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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

What would victory look like?

This question seems clinically clear some days, and murky others.  And when applied to the strike, the unions, the government, it becomes even less obvious.  Certainly sending the nation's health care force to jail does not look very victorious.  Nor does making empty promises.  Nor does bankrupting the country.  All the prophets cry out in times like this:  where is justice? What are you waiting for God?  Come and help.

And God does.  Victory does have some faces.

Like these two preemies, whose entire lives have been lived during the strike.  Thanks mostly to the diligence of some experience nurses and the grace of God, they are both going home today after more than a month of tenuous clinging to their fragile lives.  When I discharged them, the mom's were crying with joy.  I have to say that the sheer delight of a woman able to take home a live baby is no small thing, and even in my gappy Swahili I get their meaning.  

Or this cutie, who looks perfectly normal now but was on the wrong side of a true knot cutting off his blood and oxygen in the womb in the middle of Saturday night.

Or even a mid-day pause when we could both, at the same time, get lentils and chai.  Scott's job in particular is quite physically demanding.  Now that we're in the second week of being back, the 8th week of the strike, we're trying to grab more moments for rest.  Chai can really keep you going.

But while so far maternal deaths have been avoided at NCSH as services rev back up, I can't say the same for neonatal.  Women walk into clinic and pop out premature babies, or they get sent up cold and gasping from private clinics.  There was a baby with sever congenital malformations incompatible with life yesterday.  Today it was the 1.2 kg 31-week baby whose mom had life-threatening complications, and who had been very sick with necrotizing enterocolitis, a condition with a high mortality here.  I had a moment of happiness getting in a very difficult IV in her this morning, and hours of sadness when I had to use that line to attempt to bring her back to life a few hours later, without success.  As mom mourned, some more of her story spilled out, a husband who refused to pay for her transport to this hospital from Mai Mahu after her dangerous condition was detected, and whose beating triggered the bleeding that finally brought her in.  So this is what defeat looks like.  We wrested her life from the grip of the Evil One, but at the cost of her baby's life.  She's still not completely well herself, and I noticed her this afternoon just sitting, all alone.

So if the book after book of the Old Testament prophets seem repetitive or irrelevant to you, think of this woman.  Or if Jesus' words to the oppressive powers that be seem harsh to you, think of this place.  

I think we've been given a glimpse of what victory would look like:  Love defeating Evil.  Sacrifice flowing into rivers of new life.  No more tears.  All things new.  That's the long view, the one that gives us hope.  And in the more immediate time frame, a restructure of the health care in Kenya with priority to the poor, fair and reliable wages to public servants, compassionate neighbors and professionals available to all, integrity in finances, responsive government.  Please pray that tomorrow (the day non-compliant doctors are being threatened they will be jailed) does not implode even the fragile safety net we've woven here to help those we can.  Thanks.


Jan said...

Hello Jennifer. Praise God for the two preemies who went home today and the little cutie rescued on Saturday night. May the Lord continue to grant you and Scott stamina, wisdom, grace, compassion, skill and everything else you need as you serve him there. Praying for the health care situation in Kenya as per your requests. Jan (Cush4Christ, Aweil East, SS).

Jill said...

A sobering reminder of the real fight we are in as this week takes crazy to a new level in the US. Continuing to pray as always. Thank you.