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Tuesday, March 08, 2011

International Women's Day

On this day, we recall that it is more likely a girl in South Sudan will die giving birth than graduate from high school.

On this day, we reaffirm the Gospel that calls out good news for the women of Sudan and Uganda and Kenya and Burundi and beyond, the hope of dried tears and justice, the comfort of real love.

On this day, we honor women like Melen Musoki, wife of the late Dr. Jonah, who three years ago this day gave birth to their only son, months after he husband had died of ebola. She labors on with her nursery and primary school which provides a head start education to many of our friends and colleagues in Nyahuka, with her five daughters all in various boarding schools, with her management of the family farm, with her tenacity to protect her children from the greed of relatives who would cash in on Dr. Jonah's compensation.

On this day, we stand humbly beside the moms in the hospital, those that hover in this grey realm of having brought life into the world but unsure how long it will last, those sleepless patient women, who gather courage in the midst of foreign beeps and screens and monitors and tubes, to touch their babies. The lady with AIDS whose rocky post-partum course dried up her breast milk, whose husband abandoned her and her older children, who labors to feed her precious baby D. The lady with what looks like metastatic ovarian cancer who is too weak to get out of bed, but requested that the staff slip her feisty little preemie P out of her incubator and wrapped in warm blankets for a glimpse today. The eighteen-year-old with cute braids and a simple smile who cares for her devastated toddler, his brain severely damaged, his face half-eaten by infection, on morphine and fluids for comfort, death inevitable but slow. The mom of Baby N who spent her 95th day in the NICU today, plugging along with feeding and growing, up to 1700 grams (3 3/4 pounds). The new mother of twins, delivered too-early, one pink and calm and perfect, the other fighting hard for her life, ribs pulling against non-compliant lungs, tiny fists batting against her oxygen tubing. All these women, every two hours, day and night, around the clock, coming in to sit by their babies' incubators and cots, to squeeze out life-sustaining breast milk and drip it through naso-gastric tubes, or to hold the larger babies and breast feed them.

On this day I remember the international team of women who have been friends and mentors and prayer warriors and encouragers. Who cooked food for our family, who planned school or taught it for my kids, who read our blog and cared as if it really matters, who planted flowers to welcome us back from furlough or sorted umpteen ages and sizes of baby clothes when I was overwhelmed, who stepped in to care for our team and kids in crisis, who listened and prayed and biked and walked with me, who showed up to work in chaos so I wasn't alone. Women from Uganda and America, and a few places in between. Nurses, teachers, counselors, missionaries, neighbors, friends. And most especially, my mother and Scott's.

On this day we ponder the wholeness of the nature of our God, expressed in the paradox of male and female, a celebratory dichotomy and an essential equality.

And lastly, on this day, we cook breakfast and sort clothes, we examine patients and xrays, we chop vegetables and sweep floors, we answer homework questions and wash dishes, because it is, after all, women's day.


Esther said...

Thank you for sharing Africa with us through your gift of writing. I feel like I am right there on the ward with those women as I read your words. May God bless you this day!

-from Esther in Lexington, Ky. I've been reading your posts for three years.

Travis and Amy said...

We also celebrated Women's Day by...working. Travis called from CSB to say that there was a program in honor of women and I told him that I was a woman who was too busy to celebrate! Star also sends a bark to say she appreciates you and Julia as her fellow Myhre women!