We flew out of Marromeu with Dean- part one of a 5 part 3 day journey home.
The first phase was to Beira by Helicopter. Sad farewells at the containers as others flew to health clinics and we waited our turn out. I aid goodbye to the dog. She had adopted us. Such a sweet personality – flea ridden but cute. Kaylene said she went slutting at night but I think she was a good girl – just because she had had pups and was probably pregnant again does not mean you are a loose woman – or dog Kaylene! Kaylene liked her too really. The trip to Beira was about an hour. Then the waiting for the plane to Johannesburg. Itwas a good flight after about 3 hours wait in a fairly basic airport. Joburg airport is lovely. Good coffee, good shops, and as previously mentioned good seats to sleep on. Didn’t have to do that this time though. There were some African musicians playing while we were there – it was wonderful – all percussion but you just wanted to tap tour toes or dance. No wonder the Africans dance at every opportunity! Then on to Dubai. Just an hours turnaround at Dubai. Just enough time for Philip to get his shaver cord replaced. We had bought it en route and the cord had never worked so they replaced it for us. We had had good seats all the way through – dreadful movies though.
We arrived in Singapore late afternoon. We had a whole day there, so we were booked into a hotel adjoined to the airport. The Park Royale no less. It was SUPERB. Probably not the character of the Royal Livingston – but at least we stayed at this one. I’m not really a fan of hotels – after all they are just beds really and always seem very overpriced for somewhere just to sleep, but I did enjoy this one. Hard to say what it was about it. It was built around a courtyard and had airy outdoors walkways, it was well sound proofed. It had an amazing metalwork on the outside that looked like flowers from a distance. But the breakfast was AMAZING! Buffet, one side Asian , one side European. If I could have stayed all day and just worked my way slowly through it all I would have been happy. Sadly it closed at 10.30 and we had only got there at 9.45!
Anyway I spent the day happily browsing the shops at the airport terminal and Philip worked on photos.
The evening came and we were due to check in. Then a miracle happened. They UPGRADED us! So home, overnight on Business Class. So I got some sleep. Not to mention a lovely dinner and a very comfy chair. The first time I have been upgraded. I did pinch P’s upgrade once – a while ago now.
We had priority luggage and boarding and were able to use the lounge. So it meant we were off the plane quickly and into customs etc with no queuing. In the end we only had a beautiful Guinea Fowl feather and a small wooden ornament confiscated – not bad for 6 months.
Then out to the chill of Christchurch and the wonderful reunion with Matt and Mike. They are gorgeous!
Top L – Shadrach, Top R Livia – from Brazil,Bottom – Elisa (Brazil) and Charmaine (SA)
It is fun going to work by helicopter!
Each day we would go to a different area. There the team would set up the health checks – much like a GP surgery – but not! The vaccinations, the baby checks, the wound dressing station, the microscope for malaria diagnosis. Philip and I would float around it all doing what we could. Philip did baby checks at the time they were being weighed. I worked mostly with wound dressings and some consultations.
The first day out we were at a bit of a loose end. Everything just went on without us so we felt a little extraneous. But after that – once we knew how things worked we were able to interpose ourselves a bit more and hopefully be of some use.
One day we went to a village where Shadrach was the health worker. He and his wife Anna had volunteered to go there as health workers – unpaid. They had done a DTS course at Marromeu and felt called to this particular village. (Not their own one). So they have to make a living as well as do the health work. Shadrach has the most gorgeous smile. He is so caring for the people of the village and sucks up learning like a sponge. He learned English by just talking to people – no formal lessons – and he is good at it. I was able to work with him through a clinic and hopefully was able to add to his knowledge in some way.
Philip and I did a seminar for some of the government workers at Chindi – where there is a local hospital. It doesn’t have any drugs, there is a doctor I think – but it is a hospital. Actually a very clean and well maintained hospital in comparison to some we have seen in India. Chindi (pronounced Shindi) is an old Portuguese settlement and is quite picturesque if a lot run down. It must have been gorgeous in the days of the Portuguese. It wouldn’t take much to return it to it’s former glory actually – it seems to have missed a lot of the destruction that happened in the war of independence. So we did some communication exercises – this was precipitated by our observations of the apalling way some of the government workers didn’t relate to the people. Then talked a bit about kids and the dying patient. It actually went really well. I am convinced that the communication stuff is so vital to all aspects of medical care – just as we found in India.
The best day we had was our last one out in the community. We spent the day with another family of missionaries from South Africa. They have lived there 10 years. Currently Charmaine and her husband, and their son and his wife are there.
They have a gorgeous open plan home built on the foundations of an old Portuguese home. No power etc but they have made it work wonderfully. (There is gas and batteries and a generator used occasionally) Before we started they gave us REAL coffee and fresh muffins!!! Then we saw all sorts of people with so many problems. One man with a dreadful tumour of his face, a nasty crocodile bite, many sore backs – not unexpected from the back breaking work even the oldest of the women do. Kids with skin problems and so much more. Sounds awful but we loved it. It was working in a team and the feeling that we were all pulling together and that something really useful was being done. There were enough people to be able to translate for us. In the middle of all this we had a wonderful lunch at the house. We had to call Dean and tell him not to pick us up until the last possible moment (ie for light etc) because we had so much to do. In the end I think we managed to see everyone who came and offer some help. I was even using medicines out of our own first aid kit. Charmaine had a good supply of meds that had been donated from South Africa – she is not a nurse but is trying to meet the need of the local people for health where there is no health worker, and Leanna brought the YWAM medical pack along with a good supply of stuff.
It was with sadness that we left Marromeu and Dean and Kaylene for our journey back to New Zealand.
The area of Moz we were in is on the Zambesi delta. The Zambesi breaks into hundreds of rivers that flow in all directions. The whole area is wet. The land is very flat and tidal as well. So the degree of water alters markedly. However wherever you look there is water – even glinting underneath the trees. This means there are no roads – just not possible. There are small areas where roads exist but it is not long before you need river transport to get much further. The local people travel on foot and by canoe. It can take days to get to any kind of health facility. Throughout the delta there are villages dotted. All very spread out. People eeking a living from the almost completely sand soil – growing sweet potatoes, tapioca and fishing. There is no electricity, no infrastructure at all really. Some villages have a health worker and an intermittent teacher.
There are huge numbers of children and almost no old people – the average age of death is late forties to early 50s – a hard life. Hundreds of people get taken by crocodiles each year. The teaching is done in Portuguese – not helpful when a lot of the village people do not speak it. They speak Senna. We saw some of the teaching materials used by the official teachers and it was quite inappropriate and way too advanced for the kids we were interacting with.
In this area Dean and Kaylene are working with a group of (mostly women) from YWAM. Leanna is the coordinator and is in charge of organising the groups to go out by the helicopter. There are health teams, vaccination teams, education teams, child evangelism teams and more that go out into the delta. Leanna (from Texas) and Ali (from UK) have been there 7 years. Leanna also teaches a health module with YWAM and I think they have wider responsibilities with the DTS courses. They live in Marromeu and are guardians for 2 cute Mozambique children – twins. Then there is Livia, a Brazillian woman who runs microscope teaching courses. This is to train people to recognise malaria. Malaria is rife. Every day we went out there were 4 or 5 cases diagnosed. Even poor Livia came down with it while we were there. Livia is the most lovely woman full of energy and care. She is growing a garden about the containers for fresh vegetables which can be in short supply. It was sad to see her energy sapped by the malaria. I trust she is back to her enthusiastic self again by now. Sherie also helped with microscopy. Then there was Elisa – another Brazillian who has the most energy I have ever seen. After a long day doing health checks and treatments she gathered up all the children – by chasing them with a syringe full of water and splashing them, then taught them some action songs and talked about Jesus. The kids loved it. And the mums in the background hooted with laughter. It was like a party. Some joy in a hard existence.
Often we had a couple of government workers with us – they were responsible for the vaccination programme – they did the injecting but Leanna was responsible for getting them there and facilitating the programme. Also an official health checker from the government, who mostly handed out antibiotics with little understanding. Then there were the educators – Kaylene and another Elisa (a Mozambiquan treasure of a woman). And more that I did not really get to know.
So you can see there is a lot crammed into the times that Dean is there with the helicopter. He is vital to the area. It is just inaccessible otherwise.