This last week has been crazy (in a good way), and that is, at least partially, why we have been slacking with the blog posts. We had a medical team come to the hospital to run the cleft lip and palate camp, and it was a great success. Over 30 kids came from Maradi and Tessaoua, two towns east of Niamey, deep in Hausaland. Some of them came with their parents or grandparents, but quite of few of them were brought by a group of nurses that work for another NGO that we partner with, and it was really impressive to see 6 or 7 year old kids, thousands of kilometers away from their families, undergoing surgeries surrounded by strangers, and still having a great attitude.
We had a number of volunteers come to help on the medical side of things, but we also had a lot that came to play with the kids and hang out with them, and that was really a huge help. They loved doing artwork, playing games (duck duck goose was wildly popular), blowing bubbles etc. So thanks to everyone who came and helped – the impact you had on these kids was huge.
A few highlights:
– Playing a game of soccer with the kids out on our field. We even gave them uniforms and they loved it.
– Seeing our chapel transformed into a dormitory. The hospital was so full that we brought in mats and had some of the patients and their guardians sleeping in our chapel. No room in the Inn!
– Seeing Julie do some more art therapy with the kids. Since it was such a big group, it was kind of hectic at times, but she loved it and so did they.
– Seeing the kids come out of the operating room with transformed faces. This never ceases to amaze me.
I also enjoyed doing interviews with the parents and grandparents, getting to know them better and learning where they are coming from. They had some great stories to tell, and they started opening up a lot once we asked about them and showed interest in them. I know some of what they said was lost in translation (we went through two or three levels of translation – either Hausa to French, or Djerma to Hausa to French!), but their personalities really came through, and it was really fun to spend time with them.
One grandmother came with her grandson, and this was actually their second time at the CURE hospital. They came a few months ago, and he was going to be operated on, but then he got TB, so his surgery had to be rescheduled so he could be sent away for treatment. So they took him away, treated the TB, and then they came back. He had his operation this week, and now they are on their way home. The amazing thing is that they were in Niamey for 3 months, and they have not contacted anyone back home in all that time! They don’t have a phone, and anyway there is no one to call in their village. The poor parents must be going crazy! But the grandmother told us that when she first saw her grandson after the operation, she started singing with joy. She said she cannot wait to get home, for his parents (and everyone in the village) to see what he looks like now.
Another man, who came with his son, told us that when he met with the CURE team (we sent a group out about a month ago to try and find potential patients), they told him to come to the hospital in Niamey in 33 days. They don’t really use calendars in the bush – telling him to arrive Dec. 7th wouldn’t have meant anything to him. So he started counting down the days. He even came a few days early, just to make sure he was on time.
It’s amazing to me how much determination people here have. They really are inspiring and it makes me so happy that we were able to help them in such an important way. They came from so far and were so pleased with the results and they all promised to help spread the word about the CURE hospital. But really, the best publicity we have are the new smiles on the kid’s faces.