The Hospital’s One Year Anniversary

The band

Yesterday we celebrated the one-year anniversary of the CURE hospital here in Niger. We had a pretty regular workday, and then in the evening everyone came (with their families) and we had a big party. It was a lot of fun, there was a band from a local church that played music (they had a lot of horns and only one volume setting – loud!), and a theatrical troupe came in and did a few skits. Then Leron Lehman, our executive director, gave a short speech and then we ate. It was a fun event, and all the patients got to come and participate as well. It really felt like a family affair.

Everyone got dressed up really fancy

One of the patients

Leron and Samna (head of human resources)

Even though it is only one year old, this hospital has already made a huge difference in the lives of so many people here. Leron told us that in the past year the hospital has done around 400 surgeries, and over 1,000 consultations. That is quite an accomplishment for our little hospital, and even though I have only been here for two weeks of that first year, I am proud to be a part of it.

The crowd

Over the years I have learned that in Africa, a testimony goes a long way. To be a witness to something, and to give a first-hand account is a big deal, and carries a lot of weight. In French they say “Je suis témoin!” and if you say that, people usually believe what you say. I was reminded of this when the theatrical troupe came and did a skit they wrote specifically for CURE’s anniversary.

It started with a lady who came with her child to the CURE hospital to see the doctor. She brought her son, and was very happy when she found out that he would be treated even though she could not pay for the treatment. But then they asked her what was wrong with her son, and she said he has diarrhea. The doctor told her that, unfortunately, the CURE hospital does not treat patients with diarrhea. Then, the woman got very angry.

She said, “This is because I am Muslim and you are a Christian hospital right?”

The doctor said, “No, we treat everyone, regardless of their religion, ethnicity or gender. The problem is, we are a specialized hospital, and we mostly treat patients with specific conditions, like club foot, burns, or cleft lip.”

At this point, someone from the crowd (one of the other actors) jumped up and said, “Yes! I can testify! My child had clubfoot and the CURE hospital fixed them and made their feet straight! Now my child can walk normally!”

Another person jumped up and said, “It is true, I am a witness! My child was burned all over; he couldn’t even lift his arm. The hospital healed him and now he can go and work.”

After each person’s testimony, the crowd applauded, and finally, the woman said, “Ok, now I understand. Even though you cannot treat my child, I am happy that you are here and doing such good things. I will take my child to another clinic.”

The skit

It was a great little piece, both funny and educational, and very linked to the local culture. When we went to Uganda a couple of years ago with the youth from our church, I remember that testimony was one of the recurring themes. That trip inspired a poem that I sort of saw as my testimony of what I had seen there. So it is a few years old, and about Uganda, not Niger, but I thought I would share it here:

Let me tell you about the things I’ve seen, in a land so green,
With dirt floors, where the hearts stay clean.
Hear the words that I speak, I have come to bear witness,
I have seen a land where people bear the burden of sickness.
The killer HIV spreads mass hysteria,
Distressed by dysentery, hepatitis and malaria.
The rain pours down and the sky fills with thunder,
The roads flood with mud and people live with hunger.
Like in Joseph’s dream, the cattle stay skinny and boney,
And every day is a battle, this is my testimony.

Let me tell you about the things I’ve seen, in a land so green,
Where rivers run red from Idi Amin.
No toys for girls and boys, so they play with rocks,
Flip flops, no shoes, so they don’t wear socks.
And no alibi for those who shed many tears,
When people die, but never lift a finger for their peers.
Your heart breaks one minute, the next your flooded with endorphins,
In a land where war and sickness have left widows and orphans.
I never lie, you can ask the people who know me,
They can testify and this is my testimony.

Let me tell you about the things I’ve seen, in a land so green,
Where you’re lucky to get some rice and beans.
We spend half our time stressed thinking about the things we have,
Making sure it’s secure, instead of being glad.
The other half we spend, thinking about the things we need,
When we are blessed beyond belief, and the rest is just greed.
Why run around chasing all material gain,
When you can relax and enjoy sugar cane?
All that stuff you strive for is really fake and phony,
You don’t need half of it, this is my testimony.

This entry was posted in Niger, poems and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Hospital’s One Year Anniversary

  1. Tamira says:

    Great to celebrate and be a part of a wonderful hospital /family.
    Keep spreading the word. I’m expecting a great rhyme about the hospital soon!
    Keep testifying

  2. Annika says:

    Wow, awesome blog. The poem gave me goosebumps!

  3. Tamira Korn says:

    This is from Grand-Ma Michelle: You are very gifted and I loved your poem. It really expresses a lot of pain that people go through. It was good talking to you on the phone.

  4. Tamira Korn says:

    when was this “never lie” myth born? Dad
    Ou est-ce-que je mente?

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