Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Maji and The Clinic
We're now at Maji Matulivu ("still waters" in Swahili), the home of Dr. Jo Lusi where we stay during our time here in the Congo. Jo has worked with HEAL Africa as a surgeon at the hospital for many, many years, and often times has multiple groups staying at his home. And by home I really mean massive estate. Jo's home is about fifteen minutes from the hospital--without traffic--and it is beautiful! It is the farthest thing from what you would think of when you think of living in the Congo. It is a gated home and consists of Jo's house, multiple guest houses, and a large guest house all surrounded by beautiful gardens. I feel like I'm at a resort. It's lovely here. It's right on a large lake called Lake Kivu that is so refreshing after a long day in the heat and humidity. We got here around dinner time on Monday, ate dinner, and were in bed at around 8:30pm. I was so exhausted and thankfully slept straight through the night without any trouble! I think I'm the only one who did…it sounds like everyone else was up around 2am.
In the morning, we ate breakfast and then headed to the church assembly area for HEAL Africa for church at 7am. Church here is so lively! I love it! You feel like going up front and dancing? Great! There is no holding back with these people in action or voice during their time of worship and it is a beautiful thing to see. Definitely different then the typical church in America. They sang for us in English, too!
After church, we headed across the street to the hospital and took a tour of all the buildings. Apparently it has grown dramatically in the past few years. It is honestly so much bigger than I was expecting. They have pediatrics, orthopedics, ER, public health, radiology, a surgery center, etc. It's a very busy place!
After the tour, we all joined two of the Congolese surgeons in the clinic to meet with patients and determine whether they would need surgery done or not. The two general surgeons and the vascular surgeon with our group went with one of the surgeons, and my dad and I went with another surgeon to see more of the plastic surgery cases. Wow was it ever interesting! We saw many, many people with keloids, which are thick areas of tissue that form usually at the site of a scar or injury. For example, many men came in with a keloid reaching from one ear, under the chin, and back up to the other ear that they got from shaving. Another man had keloids form at the sights of gunshot wounds. One woman came in with almost golf ball sized keloids hanging off her ears that formed from piercing her ears. Keloids were probably the most popular thing we saw today. Another interesting case we saw was a man we came in with a bandage on his bottom lip. Apparently, this guy had been in a fight with someone and the other guy bit his bottom lip right off. What?! You could see the teeth marks and everything. There were also multiple patients with burns. One man's shirt had caught on fire and his left arm completely burnt from the shoulder almost to the wrist. His arm is stuck in a bent position, so he will be having a skin graft done to release the elbow and shoulder joints. Another young girl, probably my age or a few years younger came in with burns on her hands, arms, and face, and lost most of her hair on the top and sides of her head, apparently from boiling water. We also saw multiple lipomas, some cleft pallets, and cleft lips, which are my dad's favorite cases.
I love it here. It's difficult to see the poverty, but the people are so wonderful! The African culture is beautiful. The people here usually speak their tribal language and then French as well, neither of which I speak, so that has been a little hard. Some people will talk to us, saying any English words they know, but very few know a good amount of English. The doctors are all relatively good at English, however, and are easy to understand, but I so wish I could communicate with the kids and parents.
Today was a lot to take in, but so incredibly interesting. I already feel like I'm learning so much. Tomorrow (Wednesday) we will be in the OR for most of the day, getting started on some of these cases, and I will hopefully be able to write again tomorrow night or the next day.
Hopefully, more pictures to come soon!