Day 4

PictureToday was our first full day of clinic in Bole, one of the many neighborhoods of Addis Ababa.  To get to our clinic site, we traveled by van over bumpy, sometimes unpaved roads, our driver artfully dodging pedestrians, animals, and oncoming traffic with remarkable finesse.  On our way, we dropped off two of our team members, Andrew and Carolyn, at the SIM World Missions office, where they spent the morning in fellowship with some of the beneficiaries/recipients of the SIM Program.  There, Andrew shared his testimony of faith while Carolyn led morning devotion. 

Clinic good ChongThe rest of us arrived at clinic at 9AM where we were greeted with two long rows of seated patients in a small, enclosed outdoor lawn.   These patients, roughly forty in total, had all arrived early, eagerly waiting to be seen.   The clinic grounds consisted of three small rooms made of concrete, one of which served as a staff room, another of which contained a bed with various supplies, and the last of which served as the doctors’ station, containing four sets of plastic tables and chairs for George, Chong, Cindy, and Anne to interview and examine their patients.  Space was very limited, and privacy very much a challenge. 

PictureThrough incredible team work and the help of our SIM hosts and translators, we were able to see nearly 90 patients today!  Many of these patients were HIV positive.  Those who were not came in with daunting lists of physical complaints and illnesses, ranging anywhere from non-specific complaints of general malaise, muscle weakness/pain, headache, cough, and abdominal pain to conjunctivitis, urinary tract infections, head/body lice, fungal infection, and tuberculosis.  All were poor, many illiterate, and others considered outcasts by family, friends, and/or society.  On site, we were able to perform very basic lab tests and referred patients out for all other diagnostic tests, such as imaging.  Jasmine, our pharmacist, worked with great efficiency alongside our SIM partner and nurse, Ajitsu, to dispense medications that our team had brought from the states. 

Our team of doctors struggled to provide the best care they could in the face of enormous resource limitations.  They were heartbroken to see the tremendous need and poverty of our patients, and at times, frustrated by their inability to provide the kind of medical care that we so easily take for granted back at home.  George encountered a young woman in her thirties who presented with septic joint of her right knee.  Unable to provide her IV antibiotics, we sent her off with a course of oral antibiotics instead, knowing full well that this is sub-optimal treatment for her illness.  Cindy saw a young HIV positive woman who presented with right lower quadrant pain and on pelvic exam, a tender abdomen, cervical motion tenderness and vaginal bleeding.  Unable to determine the source of her bleed, we treated her for presumed pelvic inflammatory disease with antibiotics and sent her off for pelvic imaging and a referral back to her gynecologist and surgeon, with hopes that she did not need more emergent care.

The physical and emotional burdens that our patients carried were palpable. 

PictureOne of my most memorable patients of the day was a young male with HIV who did not seek treatment until he had become blind in both eyes from CMV retinitis.  After being placed on anti-retroviral treatment for a year, he was able to restore most of the vision in his right eye, but developed a cataract and remained blind in his left eye.  Because of his visual impairment, he could no longer work as a driver and was desperate to seek a cure that would restore vision in both of his eyes.  Gancyclovir is not available in Ethiopia and our team did not have this medication in our formulary, so the best we could do was give him a course of acyclovir.  Further, despite government-funded medical care for HIV patients in Ethiopia, there was no telling how long this patient would have to wait before he could undergo cataract surgery; and our medical team certainly did not have the capacity to provide such treatment. 

The patient managed to maintain his composure throughout the entire clinic visit, with near stoicism, until the very end when he allowed me to pray for him.  As I closed in prayer, there was a long silence.  The man slowly lifted his head, only to reveal tears running down his face.  He began to weep openly - loud, choking sobs escaping from his mouth as he placed his head in both hands.  My heart broke into pieces at the sight of this man in such deep despair.  What came out of this man’s mouth next startled me and pierced my heart.  “Praise God,” he said over and over “for God is truly good to me.”  

Praise God indeed, for the work he has done and continues to do in the hearts of the poor, the sick, and the needy…as well as for those like me who have the extraordinary privilege of having crossed paths with such blessed, faithful individuals.


PictureToday has been so exciting!  We arose to the shining sun and the call to prayer.  As we ate a wonderful breakfast, the Hope school children began arriving.  Their uniforms are marvelous – purple and red.  They waved at us as they greeted one another and lined up for breakfast.

We enjoyed our first clinic day at the Full Gospel Church.  During the day we screened 75 children and experienced the joy of their parents and grandparents who trusted us to examine them.  We were gratified that our screening organizational plans worked well.  It was so joyful to see the proud parents bringing their children to be examined.  We were so gratified to see that the public health teaching from a year ago has been a success, and we continued teaching basic hygiene and other public health practices.  The children are so healthy – very few have complaints.  In general, they are small for their ages but are well-nourished, which is a wonderful surprise.

Puppet Show with Frank and RaquelThe puppet shows were a huge success – so successful that the children tried to get examined very fast so they could go to see Daniel and the lion’s den.   The children were mesmerized by Frank and Raquel “in the den.”  The Evangecube was a hit with one little girl who asked Raquel many questions about God  The Cube brings Jesus to life in a very real way, and Raquel was able to lead the little girl into a relationship with Jesus.  One of the pastors asked for one of the Cubes so that he could train his Sunday School teachers.  He commented that the Cube presents the Gospel in a much simpler way than other tools they have used.  The coloring sheets with Bible stories were a huge success also, and the stickers the children received for giving us their drops of blood were real popular.

Raquel praying with child to receive ChristOur Dessie team is having so much fun getting to know one another.  We are experiencing the joy of sharing this love and knowledge with those that we are serving.  We are so blessed and can see the impact of God in all of our lives.  We are truly enjoying His “amazing grace.”