And why are you doing this . . . ?
Joy once had a wonderful teacher who was incredulous about her call to Africa. One day, while they were performing a hysterectomy together, he asked her point blank: "Why in the world do you want to go to Africa? You cannot do any good there--the pain and the suffering are never ending, and all of your work, your entire life, will be like a drop of water in the Sahara Desert."
A drop of water . . . or a cup of water? It is all the same if we are talking about pouring it out into a wasteland of heat and sand. But then, we are not talking about a desert, we are talking about human beings . . .
|Children greeting us outside of their home in Kenya|
Look at your clock: every 90 seconds, a girl or woman dies from a complication related to pregnancy or childbirth. 99% of these deaths occur in the developing world--and the majority of these deaths occur in Africa. For every one of these tragic deaths--the death of a young woman trying to give life-- an untold number suffer from complications, the most dreaded of which is vesicovaginal fistula.
|Two teenage girls with fistula--they survived childbirth, their babies did not|
Have you ever seen a woman dying in childbirth? Here in the U.S. it is an uncommon event. We have good hospitals and a huge network of paved roads to reach them. We have highly trained people to attend births and perform surgery if needed. We have operating rooms with electricity. We have anesthesia. We have access to drugs that can stop hemorrhage and fight infection. Across the world, in countries in Sub Saharan Africa, this is not the case. There are few hospitals, and the majority of these are in major cities, which are inaccessible to most women.There are not nearly enough trained midwives, and even fewer physicians. Many of the trained personnel are in the cities--again, inaccessible to the majority of women. And then there is the problem of roads--how can a woman in labor travel to an outlying hospital without a road to travel upon? What about electricity, lack of supplies and medicines? What about malaria and HIV? What about the family she leaves behind?
|A family who delivered a healthy baby in Kenya|
"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. . . . I tell you the truth. whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."
Jesus talked about giving a cup of cold water too --not dumping it out, but giving it-- to someone in need. (see Matthew 25:34-40 and Matthew10:42)
|Joy helped teach this lovely Kenyan intern--who is now training to be a surgeon|