Sunday, 12 March 2017

baby girl

I've just spent 2 wonderful weeks in Madagascar. Truly fabulous. My task was to take a close look at some of the projects that we were a part of these last couple of years and to see how they are doing. What went well? What didn't go so well? And what could we do better next time? I prayed that these questions would be wrapped in humility and love. That their delivery would go deeper than the reports that would be produced and that somehow some more love would be deposited in this sweet country. It's rich culture and breath taking landscape is a reflection of some of the beautiful hearts I have met. The trip was not without its challenges and cultural mountains to climb. In 2 weeks I think I slept (or tried to) in 9 different beds and I took 11 flights from beginning to end. It was a privilege and a joy to see many successes, but one of my biggest take homes.... I just wish we could do more. Obedience is one thing. Not turning a blind eye to the need is commendable. True. But the need is vast and we are a drop in the ocean. So we keep on dripping and learning along the way....

Madagascar by air... for some reason the photos simply won't behave and sit right... I'm sorry....

We were a team of 3 and our plan was to visit 16 of the Regional Hospitals throughout the country in which we’d given some training during our 2 years in Madagascar. I was there to launch these evaluation efforts and they will continue for 2 weeks after I leave. All of our medical capacity building efforts share one common goal; to make surgery safer and we wanted to see how we had done. Five billion (yes, five billion) people lack access to safe, affordable and timely surgery worldwide and we are trying to do at least something to set the balance right.  Getting around Madagascar is no small feat, so we partnered together with MAF, who expertly deposited us in places it would otherwise take days to reach. In one of our hospital visits, I had the privilege of watching new life being born….

Oh baby girl, I doubt you will ever know how things were on the day you were born. I wish you could have seen your mum. She was so brave. I saw her wheeled into the operating room. She didn't even look like she was in labour to me; she lay flat and still and with her dark brown eyes wide open. I can't imagine the fear in her heart. I tried to let my eyes lock with hers - to let her know that the white girl was no threat - but I'm not sure what she was thinking. You'd been trying to get out for many hours and so they decided to do a C-section. I'm glad you were in the right place - it's not easy to get to a hospital in your country and just a few days before, I heard of someone being carried on foot 87Kms to reach surgical care. 87Kms. On foot. It's difficult to build roads with so many obstacles in the way – not just physical, but everything else too.

Your mum lay waiting in the operating room, exposed, vulnerable and alone. I was wondering why the wait was so long and then it dawned on me; your family must have been busy out there gathering money to buy the supplies for the surgery to start. Finally, a brown cardboard box arrived containing some needles and fluids and other supplies that the team would need to keep you and your mum safe. The anaesthetist prepared to give your mum a spinal anesthetic. She gracefully bent forward and let him do his thing. Not a whimper. Not even a wince of her face. She was so brave. I wanted to hold her hand and let her know everything was going to be alright. But the blue drape hid her face and, as she lay behind it, the team began the task of preparing for your escape.

Your mums belly looked pretty small tucked inside her petite Malagasy figure, but you popped out a healthy size and you even had a few folds of skin wrapping a little flesh; your mum had been feeding you well. What a shock for you to feel the cool air and bright lights. I didn't hear anything, but your legs kicked and your hand gave a wave. After a few seconds you gave a cry and I could feel the relief in the room. All was well with you, precious girl. A midwife whipped you away whilst the team closed up your emergency exit. You'd made it.

I went to your mum and told her she was brave and gave my congratulations. I'm not sure she understood what I said but I hope she could tell from my eyes that it was a message of love. I hate to think I added to her fear. I was simply there to observe the team in action and they did great. I saw some equipment that we had donated in use. It measured your mum’s oxygen levels and helped the team get any warning signs of things going wrong. We hadn’t done much, but we hoped to make surgery safer - for you, precious baby girl.

You were born on International women's day and as I sat pondering the privilege of witnessing your first few miracle breaths of life, I prayed over you. I prayed that you would be a woman of courage. A woman who would stand for justice. A woman who would be instrumental in changing health care in your country. It's not all down to you, baby girl, don't worry. But I pray that you will grow up and one day acknowledge the bravery of your sweet mother that day and be inspired, just as I was. She could have died, you know - and she was all alone. She just braved it all.

And meanwhile a storm was brewing. Not only have you been born into a culture where accessing health care is so impossible and one where even the pesky mosquitos are out to get you, but one where tropical storms hit too. We drove away from the hospital with a cyclone circling and watched as the looming clouds descended. As we drove, we saw rice fields drowning under inches of rain and we heard stories of destroyed homes and lives lost.

Oh baby girl, this isn't fair for you. What if we could trade places? What if I could be the one under the leaking roof and you be the one tucked up in my cosy guest house? I don't know why it should be me and not you. I'm sorry. But let's both be brave, OK? Let's both stand for what's right. Let's be brave when it feels scary. Let's be women who know that they are beautifully and wonderfully made and walk in the confidence of that. Let's remember that we were created for a purpose. Let's not be defeated - we've each got battles, baby girl. Some people will be kind and others will simply try to make us small, but let’s embrace God’s empowering grace and stand to fight and let Him work it altogether for His glory. We will have bruises, no doubt, and likely some scars. But we will fight for justice, OK? There will be no haves and have nots. We will dream big and we will call heaven down to earth and encourage others to do the same. OK?

I can’t wait to hear your stories. May justice reign and beauty transcend all the brokenness in-between.

Love always, KWW