Miss Pat Givin' em Heaven in Africa!
Pat McEwen 11/28/2010
This year I was privileged to go with Doctors for Life (DFL) to Zambia on a medical outreach. This was the second time I was allowed to go with the team, first time in 2009. These outreaches defy description. We travel overland from Kwasizabantu, South Africa through Botswana, Namibia and into the Barotse Region of western Zambia, land of the Lozi people. The team this year was smaller than last, so everyone had to pitch in to do whatever job was needed. My main assignment was fitting glasses, but I also filled in by screening for surgery, doing all the testing (Aids, Malaria, BP, Pregnancy), and changing dressings.
It took five days to get to our destination. One of our two locations was so remote there literally was no road. The second was accessible only by a sand path. Once we arrived and set up the mobile clinic, we were swamped with people needing care for diseases that do not even exist in the 1st world, like leprosy and trachoma. Each day we opened at 6am (to try to beat the 115degree heat) with morning service and closed about 6 when it got dark. George, the cook, would have something for us to eat and a fire going to keep away snakes and other varmints. Johan scheduled us in rotation to teach in the morning services.
One thing I learned this year was how to witness “the African way.” One day I was cleaning and dressing a wound on a woman’s leg while witnessing to her. Johan saw us and stopped to listen. He tapped my shoulder and said, “We don’t have time for the American way – do you mind?” I nodded OK and he began. “Woman, where is your head? Have you no head? You have had this wound for 20 years and have gone to the singanga (witch doctor) and are wearing his fetishes? What good has it done you? Today you may die and stand before God. Do you want to see Jesus wearing this sign of Satan?” She tore off the fetishes and started crying. Johan then said to me – “OK now tell her about the love of God and lead her home.” Later that day another woman came – very sick, stick thin, sores all over her body. Carl Heinz said, “ don’t even bother to test – this is the end stage of AIDS – double glove and clean her up and make her comfortable – she has only hours.” While I was gently washing her face I said, “Woman, where is your head?...” She died in peace that night because she met the Lord. In Africa, death is always around the corner – no time for “Miss Nice Guy.”
After we returned to Kwasizabantu, there was no time to rest. The very next day I went with a team of 11th hour counselors to the drug and prostitute section of Durban. I trained these counselors (the Zulu have no word for sidewalk) in 2001 and I am still amazed at their enthusiasm. Once the abortion clinics closed they went right to the streets and ministered to the prostitutes. They go to Durban and also the small villages just talking to women who are pregnant. Their enthusiasm amazes me. The cute little girl in the picture is Rebecca. She was one of the first saves from the prostitute ministry. She is Zulu. Her mother was a 15 year old prostitute dying from AIDS who chose life for her child. She lives on the Kwasizabantu mission with her new parents Dr. Albu and Karen van Eeden. This year DFL held a “life chain” in Durban using the OSA (ugly) signs I brought last year. Rebecca held a sign that read, “Abortion Murders Children Like Me.”
The outreach was long and tiring, but I would not trade the experience for anything!