Liberia is hard. It is hard on the heart, mind, and body. But one thing I have learned this week is that we must mend it all and be strong because their are children who need us at our best. Who need us to see how to help and not dwell on the problem at hand and how sad and hard we think it is. It’s been a pretty tough week, but we signed up for this. We signed up to be here full time with children who lack in EVERY single basic category of survival. They lack food, they lack medical help, they lack family, they lack every single thing that you and I get with a snap of a finger. I have lived my ENTIRE life knowing that if anything happened I had people, I had a place to go, I had free access to medical care, I had grocery stores lining the streets of my small town, I had access to money, I had or could have a job, and I had the love of a family. I still have all of that, I almost say those things shaking my head in shame, that I have NEVER had to go without.
I know it won’t come as a shock to some but maybe it will, there are many many many people in this world that don’t have any of that. When they walk into a clinic in the poorest country in the world they are asked to pay before they are seen. Money that they don’t have. I complained so much about our high insurance premium, and I do think that our healthcare system is a little out of whack in the States, but guess what, I knew I could walk into ANY hospital and they could NOT legally DENY me care. It’s the reason we have programs like Medicaid and Medicare in our country. To help those in need that cannot afford health insurance. Unfortunately, they don’t have that here. They don’t have health insurance, period.
We have been faced with some hardships this week as one of the kids in the Margibi orphanage is very sick. Zach was traveling to Margibi Thursday to finish documenting kids and complete paperwork for the Best Version Project when his day got a little side tracked. He was told there was a young girl who is new to the orphanage at a clinic. She had been at the clinic since Sunday. She was very sick and the reason they brought her to the clinic is because she was convulsing at the orphanage.
Zach and Mulbah went to the clinic to see the little girl and assess the situation. Upon entering the clinic there were 8-10 beds in one big open room, some had women sitting next to them which he assumed were the Moms of these children. Holding their hands and sitting by their side. One little girl’s bed caught his eye, and it was who they had come to see.
Little Theresa didn’t have a mother sitting beside her bed, she was laying there limp, and so tiny. She looked like she may be 3 or 4 years old with her size but the Mother of the orphanage says she is 6. At this point you are absorbing everything going on around you and just trying to piece together what needs to be done next. He noticed another little girl, she had an incision on her stomach that looked large (it was covered in medical tape but she was not stitched), the clinic staff was telling her mother they could not do what they needed to do and it was going to be $20 to transport her to JFK hospital in Monrovia. $20 is a months salary for some people here, especially a mother, who most likely tends to her children, cooks, and sells goods in the market when she can make it there. These are the kinds of problems you see. A little girl with an open incision, at risk of all sorts of infection, but no money no help. Money before anything, because the majority is living in poverty here. At this point Zach was having this feeling that Theresa needed to be transported to another hospital in the city. Somewhere they were more equipped to handle her condition, it was becoming more clear that this wasn’t just a simple malaria case. It was definitely more severe than that. The clinic did not want Theresa to be discharged, you could tell that they truly cared about her well being but I don’t know if they knew the extent in which her sickness was going just hours later. Finally she was released from the clinic and they were on their way to ELWA hospital. They got there and as they were going back to the ER she had another seizure. Seizures are scary, and it is a tough thing to watch a person go through. Zach has seen our nephew Ethan have a few so he was able to remain calm while a Peace Corp helper came over to assist and get her on a bed and to the ER. Zach was so impressed by this Peace Corp volunteer. They are amazing people for doing what they are doing in this country and around the world.
Some time went by and they had the diagnosis of cerebral malaria. This is the worst type of malaria you can get because it affects your brain. It can cause lasting effects if treatment is provided to late, and will likely end fatally if not treated at all. Who knows if little Theresa would have made it one more night at the Margibi clinic, the ELWA doctors suspected not. God always has a way of showing us His timing. Zach was going to Margibi to work at the orphanage and document kids. He had no idea about Theresa. What if we would have waited until Friday?
Theresa is getting stronger day by day. She has no been at ELWA Hospital since Thursday afternoon and it is Sunday. She has had some lab work done that will hopefully present no issues. She has opened her eyes a bit and they have been able to feed her with a feeding tube and get her some much needed nutrients. She has responded to some stimulus also. These are all very very good signs. We are so grateful and pray she makes a full recovery.
God continues to present us with trials in Liberia. We came here to develop a sponsorship program for these children but since we’ve been here we feel like we have been carrying them back and forth from clinics and hospitals. But, hold on, that is a good thing. They are getting the help and medical care they rightfully deserve. They are not left at a clinic in Margibi that does not have the tools needed to treat a very sick patient to essentially die. They are not left with infections that are so easily treatable they just need to be transported to somewhere that CAN treat them. THEY are NOT FORGOTTEN.
Please show them they are not forgotten. Help us to help them. Learn more about children oceans away just by reading or doing more research into what they go through.
Even after our time here is finished, I will NEVER forget what I have seen. I will try not to take things for granted that I have seen people lack here. I will try and be cognizant of my use of natural resources and do a better job of preserving our Earth because I have seen firsthand what true waste without a place to go has done to a beautiful country. I will never take my family for granted. We are so lucky to have been born in the place we were. To have been born in a place where we know we are taken care of. A place of abundance.
Zach always tells me that when he is in a situation with a sick or hungry child that needs care he sees our children. Right there in front of him. I try to do the same thing, and it is the hardest thing to do. I envision my child on that cot pushed to the corner in the Margibi clinic. My Brady. My Isaac. My Max. I imagine their frail body that has not seen a piece of food in days because of the 104+ fever that has been wrecking that little body. I imagine that if the time came and they realized what was happening how scared they would be. After all, they are children. Maybe we all need to do the hard things sometimes, just to make us realize how extremely lucky we are. We need to be wrecked to know that we are still alive, that it is up to us to do the helping now.
The Best Version Project will be ready soon. The first children will be loaded into the system ready for a more personal sponsorship program. We hope that you will come alongside Orphan Aid, Liberia and sponsor one of these beautiful souls so that they can be fed, they can learn and be educated, they can receive medical care that is above the average of what you would see out in the bush of Liberia, and finally so that they can see the love of Jesus and learn how much He loves them by hearing and learning the Gospel. We cannot wait to share more of these children with you.
On another note, this week in Liberia has been pretty laid back. There was 2 National Holidays on Wednesday and Friday so the week has been a little out of whack and crazy with the boys not having school those two days. We ventured to Hope in Christ orphanage Wednesday to check on the children, the Mother, and the care takers there. It is one that is much closer to Monrovia. We picked up some soccer balls on the way in Red Light Market, and I don’t think I could possibly begin to explain the hustle and bustle of this place. It’s Times Square, without the lights, concrete buildings, signs, and paved roads. So pretty much a lot of people shopping at a giant market that spans at least a mile. You pass makeshift tables with the food and goods they are selling; raw chicken, fish, peppers that would make your eyes pop out of your head. Navigating through the crowds was a little unnerving for this momma, and I had to close my eyes a lot, but the boys loved it. Who knew you could honk a horn a thousand times and it doesn’t phase a soul around you. In the States someone would have definitely given us the middle finger.
When we arrived at Hope in Christ the kids came to greet us, I always love when they don’t know we are coming. They get so excited and it’s like a surprise! We played and hung with them, we brought our rocket, the boys gave them their soccer balls (that will be popped and warn when we go back bc they will play with them every day, all day), and I read the the Easter Story out of My First Bible book we brought from home. They all listened intently and some told me their favorite parts when I asked them at the end. They are bright children, and they have some really neat and positive things going on at their place. The mattresses we dropped off in October are still in great condition, too! That is always a good thing to see!
When our kids leave an orphanage I am just so tickled at their appearance. They are so blood red from the heat, sweaty, and dirty from all the dust that I spend about 30 minutes wiping them down in the car afterward. It makes my heart happy to know they have so much fun serving even though they probably don’t see it that way. To them, it’s just another time to be a kid and to play with other kids. It will never get old watching that.
After this week we are truly looking so forward to my moms visit. She will be here Friday and we have a weeks worth of things to do with her. It will be a nice breath of fresh air and our cups will be filled when she is here. Maybe Zach and I will even get to have a date night! We are really looking forward to it. Please pray for her travel and that she gets to us safely and with lots and lots of energy!! Haha!
Our family is doing well! The twins have had coughs but it comes with the dry season here. The dust, exhaust fumes, etc. don’t help but it’s not incessant and seems to be getting better. Between all of the boys I don’t think we have gone one week without someone having stomach issues for at least 24 hours. We have just chalked it up to the water here and maybe ingesting it in shower or somewhere. Its just impossible to try and avoid it, but we do the best we can. Zach and I have been good! Which is great because if we are down than that seems to have a trickle effect on everyone else. If you have been praying for our health we are truly thankful for those prayers and believe they are working. We know we are going to get sick here and there but we have been very lucky so far.
Please continue to pray for little Theresa. Please pray for every child around the world who lacks access to medical help. Those are the children I have on my mind and heart this week and for weeks to come.
We love you all so much. Thank you for coming on this journey with us.
“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” -Mother Teresa