Saturday, July 31, 2010
The door to my classroom. We are busy Grade One bees this year.
Visit The Farrell Family in Africa for some more pictures.
Romeo's mother, Badokideou, wanted to know why his lip looked the way it did and how she could fix it. She was told to go to the hospital in Lomé. A kind stranger at the hospital told her about Mercy Ships. This was a place – a ship – where she could go to receive free medical treatment, including cleft lip and palate surgeries.
Romeo arrived on the Africa Mercy when he was one week old.
It was determined that surgery could correct Romeo's condition, but he had to gain weight first. He was enrolled in Mercy Ship's Infant Feeding Program. Because of the cleft lip and palate, it was difficult for Romeo to get the breast milk he needed to grow. The milk went into the hole in the roof of his mouth, causing him to spit up. Thus, he was not getting the nutrition he needed, and he weighed only 2.61kg (5.75 lbs).
Infant Feeding Program Nurse, Melissa Davey, worked with Badokideou, teaching her an alternative method of feeding. The cup method worked best for Romeo. Mercy Ships provided the formula that Badokideou fed to Romeo through a small plastic cup. Since he was not sucking to get his food, there was less spitting up, and more of the formula went into his stomach.
Time passed and sure enough, Romeo gained weight. He began to look healthy and strong. Romeo and Badokideou came to the ship once a week, and Romeo weighed-in and got measured. Then, they were given enough formula to last them the week, until they came back to the ship. He made steady progress, and Nurse Melissa Davey was confident he would be able to have surgery.
She was absolutely right! Romeo reached his goal weight, and a Mercy Ships volunteer surgeon performed surgery, repairing the cleft lip.
Even after the surgery, Badokideou continued feeding Romeo via the cup method, yielding great results. Happily, Romeo has grown to 6.13 kg (13.5 lbs). Romeo still has a cleft palate that will have to be repaired at another time, but the Infant Feeding Program at Mercy Ships has given him a healthy start to life. If Badokideou had not been taught an alternate method of feeding Romeo, he would have suffered from malnutrition, and his health would have declined drastically.
Story by Claire Bufe
Photos by Melissa Davey
Friday, July 30, 2010
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Bethany started a non-profit called eXile International after a trip to Congo in June 2008. Her experiences there spoke so deeply to her that she started this organisation to provide counseling and healing to former child soldiers.
The stories that she shared sent shivers down my spine. Please visit her blog .The Heart of Exile. or read more about eXile international here.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
The City of Israel church building looks like many of the churches that I have seen since being in West Africa. There is a high wall to seperate it from the street and a high ceiling supported by posts along the sides. The congregation sit on wooden benches or plastic chairs and there is a platform in front.
The pastor preaches while Emmanuel (on the left) translates for us
The worship band
Sunday School at the entrance to the church
Pastor Israel invited Kelly, Alainie and I to introduce ourselves and share some words of encouragement. Then we found ourselves in a photo shoot! Several pictures were taken with different people. Here we are with the leaders of the church.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Allison captured some of the flooded roads on camera...
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Sunday, July 4, 2010
They can read. He cannot. They can play football. He cannot.
Christian cannot do these things because he has cataracts. His father, Adado, explains,“I noticed when he was three years old that Christian had a problem . We would ask him to pick things up , and he would feel around on the table or the floor until eventually identifying the item.”
Christian has attended school for only one year. He is unable to read the chalkboard, and it is hard for him to focus and to learn. But his father felt it was important that he attend school. Adado says, “He is struggling to learn things , and he is slow, but I wanted him to be around others his age. I didn't want him to miss out on an education . ”
Then, a light shone through the darkness. A man who lived near Adado in Lomé had just received eye surgery for free. The man told Adado and Christian about Mercy Ships and where to go for screening.
“Free surgery ?” Adado thought. “Could this be true?”
Adado and Christian went to the patient screening site and saw an eye specialist. They were then sent to the Mercy Ships Hospitality Center. An eye tech team performed an external and internal eye examination to determine the appropriateness of surgery. They confirmed that Christian had cataracts in both eyes … and he was a candidate for surgery! He was given a priceless, bright yellow appointment card with a date for surgery.
Christian Akakpovi doing crafts in the ward before his cataract surgery.
Christian with fellow patient Gafar Alassani (center) as the kids play around in D ward. Gafar had a large tumor removed on the right side of his face. Mercy Yovo, left, was having cataract surgery on her right eye.
Adado says, “I couldn't believe it. For so long we had spent all the money we had to find help for Christian. I didn't work for days on end while in hospitals waiting with him. Now, he will get help , and I am so thankful.”
Cataracts in West Africa tend to be very dense due to the intense sunlight and the lack of adequate eye care. Dr. Glenn Strauss is an expert on African cataracts and has been working with Mercy Ships for 13 years. He has developed a team onboard the Africa Mercy that is able to perform, on average, 20 surgeries per day!
Christian is rolled out of surgery and begins recovery.
Christian's father, Adado, waits patiently for Christian to recover from cataract surgery.
Just one day after surgery, Christian was feeling upbeat. He was coloring a picture with his father and playing with other kids in the ward. Adado looked at his son and said, “Christian, can you see? What is the nurse wearing?”
Big smiles now that Christian can see clearly!Christian looked up at Mercy Ships Charge Nurse, Ali Chandra, and said, “Yes. I can see. She has a blue band on her head and a blue top.”
Ali stood in her bright blue scrubs and blue headband, nodding her head and smiling. “Yep , h e can see!” she said. “Dr. Glenn has done it again.”
Mercy (left) and Christian (right) get ready to leave the ward on discharge day. They have both received successful cataract surgeries on the Africa Mercy !
Story by Claire Bufe Edited by Nancy Predaina