We carried our gear (backpacks, tent, medical supplies, etc)
around a donga (eroded valley that usually contains a stream) to the nearby village - 30 minutes away. We were met there by the
chief who naturally wondered who we were and why we were there. We talked for a while and he was quite pleased to allow us to pitch our tent there, to use his house for the mobile medical
clinic, and to have the pitso (gathering of villagers) at his village.
Within a couple of hours people had gathered and were ready to hear what we had to say. We were
joined by a member of the Qabane Community Council who has been lobbying for better health care in the valley. We held the pitso at an area of the village that was like a peninsula that overlooked the Qabane River. As our team was walking toward that area, NtateMojakhomo told Amanda and Me' Tumeliso that they had to walk down on a lower path, not the one we were on. He then proceeded to explain to me that as we were walking next to the cattle kraal, the women could not walk next to it as there is the belief that they might somehow badly influence the fertility of the cattle. Once we got to the pitso area, we followed the usual customs of beginning with an introduction by the chief of the village, then introductions by each group, then a prayer, and then we began the discussions.
People were very interested in the fact that we wanted to help them with better health care. They had the usual questions about compensation of their land that would be used by the airstrip and health post. It was interesting to hear the chief that was in charge of that land tell the people that they shouldn't allow this land to stop them from getting important services like health care. Then people began to share stories of how difficult it is to get health care. They basically have two choices - go down the valley to Ha Sekake (gov't clinic) or across a big mountain to Tebellong Hospital (mission hospital). They shared how when they go to the gov't one, that they often find it out of drugs and there is no doctor there. Then they told us horrific stories of going the other way where they have had several women raped, others beaten and robbed, and others having their medications stolen. They pointed to one side of the mountain
that was 'the way of the rapers' and the other way as the 'way of the thieves.' They practically begged us to hurry up and get the airstrip and health post built. They were heart wrenching stories. On a really good point, the people were very interested and willing to do their part as far as the land and construction, but still had concerns about government compensation. The pitso ended with a verbal 'vote' that was an overwhelming "Eh, Ntate" (yes sir!).
So, now it was time to begin the mobile clinic and for Justin and Amanda to begin their work of airstrip eval.
They walked across/through the donga and began the tedious work of measuring
distances, slopes, angles, etc. Several guys
accompanied them and helped to put rock
'markers' at various places to denote possible boundaries of the airstrip.
Nurse Tumeliso and I began seeing the people that had gathered for the medical services. As I've shared before, we are still learning Sesotho, so Idid my best at offering a prayer before we began medical care. While we saw patients(83 that afternoon), Ntate Mojokhomo was doing some health education and gathering information on the number of villages in the valley that would benefit (52).
We ended the clinic around 6PM and then set up our tent. Part of us stayed in the tent and others in the house. While cooking supper we
took time to 'debrief' the day and plan for the next. We had opportunity to
enjoy a beautiful sunset and give thanks to the Lord for the things of the day.
It's gets light around 4:30AM here so I was up and working on getting some coffee. We had our breakfast and then began a second day of mobile clinic by 6:00AM. We had seen about 80 patients that morning when a husband brought in his wife. She was crying and short of breath. She was saying that she was so sick and was going to die. Turned out she was so severely
anemic that she was in pending heart failure. She needed urgently to get to Maseru to the hospital for blood transfusion. We were very fortunate that the helicopter arrived about and hour later and we packed up our gear and took the lady with us back to Maseru. Unfortunately we had to leave behind about 60 people who had not been seen for medical care. We were back in Maseru in 35 minutes and the lady was transported via ambulance to the hospital. (The lady is doing better now having had blood.)
Now we have the task of getting reports written and finding funding to do the work. Pray with us that the government will be able to find the funding. I will be meeting the high level Ministry of Health officials early next year to present this area and about 4 others like it.
Thanks for praying! All for His glory...