Saturday, March 24, 2012


Take a look at my friend Karin's blog about her trip to Danja. It was great having her out here.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Dance Party Danja

Teaching patients about taking pictures of your
feet to show where you have been.

Ashley hired Nuhu's band to come play for us again last night. Again, the watering of the 'dance floor' was a sight to see. The band set up right outside the hospital and Ashley, Anna and I went and got the women ready. We tied their gowns tight and hung their catheter bags from the knot we made with their gowns. We hung their bag inside their gown so you couldn't see it and then the patients put their zenni, their fabric wrap, around the outside of their gown for added security and coverage. Add a head covering, or two, and we were ready to dance! Ai*, who has seemed sick and depressed since she arrived on the ward, would hardly let me sit. She would sit next to me and look at the circle of dancers, then at me, then nod to the circle and away we went again.

Anna is a friend who is living in a small village 3km away. She is working for a missionary family homeschooling their three kids. She is over today and we are going to have a Back to the Future marathon and make blueberry muffins. Thanks mom and dad for the dried blueberries! I think I will wear jeans today. Something I miss doing. It's just another day in Niger...

Waiting for the dance to start.

Watering the dance floor, as you do.

Anna's guard found a baby hedgehog and gave it to her. She has been feeding it and raising it. SUPER cute.

So Ashley and I were in a bit of a bind. We had some
spoiled food in our fridges and didn't know what to do with it.
We didn't want to just throw it away because we didn't want to seem
wasteful so we had it just sitting in our fridges for a while. Someone
told us to bury it. Ashley put on her rain boots to
protect her from snakes and she dug a hole when no one was around to see
what we were doing. The neighbor's gardener came by and he
watched in confusion for a bit then went away and we finished. I think
we need to get a goat or chicken...


This has by far been the busiest week yet since I have gotten here, and my favorite as well. I am privileged beyond words. I wish you could all witness what I am watching unfold as I type this. Hannatou* is laying in bed singing. Nana* is stading up clapping. Saratou* is smiling ear to ear clapping while laying in bed and the other nine women I am watching are trying to sleep while these three won’t stop. I can only laugh. They are the true picture of beauty.

Last Thursday an anesthesia provider arrived from the states to be here for a week. A huge answer to pray. He could only be here just under a week so we pushed through and did twelve surgeries during his time here. Long days. A few cases of malaria. Two women returning back to the operating room because of bleeding... in the same day. Lots of singing. Knitting. Coloring. Laughing. We made it through. Out of the twelve women, twelve are dry so far. It’s incredible. In all my previous trips here and stents of surgeries, never have I seen all the women dry for this long together. I am filled with such joy!

I was not scheduled to be at work right now. It’s 10:15pm and at 7:30 I got a text saying the nurse who was on brought her sick baby to work with her so it could sleep next to her here. I am here now. She is at home. I don’t mind it. It just makes me laugh that she would think that was an ok thing to do, to bring her sick baby to work with her. She speaks hausa and French. I don’t. Let’s just say handing over the patients was interesting with me and a French language book. Night time here is one of my favorite times with the women. They are relaxed and chatty. They lay in bed and talk to each other and try to talk to me and laugh and say babu hausa, no hausa. Aque hausa, there is a little hausa, I tell them. Kadunk a dunk, small small, I say. They laugh. They sing. I shake, they laugh more.

During this process of opening this hospital I keep referring to it as the birthing process. This past week was a big push. The times up until here have been contractions. Some big and some small. The water breaking was the first surgery. Contractions started building with the grand opening. Surgeries continued. We realized we were going to have to change our course of action with anesthesia and things paused. An epidural was put in so we could rest. Anesthesia showed up last week and we pushed through. By the middle of April we will close for a few weeks due to the intense heat and then I feel like the birthing process will be over and we will start the growing process.

Some things that have happened since my last blog… the weather has been interesting. I feel like I haven’t seen a blue sky in weeks. The dust has been so thick and the wind, iska, has been pretty constant. No major dust storms yet. I had been looking forward to one. I think I have changed my mind. Yes, I would like to experience one, but even with this constant blowing of the wind off the desert, I never feel clean. The children look like the have put powder on their faces because of the dust turning them white. Men with once black hair now have grey. One of our cleaners shaved his head yesterday and when asked why, he said the dust was turning it white, and it was. My house is in a constant state of dirtiness. I had it cleaned today and had my mosquito net washed. It was turning brown. Coming home to a dusted, clean place made my day. It wasn’t the easiest thing for me when I hired someone to come clean my place once a week. I figured I could do it and be fine. With the long hours and constant need for dusting, it’s been a huge help. Also, it helps the community and families to hire someone so I don’t mind anymore.

I feel like there has been a plague of crickets. When I say crickets, I don’t mean the cute, tiny Jiminy Cricket types. I guess these could dress in a suite and top hat and carry a cane because they are so big! They are everywhere and fly around right outside my door under my light. At night it sounds like someone is knocking because they run into the metal door.

Another answer to prayer is that the container with supplies arrived yesterday. It’s like Christmas when a container arrives. I was helping sort out what belonged to us and what belonged to the leprosy hospital we share a compound with. I was excited for our supplies but almost even more so for them. The guy unloading for their side spoke English so we chatted and when the magnesium sulfate was pulled out he got so excited. This is used for pre-eclampsia in pregnant women and he said they had been out of it for so long. This and other drugs made him so excited. It was great to share in his joy. It’s not an easy place to be when you can only get so much in the country. They really do the best with what they have and they do it well.

Before Dr. Steve left here he shared a story with us a few times. It has stuck with me since. It’s from 2 Samuel chapter 24. I won’t type it all here because it’s too long but I encourage you to read it.

…I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.

2 Samuel 24:24

A thought to leave you with…

(*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the patients.)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Jikka Ukku

I apologize for the long delay in blogging. A lot has happened since I last posted and I honestly didn’t know exactly how to write about what was happening since there was so much uncertainty going on. Since the last update we have had to stop with surgeries all together. The decision was made to slow things down after realizing we needed more anesthesia help. For the safety of the women, the best thing to do was to pause until we found more help. Last Sunday we discharged the last woman out of the ward until we could find more anesthesia help. It was an extremely hard decision to make to close the ward for now. I haven’t slowed down though. The past week was spent training the new nurses we had recently hired and I have been busy working on writing policies and translating them into French. Google translate has been my close friend. Close when the internet is working which has not been very constant recently. A good friend from the Mercy Ship has been here for the last two weeks to help out. She came to help on the ward but since we don’t have any patients she has been busy working on the training of the nurses. It’s been great having her here for the nurses, but also to have another friend around. She brought lots of chocolate and letters from friends on the ship. It’s been a great encouragement having her here. Thanks Karin!

This Thursday we have an anesthesia provider coming for a week! I can’t wait. I’m excited to finally be nursing again and to see these new nurses in action. Most importantly though, I’m excited to finally be doing surgeries once again. Our surgical list is getting longer by the week.

Other things which have been happening… yesterday I killed two scorpions. Snakes have been a frequent topic of conversation lately. I have yet to see one which I thank God for daily. My neighbor killed one outside my place last week. A puff adder was found in another neighbors home, and the viper I blogged about in the past have been enough snake stories for me. I’m sure more are to come but I still pray I won’t see one.

I am continuing my hausa lessons. Sannu sannu. Yesterday we were learning about money. Wow. I am ok with up to about 50f but beyond that I am completely lost. I am getting better at counting numbers, but counting money is completely different. Everything is in multiples of five. For example, the number 6 is shidda. The number 30 is talatin. If you want to say something is 30f, you would say it costs dala shidda. 5 times six is 30. Ok, that is doable. Lets say something costs 3750f though. That would be jikka ukku da rabi da hamsin. Jikka ukku is 3000 since jikka means thousand and ukku is three. Da rabi means half of 1000 (500) and da hamsin means 250. So you have jikka ukku (3000) da rabi (500) da hamsin (250). So you add the 500+250 to=750. I failed pre-cal in college. After class yesterday I was thinking how Grandma Daphne would have loved this. Math is not my strong suite. 9750f is jikka goma ba hamsin. Ba means minus. Jikka goma is 10,000f-hamsin (250)=9750f. Oy. Please continue to pray for my hausa skills.