On Heaven and Earth In Congo.

Great story, great moment.

Going to the Sea

Oubangui River During dry season in Impfondo, Congo, the Oubangui River narrows and slows. Miles of wide sand beaches surface like beige river monsters, shimmery and hot, until the river interrupts them.

If the barge docks don’t lie, the river will rise thirty feet when the rains come, but for now it’s quiet with women schussing barefoot along the river carrying cassava on their heads and babies on their backs.

If you’re a doctor at Pioneer Christian Hospital, and not busy dispensing ARVs or convincing beautiful black women who’ve destroyed their skin with lightening creams not to split for the witch doctor, you can grab your family and trot down the cliffs to the miles of open sand. There, new and old friends are waiting.image

Tonight it’s a little cold to swim, so we camp out on an old tarp left behind by the UN. We eat avocado and pineapple sandwiches and…

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Restoring Africa’s Broken Houses

A Surgeon stood in front of 13 brave women today and said,

“I can only speak as an African and say that these women are Africa’s broken houses and God is restoring these broken houses”

Today was a special day. Today 13 ladies were discharged from our hospital. They have been hiding on a ward with blue pads hanging at the windows so nobody can peek in and no one can peek out. They were a mysterious bunch who only came out of their ward occasionally. Normally all at once. They would walk up and down the corridor and sing together and dance a little. This is all I knew about the B ward patients. Until today. Today they had a Dress Ceremony to mark their discharge.

These ladies are our VVF patients which means they have Vesico-Vaginal Fistulas. VVF is something that happens during a traumatic child labour or violent rape. It is where there is a prolonged obstructed labour period and the blood supply is cut off to the Vesico-Vaginal wall causing tissue to die and resulting in a fistula or hole from the vagina to the bladder. This means urine can freely enter the vagina and leaves the women incontinent. A young incontinent women does not stand much chance in life.

Today I heard testimonies from these brave women. Some had tears rolling down their face as they told stories of how their husbands left them and then their families rejected them. How they worked several jobs to save money for expensive operations that they hoped could make them normal again. Many of these operations failed and some ladies never saved enough to get the surgery. They laughed as they acted out how they would check behind them each time they stood up to make sure they had not left a puddle behind them. Most of these ladies had lost their children in labour and they spoke through the tears as they told their painful stories about how their still born babies were pulled from them by doctors with tools. You could say it was a little emotional.

But now they are no longer incontinent, they still have a sad story but an incredibly bright future. And they know it!!

Then they danced and sang … for hours in their new dresses and headscarfs to match in typical African style.

Restoration in progress!