It was 2am. Not too long after I had actually gone to bed, when I opened my eyes to see one of our night workers standing over my bed…. I jumped so high that I might have scared her more then she actually startled me. She said, “Auntie Renee, the nurse is calling you. She says you come fast.” I grabbed a sweatshirt and sprinted down the stairs. As I came down the last step I heard commotion coming from one of the bedrooms down the hall; I headed that way. When I entered the brightly painted blue room I saw that all the mattresses had been moved from their positions on the floor where Mom’s sleep next to baby cribs, and they were now upright against the walls. All the ladies who had been sleeping just hours ago were now standing around the room wearing worried looks on their faces. At the back of the room our night nurse stood over a bed. I weaved through the crowd of Moms and hurried to her side.
She began to explain that the child lying in front of me had taken a turn for the worse. The child who had gone to bed with little reason for concern was now laying in her crib with a very large abdomen, and I mean VERY large. She was unresponsive with a low pulse… We needed a Doctor, and we needed one now!
And there we stood. With no Doctor.
What I was guessing to be some kind of an abdominal obstruction needed an ultrasound and a Doctor. The likelihood of finding either of those things in the middle of the night is slim where I live, if not impossible. Though we had no option but to try. So as I ran out of the room I shouted back “Get them ready to go please, we leave in 2 minutes.” Our nurse started preparing the baby and mom for transport, and I began grabbing what we needed from the clinic and around the house… 3 minutes later we loaded ourselves into the car and drove out through our big red gate.
Headed for where? I really had no idea, our options were limited, but as I drove down the bumpy dirt road I began racking my brain…. We really did only have 2 options; try a private clinic where we would probably find a Doctor, though one who would likely not be able to help with the problem at hand, or the government hospital where we would probably be sent from the private clinic anyway though with little hope of finding a Doctor there at all. As I drove, I prayed. Hard. “Lord guide us! Give me wisdom! Help us find a doctor.” And God sure guided me because before I even knew what I was doing we pulled into the government children’s hospital…
I parked the car in front of the dark, vacant looking building, jumped out quickly and gathered up the bundle of blankets that engulfed our small friend. Trying to speak reassuring words to a very frightened mother, we ran to the entrance. But when I pulled on the handle of the big door in front of us, it didn’t budge. It was locked. We ran to the back where another large door stood open. As we entered it became even darker... Although I know the halls of this hospital like the back of my hand, during the night the floors are full of sleeping people. I carefully balanced the fragile bundle I carried in my arms while fishing around a pocket for my phone; I wanted to illuminate the path so we could avoid tripping over and disturbing the sea of sleeping people laying before us.
As we weaved in, out and around sleeping patients some would look up and give a strange look, as if they were unsure weather they were dreaming, or if a barefoot white woman caring a baby really just did walk by… yes, sometimes I forget my shoes.
Finally we made it to the little room with a sign above the door that read “Emergency”. As we walked through that doorway I prayed with everything in me that we would just by some miraculous change find a Doctor. But no, not that night; just a room full of sick children. Not even a nurse in sight. The only working oxygen concentrator was sounding its alarm, attempting to alert someone of a problem. But no one was there…
I started to panic. What were we going to do? This was it. This was our only option and there was not even a bed for the baby I held in my arms. But in that moment, I felt like I heard a voice saying, “Do not fear. Be not afraid.” Fear doesn't often get me far so I took a deep breath and looked around once more…. And as I looked my heart settled. My mind slipped out of panic mode and I took a deep breath. Everything was still the same. The louder than loud alarm was still going off, no nurse had suddenly appeared, and the baby girl I was holding was still slowly slipping away. But I looked at the situation with new prospective…with new determination.
The table where they do examinations was wide open so I got our little friend situated, left our nurse to watch her (as well as check on the malfunctioning oxygen situation), and headed back out into the dark hall….in search of someone, anyone who could help us.
After knocking on just about every door in the hospital I found a nurse! She promised to call a Doctor and then disappeared again. I made my way back to the ER and watched. Waited. Prayed! And for almost the next three hours the child in my arms continued to drift away and the doctor never came…
This story, sadly, is a familiar one. A scenario that is played out for many sick children that God sends into our care. It is a terrifying and heart wrenching experience for mothers who have sought refuge and help in our home. As well as frustrating for me as I seek medical expertise beyond my own in a world where it is often just not available. This story and others like it would be different if we had a Doctor...
God has blessed Serving His Children with an amazing staff, including 3 full time Ugandan nurses and medical equipment that is not even often available in local hospitals. Still, without the skill of a doctor on staff, we often find ourselves leaving the comforts and equipment in our own clinic for the hope of finding a doctor. All the while small lives literally slowly slip away.
We need a doctor!! Plain and simple. A doctor who can be there in emergencies, give direction to our nursing staff, and provide an in-house diagnosis for the many complications that come with severe malnutrition. A doctor who can come along side of us as we strive to save the lives of children that face the horrible reality of malnutrition. A doctor who shares our passion for serving the Lord and who will pray through crisis and show the great compassion of Jesus to hurting and frightened families!
So my question to you: Will you help us meet this huge need? Our current and greatest need is to hire a Ugandan doctor. The second is to hire a Nutritionist. These two positions will help us to save more lives and relieve significant amounts of stress for our staff. The cost of a year’s salary for a Ugandan Doctor is $15,000 and $7,000 for a Ugandan Nutritionist. $22,000 is a lot of money, but it can change and save a whole lot of lives – will you help? Our goal is to start interviewing for both a doctor and a nutritionist by June 15th. I know that’s soon, but I’m moving towards that date with total trust that God will provide exactly what is needed, at just the right moment!!!
If you would like to join our team by helping us to hire these crucial professionals, please make a donation either by mailing a check or using our online payment program, and note “Doctor/Nutritionist Salary”
Thank you for praying! Thank you for giving! Thank you for helping us to break the cycle of malnutrition one life at a time!