Saturday, 20 April 2019

March Break!!


GAGA-Ball in southern Togo

We have brought a little bit of camp life to the hospital compound here in southern Togo!  We built a gaga ball pit for the kids to play in.  Actually, the carpenters here at the shop built it after receiving the plans.  They had no idea what they were creating!  There is a gaga-ball pit in northern Togo thanks to our family who was working up there, now we have one, too.  It's basically a big 8-sided walled-in play space which you use your hands to try to hit your opponents with a volleyball or similar... Or at least that's how the game is described to me!

The other kids had no idea what the game was until our boys showed them how to play.  Now it is a regular recess activity and even the Togolese kids can be seen playing it.  I think it's a hit!

Agbe (left) and Kossi, the two carpenters who built the
panels of the gaga ball pit.

These panels are HEAVY!


Add some paint...

Beginning the assembly


and 'voila', there it is!




Cuisine Construction update

The cuisine that had been started in the new year is now completed.  This is building #1 of four.  Throughout the next year the following three cuisine buildings will be constructed.  I was away in Honduras (more on that below) during much of the construction so I only have 'beginning' and 'finished product' pictures.  A big thanks to the CWE mission construction teams who came and helped for three weeks.  They did a great job and we appreciate their efforts!

The foundation is being prepared.

This video is of Komla.
Komla had never used a wheelbarrow before joining us for this project. (Not his fault)  
Komla is a menace with a wheelbarrow, to himself and others!  (His fault)  
Komla is very funny to watch - from a safe distance, even to this day - when he's got a death grip on both handles of a wheelbarrow. (Probably not his fault)  
Komla goes as fast as he can regardless of the terrain, regardless of what he's got in the wheelbarrow, or who is in the way.  (Definitely his fault)  
Everyone just stays out of Komla's way... just for safety reason.


The sidewalk around the building has just been poured in
this picture.
The almost-finished product.  This is one of four cuisine
buildings we will have on site.


Hope To Walk,  in Honduras

Zach Greenlee (a PA from California working here at the hospital) and I had the fantastic opportunity to go to Tegucigalpa, Honduras for a couple of weeks to learn how to make low-cost prosthetic legs for third world countries with an organization called Hope To Walk.  Zach is the medical professional.  I was there to learn the manufacturing side of the process, but we both ended up doing a lot of work fitting the prosthetics, manufacturing and celebrating as people would cautiously walk out of the Hope To Walk clinic.  It was awesome to be a part of the process.

There were about 35 patients who received legs over the two weeks we were there.  So many amazing stories.  Watching a 50-something lady have to stop while walking around the little reception area, trying out her new leg,  She couldn't see where she was going because of the tears of happiness...  Little Andy, who outgrew his old leg, ready to take off again with is new one!  

The opportunity to partner with Hope To Walk, to bring back freedom and independence to amputees here in Togo (and perhaps beyond) will be exciting to be a part of.  We are prayerful it will develop strong roots here and many people will go from disabled back to able.

(Just for information:  a regular prosthetic leg in North America can cost many thousands of dollars - up into the $15,000 + range.  The most affordable prosthetic currently available in Togo is approximately 250,000 CFA or about $500 USD.  We have projected the Hope To Walk leg to cost around $100 USD.  With the low annual income people have to deal with here in Togo, most would go without a prosthetic of any sort.  With a much more affordable option now available we hope to change that.)


Zach, holding the foot used in this system.

Kid size up to adult, we can fabricate a
below-the-knee prosthetic for all ages.

Andy, the youngest recipient, was happy to
be back on two feet!

Our Togolese HBB / Hope to Wallk team with our first
patient.  So pleased with how these guys have caught on.
Now it's their program to run with.






And a few left over pictures that I hope you will enjoy.

The coffee trees were in bloom in late January in togo.
They smelled beautiful - not like coffee, but still beautiful!

The sun setting on a dusty harmattan evening in the
mountains behind our hospital.

Heavy mist forming droplets on the mossy branches of
trees in the Honduran mountains

A couple of waterfalls we came across
during a hike in La Tigra National Park,
outside Tegucigalpa, Honduras.


Two long ABS pipes AND driving a moto... Skills!
Only in Togo!!


Monday, 4 February 2019

Under Construction




The New Cuisine

There is a lot of activity around the hospital currently.  We are in full swing building a new cuisine building.  The cuisine is used by family of our patients to stay in - kind of like a Ronald McDonald House - while their family member is receiving care here.  They live in a room and cook meals for their family member who is at the hospital.

A woman cooking a meal in the old cuisine


The new cuisine will be in a better location, closer to the main gate, allowing for easier and shorter trips to the little shops located outside the hospital compound.  These shops are where food (or at least the ingredients to make a meal) is purchased for patients to eat.  This new building will have more rooms, since the old cuisine was often full and people would have to sleep in the open 'cooking pavilion' since there wasn't space for them.  The rooms will also have electricity since most people have phones to charge.  We hope to have the cuisine ready for mid-March.





Cartes De Sejour

We were not permitted to have our visas renewed a few months ago.  That meant we had to begin the tedious task of applying for our carte de sejour.  This is essentially a residence permit card for non-Togolese living in the country.  The process was, and still is, painful.  I think we counted up to 17 documents that were required - per person - to finally be able to submit a completed application.  It was a scavenger hunt to obtain three required documents to apply for a fourth, save that fourth document for the official application.  Proceed to next required document hunt.  Christine did a fabulous job coordinating all of that for us.  Frankly,  I would have given up and come home!  I must also thank Ben Ward (another Canadian who has gone through the process before and brilliantly documented everything) for his invaluable assistance!  

Ah, memories of waiting outside this door on the left to finally
receive our cards





Honduras Bound

I will be leaving for Tegucigalpa, Honduras on Feb 5th to attend a prosthetic seminar with Zach Greenlee, a surgical PA here at our hospital.  We are hoping to learn of the program they use in Honduras to build low-cost prosthetics for leg and foot amputees.  In third world countries, the ability to move yourself around is essential to do even basic tasks.  There are no accessibility or support networks.  Relying on others means less independence, poverty and loss of personal dignity.  If we can bring a viable option to our amputation patients to help make their day-to-day life a little less daunting after losing a foot or leg this could be a huge benefit for many here in our region and up at our sister hospital in Mango.


One of our young amputee patients


One of the guys in our shop, a carpenter named Togbe, had a nasty moto accident in early December.  He broke his tibia and fibula right above the ankle, and those bones protruded out of the skin and scraped on the ground.  While he is still in good spirits, this incident has made me painfully aware of what affect a traumatic injury has on a person who is strong and healthy, a great worker yet has a very long term potential for recovery, let alone losing a foot due to the injuries sustained.  


The hole where the bones poked out and some of the
external hardware used to secure his joint.


I stuck a Togolese flag in the top of Togbe's
external hardware to give him a patriotic
flair.


Logan gave Togbe a ride home after the workers
received their Christmas gifts.


I'm hoping this time in Honduras will put our hospital on a path to getting a prosthetics program started.  

And by the way, any orthopods or orthopedic surgeons specializing in foot and ankles who might want to take on a challenging case... Togbe is your guy!






From The Cutting Room Floor...

Here are some pictures with short descriptions, to give you a quick glimpse into life here in West Africa.

Tires on this truck are worn right through to the inner casing.

Almost 30 degrees Celsius, but this kid was
bundled up for the "chilly" weather.


These next two pictures are from the Port market in Lome.  It's really just a massive flea market but some of the stuff for sale was quite amusing.  Click on the pictures to zoom in for a look at what treasures are available there.

Used microwave oven?  We can find you several.

Junk  Used tools for sale everywhere.

Coffee trees are in bloom in the valley behind the hospital.
They smell great, but some fanatics prefer
the beans.

Carrying plastic pipe AND driving a moto at the same time.
That's some skill!

The easiest way to drive a Citroen is to put it
on a cart and pull it by hand.

The mountain behind the hospital is almost obscured from
view by the harmattan dust blown down from the
Sahara Desert.

The view from a mountain trail while on a moto ride, again obscured by the
harmattan.

Logan, opposite view from the photo above.





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Sunday, 4 November 2018

And Suddenly, It's November!

A group of our missionary family enjoying
a local waterfall.




50th Anniversary Visit

I was able to get home in early September for a surprise visit, rudely interrupting the start of my parents' 50th anniversary party.  No one, save for four adults, knew of my plan.  It worked out great and I was blessed to be able to spend a bit of time with many friends and with family, as well.  My sisters put a lot of work into the planning and execution of the party.  It was a great evening!  And 50 years married... Awesome!

Paul & Gwen and their kids.




Back To School

In early September school began here on the compound for the missionary kids.  This year we are very blessed (and thankful) for a second teacher.  Diana is teaching the older grades which frees up the parents to do more of their work, and in the case of our boys, gives them a better education than we can offer with home schooling!

Logan started high school.  How many 14 year-olds get to drive a moto to their first day of school - and most days following??  He's doing pretty well, but is needing a bit of help with math, and generally giving as much effort to school as he does to play.  But that could be said for many guys his age.

Keenan is in Grade 6.  He's a tireless reader and is doing well despite being the youngest of all the kids in the higher class.  He's learning some Grade 9 material as it's hard to prepare and teach curriculum for four different grades each day.

Hudson is enjoying school.  It's essentially an 'attendance required' party.  All his friends are there, and he's a social creature.  




Mango Nursing School

Christine was again asked to teach a section for the nursing school up at the Hospital of Hope in Mango.  We all made the trip up and got to visit friends up there - although we all missed the presence of the Weston family while we were there!

We arrived at the Hospital of Hope compound just in time for Sunday afternoon game time.  Soccer teams were being chosen so we joined in.  Everyone had fun - and played through the rain storm that blew in.

When we saw this bank of clouds blow in we knew
we were going to get wet!


Christine taught on critical care concerning the respiratory system, and I tried to keep the boys focused on their school work before losing them to play with their friends up there.  She was successful.  I can't claim the same for myself and the boys.


Students practicing fitting each other for masks.

Lacking true commitment, none of them volunteered for
the tracheotomy...


The last bit of the drive north to Mango.  I love the
wide open Savanna

Maybe I don't love the rutted roads that the rainy season brings

Followed this car through the toll booth.  Extra points
for the goat (they travel for free).




Hope Radio

Our time in Mango coincided with the dedication / grand opening of Hope Radio, the radio station the mission is using to reach the widespread community.  It was nice to be able to attend that event and support our friends working on programming, translation and technical aspects of the station.

Many community representatives were in
attendance - in the shade.

Many others finding shade wherever possible!

Stoney Creek Baptist Church supports the Drakes.  Here Adam
is giving a brief speech during the ceremony.

Leaving the dedication, we had extra passengers join us
on the way back to the hospital compound.  We ran out
of seats inside so we had some up on the roof rack




On the way back south to our home, we spent some time with the Drake and Farver families at a secluded spot way back in the hills.  The Kpossoli River winds through the hills and drops about 60' to continue it's way.  There are several pools and small cascades that we were able to enjoy playing around in.  What great scenery, hidden from so many people.  We were glad to be shown the way to this gem of a spot!

The main falls

Faith and Christine taking in the view from near the edge.


A couple of the smaller cascades we could wade through.



A few other photos of the sights and scenery in the northern part of Togo...


See, crazy overloaded vehicles are not just where we are
in the south!

A couple of canoes tucked in along the edge of the flooded
Oti River 

Cattle Egrets heading for a safe spot to wait out the storm
that was closing in. 

Logan and I were on a moto ride with Dr. John and we
just barely got home before the worst of the storm
hit the area.  We got wet, not soaked.

Cows.  Just standing in the middle of the road, not a care in
the world, and definitely not in a rush to move out of the way!




After Dinner Surgery

(Note:  For my sister - no gory stuff shown.  You can keep reading and looking at the pictures.)

Normally Christine gets called to go to the hospital.  That's where she can be used much better than I can.  However, one night we had a couple of the visiting medical people over for dinner.  As we were finishing up dinner, the OB doctor got called about a patient that might need a C-section.  I asked if I could come along since there wasn't anything else happening.  She was kind and said that was no problem.  

How cool to see the team doing what they're supposed to, providing excellent care to the local people.  I'd never get to attend anything like this back home, so I enjoy the opportunity whenever it arises!


Before everything started, a photo
with Ephrem.


Baby is out, now time to close things up.

The baby.  Happy to hear that first cry!

A cute, healthy baby girl!




The Leftovers...

Here are some photos that we don't have big stories for.  We just want to share them with you, as they represent some of what living here is like.


A valley Logan and I found on a moto ride.  What a view!

 
This waterfall is also providing some
hydro-electricity to the local community.

A green mamba that we killed in our yard. 
This one was 5'11" long.  

Avery, in true MK Style, shows off the snake.



That time of year again here, as the rains give way to
the dry season. Lots of leaves to rake, but most of ours
will be burned.

A young girl who came in seizing due to cerebral malaria.
Christine and Kekeli worked for hours to stabilize her. 
Two days later she was well enough to be discharged home. 

This mama was nearly comatose when Christine got called.
She was dying, hardly breathing and had very low blood pressure.
Over the next few days she improved with the use of  non-invasive
ventilation and later, just CPAP.  She returned home with her
own CPAP machine to use.  A big thank-you to friends
who donated CPAP machines to our hospital!

When your monkey is just so tired...

Helping the guest house ladies clean up
after our Canadian Thanksgiving potluck dinner.






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