We have returned from our Home Assignment, or “furlough”, of four months in the US. In our previous post, you can find links to a couple messages we were invited to share at Toledo Vineyard and our daughter’s church in New York, North Country Fellowship. I greatly appreciate those who desire to hear about our work and perspectives. Not everyone was interested, including some groups we hold dear. For some, our lives and message are considered “edgy” and extreme. Please listen, read some past blog posts, and decide for yourself if our lives reflect the Spirit of Jesus, our own or that of another. We would challenge you to daily abandon your life, for the benefit of others, and follow the “Lover of our souls” where you are or where He might call you to go.
Our time at home was rich and restful and we returned ready to serve those forgotten by the world and held dear by our Father. The hospital ran exceptionally well in our absence, because of the servant hearts, effort and work-ethic of our tireless, devoted, and beautiful colleagues, the DeSouzas, and that of the local folks working in the clinic, who we have trained over the past many years. Cavango continues to see ill visitors who travel hours to days, by motorbike, car and foot. We saw a woman in heart failure this week, brought by her family two days by car, from the capital of the country, Luanda, to be evaluated. She went home diagnosed accurately and much improved with appropriate treatment.
As we near the end of the rainy season, the hospital is busy, with many severe cases of malaria as well as the normal array of illnesses, which are listed with our 2021 stats below. Those supporting this work must know what/who you are supporting and we desire to remain accountable to you for the measurable aspects of our work. We know that the heart and soul work in Cavango cannot be seen with human eyes, and will be evident over the next thousand years, but some of what we can currently measure is listed.
Our return has been fraught with challenges, one in particular. We diagnosed a 45y/o man with peritonitis secondary to Typhoid Fever, who needed surgery to survive. We treated him as best we could for two days as we arranged a flight with our beautiful MAF colleagues to our wonderful and skilled surgical colleagues in Lubango for surgery. Our ambulance (an SUV Toyota truck used for this purpose) dropped the man off at the airstrip and then continued on to the closest city for fuel and supplies. On the way, about two hours from Cavango, the clutch simply stopped working and the driver walked for an hour to get where he had cell coverage and he contacted me via WhatsApp. I left immediately and arrived after two hours, assessed the ambulance and continued to the city (another hour) to arrange a tow truck to transport the ambulance another two hours to a mechanic who has worked on the ambulance in the past. A dear friend in Huambo (the city to which we would transport the car) helped greatly with finding an available tow truck (there aren’t many in this part of the country) and we arranged the tow, picked up the needed supplies and fuel and began our journey home.
When we were about an hour from home (about 10 miles), in the dark and on dirt, we were enveloped by a huge storm. The dirt roads here are perilous when dry and much worse during heavy rains. While descending a steep and slick hill, my car began sliding and ended up falling in a “rut” deeper than the wheels, the car’s back bumper and one side hung up on the sides of the rut. The rear passenger wheel was not touching ground (photos). About ten guys arrived from the closest village and generously helped us with hatchets, sticks and crowbars on our knees and bellies, in the pouring rain, trying to dislodge the car, without success. I’m getting too old for this! In the storm there was, of course, no moon and we had only my phone for light. I contacted Betsy with our Garmin satellite “Tracker” (her idea for me to take it) and she found a couple guys in our clinic to join her and she set out in our pickup truck, looking ahead to an hour on the dirt “road” which, by now, was like ice. In the interim, we continued to try to dig out the car, to no avail. Betsy lost her brakes on the way but arrived safely and, after several attempts and breaking our steel “tow cable”, my car literally jumped out of the rut on one huge pull from Betsy’s car and we were freed.
My car’s 2WD and 4WD high gear wouldn’t function, so with this lack and Betsy’s very weak brakes, we crawled home in 4WD low in one car and, in the other, downshifting to slow/stop. We collapsed into bed, realizing that we were now left with three cars needing potentially costly repairs from this one (simple) transport.
The patient transported to the dirt airstrip (the initial purpose of the trip), was uneventfully flown by MAF to Lubango (no ruts or slippery hills on the way) and survived his life-saving surgery the following day. I was reminded of the cost of serving people in such a remote area. Three cars broken (purchase/repairs – thousands $), MAF flight transport for this man to/from CEML ($1000), surgery and hospital stay for this man at CEML ($1000), operational Cavango hospital (thousands $), operational CEML surgical center in Lubango (thousands $), cross-cultural workers (relocation/presence – thousands $)…
This is not hypothetical, philosophical, theological or ethics 101, but we must ask, once again, “Is it worth it?” and “What are we willing to do?” to benefit these forgotten people?
- 7000+ consultations
- 1500+ admissions
- 100+ deaths, almost all preventable with decent and timely health care access
- Avg of 30 acute inpatients/day in about 25-30 beds.
- Avg of 50 TB inpatients/day in about 30 beds
- 300+ TB patients treated, almost all cured from severe disease
- 250+ morning gatherings/messages, each with 50-200 people, discussing how we might improve our physical and spiritual health
- 20,000+ unchurched adults heard of the Kingdom and a clear invitation to relationship w Jesus
- 100+ pts transported by air (MAF) for life saving surgery
- CV19 – 10-20 hospitalized cases diagnosed clinically (no testing here), 2 deaths
- Most common admission diagnoses (not in any particular order):
- Heart Failure
- Pneumonia and respiratory illnesses
- Diarrheal illnesses
- Liver failure secondary to Hepatitis or previous treatment by shamans
- Various types of cancer
- Obstetric complications
- Infectious wounds
Life-threatening surgeries at CEML, $40,000/yr.
Medication/instruments – $20,000/yr
Houses for diabetic patients (who must live at hospital to receive daily insulin) – $5000 x 2
Solar unit x 2 (panels, batteries, inverter) – $8,000 x 2.
Construction labor – $3000/month
Painting the new buildings – $15,000.
A floating barrel bridge over the Cubango – $3000
Teachers’ training for village kids, 4 x 4yr, $2000/student/yr (room, board, tuition).
Training X-ray tech – $2000/yr x 3-4yr.
X-ray unit – $30,000
Lab machines – $20,000
Fence around hospital campus (security) 1200m – $20,000
Shelter house x 4 for sleeping families – $20,000
If you, an organization or someone you might know could help with these costs, many would benefit!