Bangladesh is a land of multi-colored people, tropical landscapes and one temperature: sticky hot. Our parent organization is a child sponsorship ministry and therefore our clinics are held in the churches and schools where our sponsored children live. This trip we traveled to Khulna in the south of Bangladesh and from there went out to five different projects: Koligram, Chalna, Jolipole, Jamulia, and Amgram.
During our two half days and three full days of clinics, we performed medical exams on over 900 patients. The majority of the illnesses treated included: diarrhea, intestinal worms, chronic respiratory infections; allergic conjunctivitis, urinary tract infections, skin rashes and vitamin deficiencies. In addition to the medical exams, the team also taught water filtration and left five working water filtration units; saw eighty-eight dental patients; completed first aid training and left five comprehensive first aid kits as well as completed public health education, pastoral counseling and the making of countless friends. Despite some logistical difficulties, we ended our clinic time with the sense that we had accomplished what was put before us and we joined the spirit of gratitude and servanthood already there.
There were countless memorable experiences and blessings but the twins and their mama come mind first in my list. On Tuesday, we traveled to Chalna, a remote village and project, two hours from Khulna. It was there that I met this family.
I claimed the first of four rooms to set up for my exams. The heat was oppressive. The crowding a bit claustrophobic and I had a period of time when every time I tried to resolve an issue, I was blocked for one reason or another. As my frustration was building, my twin patients,Bonna and Shauna came in with their mama, dressed in Hindu beauty.
Through my interpreter, I understood that the girls had been born healthy but at 6 months, Shauna had pneumonia and developed special needs. She could not walk or hold her head up well though her smile lit up the room. I treated Bonna and asked mama to return after lunch with Shauna’s hospital paperwork. She returned promptly and the paperwork she brought with her confirmed that Shauna had been treated for Cerebral Palsy. I took her to Dr. Beyda who treated her and affirmed with the mama what a good job she was doing with her twins. As we went to Pharmacy, mama asked if I might take a look at her so back we went to my exam room. As we were finishing, I hugged mama and told her what a blessing she was to me for being such a good mom to her girls in such difficult circumstances. She turned to me with tears in her eyes and asked if I would give her a blessing. I asked my interpreter if she meant she wanted me, a Christian woman, to pray for her, a Hindu woman, and he said yes. So I prayed holding her and Shauna’s hands in mine. We were no longer American and Bengali, no longer caregiver and patient; We were mothers together and the mounting frustration of the morning was replaced with the light of shared blessings between mothers.
As I reflect on my time, I keep coming back to John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave…” Though those involved, both the Bangladeshi side and the American side, felt that the others were the ones giving so much, it was clear that we were giving together in the unparalleled cycle put in place by God Himself. This is why I travel with Medical Mercy: to touch the lives of children and their families and to be touched with the blessings of being together in God’s rhythm.
Some of you can go, some can send but we all can do something with the time, talent and treasures that we have been given. It all begins with an opening of ourselves and a belief that we matter as we believe that each child matters. Thank you One Nurse At A Time for your support. You have been an integral part of my ability to serve.