Here are Anige's notes from today.
Today we went to one of the nicest orphanages a girl from our team has ever seen - and she's been to various countries multiple times. It was run by Catholic nuns and you could tell they loved the kids. But there were so, so many kids. It was dingy and dirty, but it was obvious there were policies in place for caring for the kids. We sang songs, did crafts, played soccer with one of the Shadow Mountain Church soccer balls (photo to be posted when I return), and visited the baby rooms and the special needs room. We also acted out a Bible story and wrote with sidewalk chalk all over their playground.
Yesterday's stories were heartbreaking. Today I SAW heartwrenching. I held the hand of a 7 year old girl lying in a bed in the baby room. This little girl has water on her brain and her head is the size of about 4-5 basketballs. Yes, I said 4-5, full-sized basketballs. She has hydrocephalus and some other obvious medical needs. I rubbed her arms. She held them up and turned her head my direction. I talked to her and prayed for her. She kept looking my way even though she is blind. Then, her tears slowly fell down the corners of her eyes. The nannies said she doesn't have much time left. I honestly didn't know how to pray for her, but I prayed for healing and for her to be with Jesus soon if she was not to be healed here on Earth. Many of us Mom's had a hard time with one to say the least! I have a picture of her and I but won't be posting it. It was one of those private moments to be shared privately. One Dad in our group was sweet, though, and said, "That's why God made mothers...they can love all children, can't they!"
After the orphanage, we went to the Hamlin Fistual Hospital. That was just as hard to see, I promise you.
Here is what we learned. 3,000 women ages 13 to 20-something come here to be treated for Fistula every year. A wonderful Australian doctor, Dr. Reginald Hamlin founded this project and I'm telling you, God will bless him for this one!
As women are in labor, a baby enters the birth canal. If the baby gets stuck for whatever reason, labor goes on and on. Sometimes for five days. During that time, the baby dies. An obstetric fistula develops when blood supply to the tissues of the birth canal and the bladder is cut off during prolonged obstructed labor. The tissues die and a hole forms through which urine and/or feces pass uncontrollably. Women who develop fistulas are often abandoned by their husbands, rejected by their communities and forced to live an isolated existence. As the women lie on the floor in prolonged labor, nerves can die, tendons can shrink and the women have difficulty walking.
The lucky ones are carried miles and miles on the back of a family member to make their way to this one hospital in Addis Ababa. These women receive surgery, learn who Jesus is, receive counseling and physical therapy. They regain their self respect somehow (by the Grace of God, I'm sure!) and eventually return home to try and live a normal life again. Sometimes their entire treatment takes two years of extremely painful physical therapy.
So that's the story. After we heard the "story", we visited a floor of this hospital and saw WAY too MANY 13-ish year-old girls. Not women, but girls. They looked so sad. They were in real pain. They laid in bed after bed after bed recovering from surgery. The cand and hand holding we game them was something, I'm sure, but hardly anything at all. I cannot even imagine what ehy are going through. I've had to watch my own baby die and bury her. I was sick afterward for a few weeks. I was depressed. But I wasn't alone. My worst day (and there were many), seem like absolutely nothing compared to what these women go through and I'm almost ashamed to say how depressed I was when I compare what these women, girls really, have had to deal with.
I knew this would be one of the harder trips to go on, but I'm so glad I listened to God and came here. Tomorrow, we go to Mother Teresa's HIV/AIDS orphanage and I'm bracing for the worst - I think. How do you do that?
I'll write more later! Off to do a coffee ceremony now. That should be interesting.