brought them to the motorbike mechanic in town. I barked my shin climbing up a stone wall to get the panels onto his roof but it didn't take long. One job done.

There are a multitude of jobs to do before we drive away Monday morning. Getting messages from Kwendin to Canada and back has been a challenge this year like it is every year. I have a variety of machines to use to access the internet and send emails, and often there is a pattern that emerges that works consistently. This year my hotmail account has been repeatedly frozen by Microsoft, who are suspicious of repeated access from Liberia. But other things work. Text messages work well though they are short. There are also other messaging services that I do not use (like Facebook messaging, WhatsApp and the like) and I know some of the other team members have tried them with a variety of success. The trouble of course is when you don't hear anything from someone who is important to you--are they struggling to get through? Too busy to write? Uncaring? After a day you shrug it off, after 2 days you start to wonder, after 4 days you start making up stories. Usually quite unhelpful stories that are patently untrue but they sound believable unless to try to tell them to somebody else who is not so invested emotionally.  

And I would say that overall our communication has worked pretty well this year. For which I am thankful to God.  

Another technical assignment for me this year was to get a series of math instructional videos onto the tablet that has been left here for that purpose. It was surprisingly difficult to do. I eventually got them loaded onto the SD card on my phone, but could not get them onto the tablet till I sent them by bluetooth. It took about half an hour but it worked.  

Bob wants us to each be ready to say a few words in church tomorrow when we visit Boyee. Should be a blessing. I'll try to send this before the lightning gets closer. I would like it to get close enough to rain again.

Dr. John Potts