Wednesday, February 12, 2014

First week at Nyankunde

     I'm sure many of you are wondering how things are going here. Well, on the whole, pretty good. I arrived Monday after a short flight from Entebbe to Bunia, then a 1.5 hr drive the last 20 km from Bunia to Nyankunde. I remember most of it, but there are things coming back to me that I realized I was a little too dazed and jet lagged to remember well at the time.
    At the airport in Entebbe I met up with Kimiko Sugimoto, a surgeon from the US who lived at Nyankunde for a few years as a child (her dad is a missionary surgeon). Kimiko is about the same age as me, and we are sharing a house here in Nyankunde. It's been fun getting to know her and share the work load at the hospital, and learn from her as we work. She's also been sharing with us what various buildings here once were, as we walk around some of the empty shells of houses that are here.
     CME Nyankunde used to be a very large, thriving mission hospital. However, in September 2002, the surrounding tribal warfare came to the hospital grounds of Nyankunde itself. (read more here) Many were killed, and hospital was ransacked and destroyed. About 10 years ago, a few returned to the hospital and found the place buried in thick grass and brush. Slowly, they cleared things out and the hospital was re-opened in 2005. Work has continued ever since to slowly re-establish what was lost. Samaritan's Purse has helped tremendously with rebuilding the hospital, including the construction of a new surgical suite and ICU. The hospital is staffed mainly by Congolese doctors and nurses. Drs Warren and Lindsey Cooper are the only ex-patriot (foreign) doctors here long term.
     Tuesday we jumped right in to work. I've been able to assist on a few contracture releases/skin grafts (all were people who developed these after suffering from burns), a post-hysterectomy following complications of a c-section done elsewhere (she needs prayers!), and a few other cases. I've also been brushing up on my ultrasound knowledge.
      The weather here has been nice and warm-in the 70's most days, but cool in the evening and early am. Much better than the -15 degrees we've been having in the US! While the snow is fun for sledding, I much prefer to be able to get out and walk around in short sleeves! The hospital is situated on side of a 'mountain' (not sure if it is technically a mountain, or just a large hill), so I've been getting some exercise going to and from work, as well as exploring the hospital compound. The guest house here is quite nice. There are three bedrooms and a nice living area and kitchen. I can even get a hot shower!! What a blessing!!
     A few things I could use some prayer on:

  • Going to bed at a decent time so I get enough sleep. I tend to be a night owl, which doesn't work well when one has to get up early. 
  • Humility to state what I do and don't know.
  • To be able to deal properly with feelings of insufficiency. There is so much to learn, and so many times I don't and won't be able to know the answers. It's easy to feel one isn't enough, doesn't know enough, can't do enough. 
Here are a few pictures from my first week here:
View of Lake Victoria as we left Entebbe

Lake Albert (on the border between Uganda and DR Congo)

Where I'm staying. See all the flowers? I'm so happy!

One of the houses that is being renovated. The house I'm in used to be like this.

The swimming pool. Anyone want to jump in?

The soccer field and some of the housing for staff. Notice the fields on the hill in the background.
How would you like to farm that? 
Warren, Lindsey and Kimiko.
At the market
Some of the legumes one can purchase at the market.
Kimiko buying green coffee beans for us to roast.
Fabric I bought at the market.
Another piece of fabric I purchased.

The nursing school.