Constructing a pediatric ward, how one slowly catches a monkey

Tabitha-66On a random Thursday morning I am again confronted with the importance of this construction project. I am in the midst of a teaching session for the nurses on common children’s diseases. We are preparing for a specialized pediatric consultancy which will start once the construction is done. Paulin, one of the nurses, walks in with a sick child. He asks if I could please take a look; the child has come twice now and does not seem to improve. I decide, in agreement with the mother, to examine the child in the teaching session. With the whole group we apply the diagnosing system I’ve just been teaching. We conclude that – next to the bronchitis that is currently being treated – the child suffers from four other diseases: malnutrition, anemia, ear infection and chronic diarrhea with dehydration. As we are discussing one of my colleagues remarks: “this child is in danger, only when the new pediatric consultation we will be able to treat these kinds of patients. We have to pray for the construction to continue fast!”

P1010113We are waiting to continue the construction of our Mother & Child Center for almost a year: new rooms for child consultation, prenatal care and the nutrition program. The medical authorities from the government hospital encourage us in our construction efforts. Our health post is contributing significantly to the health care in the Northern District of Dakar. The construction shows we really want to advance. It all started off really well, but a missing permit created trouble. Waiting is a skill I’ve practiced quite much here in Senegal. The first proverb I learned in the local language Wolof says it all: “Slowly, slowly, one catches a monkey in the forest.” So one should not start running after the monkey, but neither should one wait until the monkey crawls on your lap. It’s about the art of being ready when success is within reach. One has to prepare oneself until the moment of swift action arrives. Tabitha-61It reminds me of Jesus as he talks about the mystical cooperation between God and men: “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and it’s righteousness, and all other things will be added unto you.” The seeking is up to us, the giving up to God.

The preparations for the pediatric consultancy continue faithfully: the training of the nursing staff, writing of protocols, and of course the resubmission for the building permit. For the time being, the materials are put in our training room. It is like slowly catching a monkey; we have to stay alert. We pray together and encourage one another. This is a search for righteousness, specifically good medical care for children. That is what we fight for.

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Familie Kieviet in Senegal