This week Navice and I will be visiting the homes of the orphans we have registered within Serenje. There are others in the surrounding areas of Teta and Kamena, but for now we're just visiting here in town. One purpose is to survey their living situation. All orphans are living with a caretaker who may or may not be in a good position to watch over them. We want to make sure that each child is safe and being provided with basic needs. We are also gathering information on their education: are they in school, what grade are they in, or should they be in, do they need supplies, etc. Chris Ihle from Brookside has put together a plan to hopefully put all the orphans into school, so I hope to make some progress to get the ball rolling with that program in my last month.
Also, as many of you know, Dr. Brian Finley from Brookside has come for a couple weeks with another doctor and nurse (Abbie and Karin). They've only been here a short time, but they are already making an impact. I took Brian to a few of our workers' houses to check them out. One was Clint and his wife (they are the ones I wrote about who lost their child). We also visited a worker and his wife who just successfully had a baby. She delivered from home, which is not uncommon here, and they also let me name the baby...crazy! It was really encouraging to watch Brian, to see his gift at work. It amazed me to see him be able to understand the situation and give them answers and comfort. It also reminded me once again of our amazing privilege in America to have such a high quality of medical attention.
I've gathered our medical visitors' thoughts on the hospital here. It's severely understaffed and limited in its capabilities, but the staff is doing a great job for what they have. It's probably not what a lot of people think of...a grass hut with no medical knowledge. But it is a decently functioning hospital with intelligent staff. The unfortunate part is that they are very limited and crippled by circumstances. They've seen quite a bit of death in their short time here. I hate to share this...but one of the orphans passed away last week, cause unknown. That's hard to think about, but it's simply just the reality here, and you can't ignore reality.
Well, I can't end on such a depressing note. There are many amazing things happening here too. Abbie typed up something to share with you all, I hope you like it:
Journey to Serenje
My name is Abigail Ihrke. I am Family Practice Doctor and I am currently working with Dr. Brian Finley and Karin Ashley (a nurse) here in Serenje Zambia. Jack has graciously allowed me to tell you a bit of my story on his blog!
My journey to Serenje started many years ago. I have wanted to be a missionary ever since I was very young but it wasn’t until I was freshman in high school that I went with John Alford and Brookside Church to Tampico Mexico. I still remember very clearly my first glimpse of true poverty. I don’t even have to close my eyes to see the look on the little girls face as she looked at me through the broken walls of her house. I could feel her asking for something…for food, for clothing, for hope that her future would be better. And my heart was broken. I cried out to the Lord asking what my role would be. I wanted to give something to make the gospel a reality. I could hear her say “yes, Jesus loves you- you are a rich white American, how do I know that he loves me?” At that point in time I had no answer to her question.
Through out high school this question was forever in the back of my mind. What would my role on the mission field be? In AP biology I started to think that I could be a doctor- this would be a concrete way to show Gods love to a hurting and dying world. Through college I pursued a degree that would prepare me for medical school and traveled to different mission stations to see if I liked missionary medicine- I loved it!
Fourteen years and many long hours of study later I am a doctor and spending three short weeks in Serenje, Zambia. I am continually impressed with the beauty of the African people and the vastness of the medical and spiritual need. Serenje has a thriving body of Christ, but the church is still dyeing of malaria, HIV and anemia. It is not an easy thing to do medicine here. As much as I know that many babies will not survive and that childbirth is a dangerous thing, the reality is still heart breaking. Regardless of the emotional cost, I am blessed to serve here. I look forward to the time when I can be full time in Africa!
Thank you to Brookside for allowing me to go on a mission trip as a high school student. I have no words to express the impact that trip had on my life! Blessings to you as you continue to support Pastor Navice and his work here. If you want to hear more medical news, I am also blogging at daktariihrke.blogspot.com. I look forward to sharing more of my experience with you!
That's cool to hear...and God is doing plenty of amazing things over here too. Sorry this is such a long post and it's with no pictures, but I promise you pictures galore coming soon. Thanks for your love and support!