Working in a jungle hospital

“You are unique, there is nobody in the world like you. God has created you with talents and he has a place for you to show his love in this world.” The pastor pressed these encouraging words at the heart of the hospital staff this Tuesday morning. “It makes no sense to compare yourself to another, because you are you. If you will not fulfill the role that God has for you, there is really no one else who does.” How true this is and how valuable the role is of the 60 nurses who keep the Bongolo Hospital running will become clear in the course of the day.

Currently I am doing consultations at the general Outpatient Clinic for adults and see patients at the Emergency Room. It’s a privilege to be present and help wherever possible: lives are being saved here! The resources are very basic, but the atmosphere amongst colleagues makes up for that.

An 80-year-old man traveled 3 days accompanied by his son, with shortness of breath. Why this long journey? “I’m looking for good care. In this hospital, people still enjoy their profession.” A young woman comes from the capital. All investigations have already been done. She has HIV and Tuberculoses, and now also a large skin tumor; severely ill. I explain that the admission will at least last for 2 months because of the TB treatment. She seems calm and prepared and she radiates courage. There are many TB patients, a grateful group that often improves. But some patients sometimes have expectations that are too high. “We are in the bush here, madam, there is no scanner.” A nurse explains patiently. Also a woman with a extensive cervical cancer can not be helped. There are however pastoral workers available to support the people. And sometimes there is an unexpected surprise, like a man with myasthenia gravis (a rare muscle disease) who was again able to open his eyes after treatment.

All in all a very interesting and a dynamic place to be. And here, in the jungle, I may fulfil my very own unique role.

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Familie Kieviet in Senegal