Liberia 2017

Kwendin #6 | February 21, 2017

Hey, yesterday's email went really nicely last night. We seem to have a system that works. Thanks be to God.

Our first day at the clinic is done.

We all had a good sleep last night, in our own beds here in Kwendin. It was hot and muggy when we went to bed but it did cool off during the night enough that I woke up and put on a shirt. But we all slept till the rooster declared itself about 5:30, and some managed to sleep past that as well. A very good start after the broken night before.

We knew the welcome service was to be at 9, so we had some time organizing things, packing more stuff to take to the clinic, and I took the time to put our solar panels on the roof to connect to our 12v car battery to charge our cell phones. It was surprisingly complex. We had some solar panels waiting for us here that had blown off the school--we had put them up 2 yrs ago. So we connected them up and tested the voltage--it was coming through negative. So I went over the connnections with Spencer. One of the panels had been re-wired with reverse polarity--it was not my handiwork and it took some time to undo connections. finally I got them re-connected properly and the voltage came through nicely. I suspect this work would be impossible to do if I did not have a volt meter, and the people who had tried to repair things clearly had not had a volt meter. Anyway, our 12v battery has been charging nicely all day, and has had about 4 cell phones plugged into it for much of the day without draining anything. When we're done this year we will re-install those solar panels on the school--it is the way that the teachers rechrge their phones all year.

Enough technical stuff for this letter.

We all piled into the car and drove to the church where they had all the students from the school waiting for us. But it was a surprising number of students, and once the welcome service began they told us there were students from both schools in Kwendin. You have to understand that the school we work with is here on the campus of the Kwendin Vocational Training Centre, outside of town, which covers grades 1-9 and is a private school which charges fees (to pay teachers salaries). But in the town itself, in Kwendin, is a government school which is free. But it has no building!! They meet outside. And they have good teachers and zero materials. And as we speak, the community has started to build a building.

Anyway, the kids sang for us--about 400 kids without any instruments or ammplification, and it was delightful and almost deafening. Various people got up and said a few words of welcome but the impressive thing was the kids singing.

Then we went off to the clinic. All the familiar staff were there, and there were two new staff: a qualified midwife named Angeline and a Community Health Volunteer coordinator named Leroy (an RN). Angeline was seeing all the pregnant women, doing just fine without our help. So we set up in two rooms with Kate working with Spencer, and Kristie working with me. We probably saw about 40 people, and quite a few of them looking for surgical booking for hernia repairs. There was one fellow that I ordered lab work on, so Kristie did that for me using her special little machine that she had brought. It took longer than expected because the machine gave an error message saying it was too hot. Pretty reasonable complaint--we were too hot too! The staff found some cold packs that they use for vaccines, and cooled it off, and it worked nicely. We probably finished seeing patients about 1:30 or two and ate a bit of lunch, then walked home.

It was a blazing hot walk home--we were all very hot and sweaty on arrival. Kristie very kindly bought us each a can of pop on the trip and that helped. It's about 2 km and there is no shade. I am guessing it is 35 C and I kept repeating the phrase "Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noon day sun"--Kipling must have experience it first hand in India. I cut up a pineapple and put the pieces out in a bowl, and it was gone in a matter of minutes.

I got a text message from a doctor in Tappita so I phoned him back about our surgical bookings. He was happy for us to come and we have been given Friday Feb 24, Wed Mar 1, Friday Mar 3 and Wed Mar 8. So I will assemble the patient lists and get on with the work.

So this afternoon we have been meeting with people (I have seen 2 hernia patients and three with aches and pains, and told every one of them to see me at the clinic). I tried to recharge my 9.5v cordless drill but it blew the fuse in the cigarette lighter tip. I'll have to find another fuse with more capacity. Bob has been talking with people who are students in post secondary courses, who are being helped by previous team members who have developed friendships with them. It is so encouraging to see the young people of Liberia in their studies, cleary developing into the future leaders of the commmunity and of the country.

Kristie and Kate have spent the afternoon outside with the kids of this area--talking with them, holding the little ones on their laps, playing frisbee, playing catch with the bag of tennis balls that Kristie brought. I'm afraid I can not face doing all that in this heat but they seem to be enjoying themselves immensely. I have told them a few times that they are not allowed to take any of the kids home but they don't seem to believe me! Actually they do believe me. But they are so drawn to the kids and it is lovely to see.

There is a lady who helps in our kitchen, named Kou Kallon. She is one of the untrained midwives in Kwendin, and she is the wife of Peter Kallon who is the nursing student in Monrovia that we have been helping. She is happy with Angeline the trained midwife and told me that Angeline has scheduled the various midwives of the area to take turns coming to Kweindin to help her with the prenatal visits every Tuesday. Kou was there last week.

Time to send this off before supper. Bob and Kou have made up a big batch of spaghetti and I am ready to eat.

Dr. John Potts