Today the boys and I joined some other dads and sons for a trip to the fishing resevoir. While we didn’t catch anything it was fun to get out. Now that we know where this is, we’ll probably try to make it here once in a while.
Today we enjoyed a rousing game of wiffle ball in the afternoon followed by a movie at the pool after dinner. It’s fun to have these sorts of activities from time to time for the opportunity to just do fun stuff (non work related) with those that we work and live with every day.
Today Alain (HOH General Director), Josh (HOH Chaplaincy) and I took a trip to Tanguieta, Benin to visit and meet with the director of the Catholic hospital there. The Hôpital Saint Jean de Dieu of Tanguiéta is a large hospital with between 400 and 500 beds. We got a tour of the hospital but most importantly we talked with them about the snake antivenom they use.
A bit of history… The first month of our operation we saw 11 snake bite victims and right around one third of them died. Even those that did recover, did not recover as quickly as we would have expected. Of those that died, they showed almost no improvement after receiving multiple doses of our antivenom. This left us very concerned and desperate to find answers. Word travels quickly in our town and we didn’t want to become known as a place that couldn’t help snake bite victims. Of course knowing that if one of us got bitten by a snake we would have a 33% chance of dying was a bit alarming as well. (Especially as two of our missionary families have had a snake killed on their porch or in their garage this past week.) We began doubting if the antivenom we were buying was effective against one of the more potent vipers in our region. We then met with the regional health director who said that most snake bite victims in our area are fine after one dose of the antivenom at the government hospital. However, when we asked about getting some of this antivenom he said that right now there were only three vials for our entire region and they were in fact out at the local hospital. In the end after more research it was concluded that our antivenom which is manufactured in India, is possibly effective against some snakes in our area but is pretty much useless against one of the more potent vipers and we needed to find a better source for antivenom.
So with this in mind we headed to the closest large mission hospital in our area to discuss snake antivenom among other things. The good news was they use a source for antivenom in Benin and have offered to let us request additional antivenom when they place their order. We were also able to buy a few vials of antivenom directly at their pharmacy and after giving one dose to one of our snake bite patients upon our return, a few days later she is remarkably better and looks to be on the road to recovery which is much different than her outlook before receiving the antivenom from Benin.
Keep praying for the snake bite victims in our area. Many die from snakes, some die from the local healers trying to bleed them out after being bitten, and some make it to our hospital. Please pray we would find a good and reliable source for antivenom and establish a reliable treatment method for snake bite victims. Those that receive antivenom almost always leave with a bill much larger than they could ever pay as antivenom is very expensive (around $80 for each vial and some people receive multiple vials). It’s possible we would need to raise around $10,000 each year to cover the cost of snake bite treatments that the people can not afford to pay. Some of our American missionary nurses and other health care providers have begun contributing to the newly established Mango Snake Bite Victim Fund which will allow us to treat more snake bite victims even when they can not afford the full cost of their treatment. If you would like to join with our missionaries and one church that have contributed so far to this fund, your check can be sent to ABWE noting that it is for the Mango Hospital – Snake Antivenom Fund (0763953-013). Our you can choose to give online by clicking here and also noting the funds are to go to the Mango Hospital – Snake Antivenom Fund (0763953-013).
Today was hot, so the 20 minuted downpour was a welcome addition to the afternoon as it seemed to cool things off a bit. Most of the rains here are accompanied by strong winds that blow sheets of water in any windows left open and under the doors despite 10 foot overhangs on most of the roofs on the property.
WATER UPDATE: Thank you for your prayers for our water situation. In the past few days our water needs have turned around. The water pipe from the city was flowing with good pressure for the past couple of days which allowed all of our tanks to fill. We are off of water restrictions but still convinced that we need to try to drill for water once more since we are highly dependent on the city’s ability to supply an adequate amount of water. It seems likely the city could be unable to provide enough water for our use during each dry season and in the case of a extended power outage.
While the new structure in our backyard is nicer than what many call homes here, this is not going to be where grandpa and grandma stay when they visit. It’s going to be a chicken coop and we’re hoping to have it completed before the rains come in full force.
Today felt a bit like we were just trying to manage urgent issues. Our water shortage reached a dire level today. In fact, we had to make the difficult decision to turn water off to certain parts of the hospital and compound in order to keep from completely running out of water. Alain drove the tractor with a tank on the trailer to his house in town and filled it up a couple of times in order to help fill our water system. This evening the pressure from the city’s water was back up a bit but it seems to fluctuate between almost a trickle and a good supply. Pray that God would make clear to us if we are to once again pursue drilling a well on the property and if so, that He would also make the funding for this project available. Ironically this afternoon we experienced our first torrential downpour which lasted less than an our but sure cooled the day off and reminded us that rainy season is about to begin.
Have you ever heard of the “22° halo“? During lunch today Aden came in saying he saw a rainbow. While it sort of looked like a rainbow, it was actually a circle around the sun. So after telling all the children who were having their lunch outside that they shouldn’t stare up at the noonday sun, I got my camera out and tried to take a photo of it. Over lunch aunt Megan googled it and discovered it’s formed by ice crystals in the atmosphere.
Tonight as we gathered as a team to celebrate Easter we included a short video of some of the missionary kids. You can see that by clicking here. Something that has become a bit of a concern is the water situation here at the hospital. You may remember that despite a very expensive attempt a few years back, we have not been able to reach water and have our own well. So right now we are dependent on the city to provide us with enough water to keep this place going. This past week we’ve been seeing many days of critically low water levels. It seem the main problem is that the water coming from the city is not coming at the volume we need so that we are just barely keeping enough water in our system to meet our needs and have not been getting enough to get any sort of reserve in case of an electrical outage in the city. Part of the problem seems to be that since we are in dry season and the Oti river has less water, the city’s large pumps that pump water out of the Oti river are no longer touching the water so the city has dug out a deeper area farther out in the river and put a smaller portable pump there surrounded by sandbags. With the whole town needing water, and our line also supplying the new military camp just beyond us, we do not have good water pressure and can’t get the volume we need to replenish our reserves. So while part of this problem is solved with the arrival of rainy season, we also need a better long-term solution. We will be continuing to talk with the city, but we are also needing to pray and consider the possibility of once again trying to drill for water in the location on the property that was proposed by visiting hydrologists.
Today following breakfast we took a little trip north to see old cliff dwellings. It took about 2 hours to get there and once you arrive you have to find a guide who will unlock the caged ladders that you must descend to view an area that was once a refuge for the local peoples. There are many storage pots where they could keep their crops safe from being stolen and store water so that up to 300 people could live here for months when there was unrest or danger. They were especially used by local tribes when they needed to escape from raiding parties that came to steal people to be sold as slaves. It was amazing to see the remains of this refuge and to think of families living perched on these cliffs thousands of feet above the valley.