Mbingo Baptist Hospital: view from Mbingo Hill

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Settling In

After 2.5 months, we are finally settling in to life here at MBH (Mbingo Baptist Hospital). Work, although challenging, is more familiar, and we are becoming more comfortable with patient management. The hiking and the views have also greatly improved now that the rains have come. Sorry for the lack of posts, we've been a little busy with work, and Lindsay and Cathen have been fighting colds (I have somehow managed to stay well), so here are a few pictures to catch you up from Easter Sunday to this weekend.

Lindsay and Cathen: Easter Sunday. We are in our front yard, and Mbingo Hill is in the background. There was actually a sunrise service that took place halfway up Mbingo Hill, but the trek up began at 4:30am, and we weren't sure Cathen was up for such an endeavor. Hopefully next year we'll be able to join in the celebration. 
JR & Cathen: Easter Sunday. Mbingo Hill in the background.

The back waterfall. This is about a 90 minute hike back behind our home. There are at least 6 other waterfalls that are visible nearby, but this one is the most fun to hike to. If feeling adventurous, you can actually scramble down the embankment and wade/swim up underneath the waterfall. It is pretty awesome, but not for the faint of heart!

Lindsay and Cathen at the back waterfall. The fall is in actually in front of them from this viewpoint. 
View of MBH from on top of Mbingo Hill
Panoramic view of the back side of the valley from the top of Mbingo Hill. The hospital is about another 90 degrees to the right. The new blog photograph at the top of the page is the panoramic view from the front side of Mbingo Hill. Chuck and I hiked up this morning, leaving around 6am to try and catch the sun as it broke through the clouds. The photos might have been a little better an hour or so later, but I had to scramble back down the mountain to make it to ward rounds! 
View from the top of Mbingo Hill, looking east into the sunlight. The sunbeams are just breaking through the morning fog. 
Another photo from the top of Mbingo Hill. The mountains just ahead in the center of the backdrop are located near the entrance to the back waterfall (shown a few pictures up). Our home lies about 300 feet below the eucalyptus forest on the far right of the photo. The landscape is breathtaking, and the rains have turned this into a tropical paradise.  

On a more serious note, please pray for wisdom in caring for our patients. We have had a number of perplexing cases these past few weeks, and would appreciate your support. Thank you!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The First Two Months

These past few weeks have been busy and have ushered in some exciting changes, but at other times have seemed a little stagnant. It has taken us a while to get back to the blog, so there is a lot to catch up on.

We have been patiently waiting for the rainy season to start. Routinely, the rains begin the second week of March. However, we have been in a severe drought, with our taps often running dry, and having no water for a few days a time. More concerning are the crops that the locals have planted in anticipation of the rains - crops that provide nourishment and a livelihood for the families. However, praise be to God, the rains started yesterday. We will likely still have water shortages intermittently for the next month or so, but with the rains comes a cool breeze in the air, dissipation of the oppressive cloud of dust, and great hope for the new crops.

We have been recycling our water as best as able. This shower water was used for watering the plants.

Work has been steadily increasing. Our numbers have increased dramatically since we arrived. Our ward, which hosts 20 general pediatric beds and 6 oncology beds, is always full, and our clinic workload has tripled since we arrived. Thankfully, we have had great help during these last couple weeks of growing pains. Andrew Kim, a third year pediatrics resident from New York joined us for the past 4 weeks. He was a huge help and great fun to have on board. His patients adored him…Clinton, an 11 year old with right sided heart failure secondary to pulmonary hypertension, told his mother that Andrew was his “best friend.”  This is quite sweet, especially considering that we wanted to surround Clinton with family and best friends during the remainder of his life. There is no treatment in Africa for pulmonary hypertension (not even an option for home oxygen) and his disease will continue to progress. He was discharged home over a week ago, but has been living with his mom in the “kitchen” of the hospital because she couldn’t pay his hospital bill. Friends – you paid for his hospitalization so that he could get home to be with his family for Easter. A precious gift indeed - Thank you!!

Andrew & Clinton

The nursery is an area of great opportunity, but currently much frustration. It is perhaps the area where we can make the biggest impact, but it also needs the most help. Lack of supplies and training are making it difficult to care for premature babies; which is heartbreaking when families arrive anticipating better care because of the new pediatricians that are in town. Prayer for space, functioning incubators, appropriate fluids, and teamwork would be much appreciated.

With the coming rains, we are putting our first parcel packages to good use! We have received letters from family back home containing seeds: carrots, lettuce, peas, tomatoes; flowers; etc. We are excited to get our garden underway. In addition to a small garden around the house, we have planted some larger plants in he backyard along the dirt wall, and hope to plant banana trees soon.


Cathen is thriving. She loves her avocado, banana, sweet potato, and rice cereal. Despite the drought, fresh fruits and vegetables still seem plentiful, and she is enjoying her new foods. She is also wonderfully active – crawling, working on cruising, and babbling with the best of them. Having Isaac (Angela & Chucks’ son) next door is a huge blessing.

Cathen has been well-outfitted by her Uncle Rob. Thanks for the NCSU and Duke paraphernalia! 

Isaac & Cathen

We are having gutters installed on the house and are building a covered patio out back where we can eat meals. Construction is underway and will hopefully be completed in the next couple weeks.

The back patio is under construction, and our plastic yard furniture is ready for action...

There is plenty happening here at Mbingo. In addition to work, we are getting outside and enjoying the countryside. Specific prayer requests for the upcoming weeks:
- Continued rain
- Patience with the rationed water
- Effective teaching of residents and development of pediatrics curriculum
- Making headway in the nursery: space, equipment, and training
- Wisdom in caring for patients
- Safety and health for Cathen as she grows

Cathen and Daddy cooking
Horseback riding

The back waterfall: eating avocado with Daddy

Much love to you all! Blessings.