Dear Friends and Family,
Greetings and love from Soddo!
Busy Days in OB
The OB/GYN ward has been full to bursting. On Thursday we scourged around the hospital to find a few extra beds to squeeze into the wards and the hallway. I hate to see laboring mothers in the hallway, but I had no choice. Around 10:30 on Thursday night I delivered a preterm mother by caesarean section at 33 weeks. The baby weighed 1.8 kilo. I desperately needed a private room to put the preemie into. I had none. I went to each patient and begged them to move into a ward so I could make room for the baby. No one agreed. I was so frustrated. I didn’t blame them for not wanting to move, but I had a preemie that needed heat and constant monitoring. Eventually one of the patients, who would have been discharged the next morning, agreed to just go home!
No resident for me
Currently I have no surgical resident. This basically means that I round on all the patients, see all the patients in clinic and have no first assistant in surgery. With the increase in the patient volume in clinic and deliveries, it can make for some very long days. My son-on-law, Chris, was here for two weeks, finishing up the 6 weeks that we had with Miriam and the kids. He was very interested in watching me do some surgeries. In the picture below, he is helping me remove a huge ovarian tumor.
Those Amazing Blue Towels
There’s an old saying about yard sales that someone else’s junk is another person’s treasure. I’m convinced this can be said about the blue surgical towels that are routinely thrown away in surgeries all over the United States. These little cotton towels are absolutely amazing. As our visitors bring us stacks of towels folded in their suitcases, we continue to find new uses for them.
In the beginning these absorbent towels were used in our surgeries to dry the surgeon’s hands. Later the hospital cleaners discovered them and wanted them for cleaning the wards. They make excellent cleaning cloths for windows and floors. We use them in our homes for cleaning towels and also they make great dish towels. Then Mark began to use them in his OB ward. They clean the newborn baby with the blue towels. A blue towel often lies on the baby scales. Our cleaned OB vacuum extractors lie on the towels. They use the blue towels to wipe the ultrasound gel off the patient.
And then Allison discovered that they could make excellent absorbent OB pads for our delivering mothers. We fold the towel several times and sew it together. Next we add a flannel sleeve to the pad and voila, we have a dense, absorbent washable, reusable maternity pad.
A few weeks ago we experimented with using three towels sewn together. We fold the inner towel to make a sort of thick pad. Then we fold the outer towel over half and sew it together. Now we have a pad to put under our delivering mothers to absorb some of the blood and also put on our beds if the patient is bleeding heavily. They are not as large as the blue ‘chucks’ that are used in U.S. hospitals but essentially they function the same way.
So those little blue throw away towels in the U.S. are a treasure to us in Soddo. Keep them coming!
Another Idea for U.S. Throwaways
Currently we are kicking off a new ministry…making washable, reusable sanitary pads for the women of Wolaitta. Our chief frustration has been finding a ‘plastic’ barrier to use in the under pad. The plastic we have experimented with in Ethiopia is too ‘crunchy’ making lots of noise when scrunched up. One day I was walking across the hospital compound and discovered a piece of paper/plastic disposable surgical drape blowing in the wind. I thought, “Hm, I wonder if this would work for the pads.” I gathered up the dirty drape and took it home and washed it with soap and water and hung it on the clothesline to dry. Imagine my great amazement and joy when I found the drape was perfectly dry and reusable! We sewed it into a sanitary pad and voila, we have a new barrier! It is light, waterproof and best of all…it doesn’t crinkle! Keep saving those unused surgical drapes that are routinely put in the trash. We have a new use for them!
A New Name?
We are looking for a catchy acronym for our washable, reusable sanitary pads. One group in another area of our state is calling them RUMPS but I’m not keen on the acronym. Can you help me come up with a better one? Email me your ideas!
Our New Home
We are beginning to remodel a shipping container on the hospital compound. It already has a roof on it and windows with screens. In the recent past it was used to house the CT scanner and the X-ray equipment. Now that this equipment is in place in the new building, the container is empty and just waiting for a new project. We will need to add a door with steps, some electricity for lights, outlets, fun paint and curtains, and the necessary desks, tables, chairs and shelving we will need for our ministry. By moving this ministry from our kitchen tables and into the container, Inge and I will be able to closely monitor the women that will be sewing the pads. Your enthusiasm and generous donations are making this exciting ministry possible. Keep your suggestions coming!!!
For many years on Valentine’s Day I, Allison, have made a double valentine cut-out cookie with pink icing layered between two cookies and sprinkled with powdered sugar. They are delicious but also pretty. This year I gave some to our female house workers who were meeting for their Friday small group. Demekech carried a pot of tea and nine cookies to the Bible Study. Later that afternoon she said to me, “They loved the cookies so much that they decided that because it is “ficker” (love) day, they would study love instead of their scheduled Bible study.”
In the evening we hosted three Scottish women who come once a year to assist a small health center about 30 kms. from us. Along with the Scottish women, we had the Franciscan nun, Sister Haimanot, who runs the clinic and convent. Looking into her sweet smiling face, it was not hard to see Jesus. After a delicious dinner of homemade pizza, salad and passion fruit juice, we enjoyed the Valentine cookies. As they were leaving, we were able to bless them with a large bag of baby hats you all have knitted. Your flying fingers have knitted so many hats that it will take years to use them all. Also when Mark discovered that Sister Haimanot only had a stethoscope to listen to heart tones, he gave her his extra Doppler. She was ecstatic.
Memories of our children’s visit
Our children have gone home. It was just wonderful having Miriam and the children for six weeks. The house was a disaster with toys all over the floor but the time with them was irreplaceable. It was just perfect, except perhaps for all the vomiting and diarrhea:). Sara came out for the last two weeks and the two sisters were reunited. Auntie Sara got to know her niece and nephews and we got to love on Sara.
Thank you for your love and support. Please pray that Satan does not steal our joy. Working in an African hospital can by trying and Satan would love to take that joy from us. We cannot do this without your faithful prayers and financial support. Your contributions to our maternal benevolent fund are so important for the poorest of the poor in Africa. Thank you.
Mark and Allison
Mark and Allison