Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Comments on the Alaska Surgical Team by Wendy (Scarborough) Taihuttu

...A week ago we had a surgical team come to work with us from Alaska.

They stayed for two weeks operating on over forty of our patients.

(There is still many listed and waiting for another chance.) This was

a huge blessing. There has been no local surgeon on the island for a

while and even if there was our patients or our organisation could

not have afforded the surgery offered by this team. This was a time of miracles.

We worked with the local hospital and our staff were all able to

learn a lot as the team taught us so much. They were fantastic and

touched so many lives. The few weeks had alot of backup work

beforehand which was tiring but well worth it. So many people were

blessed by this team including me but at the same time it was the

hardest time I have ever had. Seeing all the patients and working

along side the Doctor was emotionally exhausting. Many of our

patients had waited months some years for surgery. These are people

with families and have come to us over and over with hope. Some of

these people I had to explain that surgery could not help them and without a miracle they would not be here much longer.

This is hard enough when we have to give news like this to maybe a

patient a week at the clinic but to be telling several patients often

friends this daily was exhausting. This was an amazing time but

requires strength. The team plans to come back yearly. This saves

lives, teaches all our staff new lessons and touches everyone. We

thank God so so much for this.

Please pray for continued strength always. Pray for those patients

who had surgery and for those who did not get surgery. Please pray

also for our local team as there are so many needs and always so much to do.

Ayu is doing well, she has settled in good and her mother has just

egreed to let her stay with us for as long as she wants. This is an

answer to prayer as Ayu loves being here, wants to stay forever and we love her.

Thank you so much for your prayers. It is really appreciated. Thank you

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

We're Back! What an excellent Trip!

The last three weeks of this projected involved bringing a surgical team from Alaska to Tobelo to work in the public hospital. The team had many difficulties obtaining the proper visa to work in Indonesia and from the other end the team in Tobelo was having a hard time optaining permission and invitations. The invitatations from the local health department never materialized until the team arrived in Indonesia. I am not sure how the team managed to get the visas without this...the first miracle.

Wendy had a long list of surgeries to perform before the team arrived. She put in a remarkable amount of work in setting up for the project.

My job was 'head gopher'... go fer this and go fer that. I was especially pleased with the benefit that my language learning efforts provided. Thanks to the Rosetta Stone computer program the language came fairly fast. Yayan the driver was particularly happy since his english was minimal. We became good friends.

Except for the airconditioning the Operating Room was in very good shape for the surgeries. It had been newly outfitted with brand new equipment including a 'never-been-used' anethesia machine . We are not sure if the hospital knows how to use it but our Anesthesiologist, Dr. Jean was very happy. The rest of the hospital was in marginal condition needing a lot of bleach and plumbing repairs. My first assignment was to fix the handwashing sinks in the ward, 5 of them required new spiggots. Maintenance on the hospital was being ignored entirely. The airconditioning in the operating room had to be repaired so that no one would drip sweat into the wound. This was accomplished only after agreeing to pay $35 for freon to recharge the condensor. It seems the hospital has no budget for repairs and upkeep.

While in the hospital, the team, under direction of Dr. Danny, performed over 40 surgeries. On the last day the team went to the Kusuri Clinic and did some additional minor operations. The Staff at the Kusuri Clinic were enthusiastic and willing to help during the whole project and we couldn't have done it with out their interpreting skills and assistance with the patients.

On one occasion we thought one of the patients would not survive the surgery. She had a cancerous tumor the size of a soccer ball weighing 6 lb . We prayed a lot for her and within a few days she was walking around and on the way to recovery.

We grew attached to our patients and to see them smile with appreciation was more than enough reward.

Special thanks to Janet who organized the whole project from start to finish... a huge task, with many difficult decisions.

Recognition is also due to Christina who was my main inspiration to run every morning at 5:30 am. She took on the role of 'coach' arranging our running schedule with 'intervals', 'ladders' and other torturous activities.

There is considerable consensis that next year we should do another surgery team, especally enthusiastic is Dr. Danny who considers this trip "just the beginning".

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Running by the light of Venus:

Every morning at 5:20 am the generator at the clinic base in Kusuri starts up and I take the wake up call to go for a little jog. The crescent moon has been like a headlight until this week when it shifted to the new moon phase and every thing went black. Now jogs are accomplished with an LED pinch light and Venus which is nearly as bright.

The pinchlight shines on a five foot snake that has just encountered the tire of a motor cycle . It was still moving so I stretched it out on the side of the road with the thought that it might recover....somehow life in whatever form is sacred and should never pass by accident.

The same thought came regarding the five inch locust laying on the side of the road. It's brilliant green body and wings were in striking contrast to the blackeness of the morning.

At 6 am the sun rises abruptly and life revels in the cool of dawn. Voices call out 'selamat pagi', the neighborhood albino man gives a nod in the passing and the day begins.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The hygiene training and filter training is over! It has been a great success and now we have begun bringing the course into the villages.
The training was given in 5 days. Biosand filter training was taught in the morning and Hygiene in the afternoon for three hours. The combined Hygiene/filter training seems to have worked very well. 26 students completed the Hygiene, while 14 of them completed the filter construction training.
Some things that worked well...
1. The most rewarding and revealing part of this experience is has been to watch the teams of students go teach it. We have visited 6 different villages with a 3 hour presentation given by our students in a sort of practicum experience. That provides some excellent understanding to us as teachers of how the teaching has sunk in.
2. Divine good fortune provided us with the very best of health workers from the YBI Clinic base here in Tobelo. As it happened the clinic has been shut down due to lack of a Doctor overseer... so all the health workers were available to do the training. Usually they are very busy. We also had all the bore team go through the training.
3. Narratives and stories were a big hit. Clean Hands - Clean heart was used in exceptional ways...with great effect. The diarrhea doll was used often.
Some critical comments:
1. Going to the village and watching the results of training brought out the 'omissions' that we as teachers should work on. We will have debriefing sessions with them to add information and correct misunderstandings. Errors are telegraphed down the teaching line.
2. 5 half-days is not enough time to do proper hygiene training. We cut some of the material short.
3. None of our material was translated. Items that should be translated are 'clean hands-clean heart' and all the stories. Technical information must be translated because it gets very difficult to teach it without a reference book for students to refer back to.
4. The right jug for 'tippy-tap' hand washing project was hard to find in the village. An alternative should be invented.
5. The long term assessment and decision making were not addressed by the students in the practicum because there was not enough time. Community Mapping should be incorporated as a means to bring about planning and long term change in a village.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Sunday February 26, 2006
We have arrived in at the Clinic at Kusuri with a minor amount of confusion with tickets etc.( see comments on 1st entry) It was raining heavily in Kao so the airport was closed. We used the long route through Ternate to get to Kusuri.
So far we have had 2 sessions with 30 students and they appear to be absorbing the hygiene training. The students are a mix of Well drillers and Health workers. It is a great combination. The interactive teaching method is very fun and holds the attention even in the afternoon heat. Robin and Galen are great to work with and we have all kept busy with preparing our lessons.
We made a visit to Duma, the site of a massacre of about 200 people in the Jihad 5 years ago. One of the survivors told his story of defending the church and then escaping... a terrifying experience to be sure.
There is so much work to do here... and so much poverty. Keep praying for us.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Welcome Everyone:

Watch here for updates and details on my trip in Indonesia. The project is from February 17 to April 19. Initially a team from Fairbanks will be teaching hygiene and fresh water filter construction. Near the end of my stay a medical team will be coming to do surgeries in the hospital.

Stay tuned. Keep praying for us and keep watching this site for updates. Post your own comments.