Return To Health

By Lynn Lagore

Returning to rural Mozambique spelled a fairly quick immersion back into bush health work for me. Since the Leadership Training intensive seminar was on, one of my first activities was the distribution of donated reading glasses to monitors who were attending. For most who received a pair, this was the first pair of glasses they’d ever owned and they were so pleased to be able to read with such ease!

Then, the home visits began. The first call was to provide care for a very sick elderly gentleman who was so weak the best he could do was lie on his mat all day coughing. We’re so thankful for the donations and resources we receive that help us care for cases like these.

Socorrista (health worker) Celestino takes his turn to listen to sounds of suspected pneumonia.

It’s winter time here right now, so it’s our high season for chest flu, pneumonia and burns (people sleep as close to their fires as they can to stay warm at night).

I was asked to do a health presentation during a general session at the intensive seminar, so I chose the topic “pneumonia”. Many of these monitors live in remote areas with little or no access to health care, so it’s critical that they learn to recognize signs and symptoms dangerous illnesses and know how to intervene.

We did a few other home visits this week, most of them to villages and places I’d never been to before. One of the homes was (in my understanding, anyway) a hop skip and a jump from where we live. When we turned off the highway I looked at Mariano (coordinator for the orphan program) for directions. He pointed out the front window and said, “That way, and it’s a considerable distance too.” It also turned out to be a bit of a bush-whacking adventure as we headed through dry riverbeds and up meandering dirt paths badly gouged by erosion.

At one point, in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere, Mariano said, “Ok, this is as far as we can drive. Now it’s by foot. You’ll have to park on the eroded part of the road so ox carts can get past the vehicle on this side if they come by while we’re gone.” And with that, off we hiked.

Pastor Mariano and Celestino waiting for me to take the prescribed photos before carrying on.

After about a 20 minute hike, we approached a small tattered hut. The yard was quiet so we called out and went scouting around for someone…anyone. A young lady, apparently a family member, emerged up the path from the river and led us into the hut. I didn’t take any pictures of the actual hut, the photo below is so you get an idea of how the hut was built. Except the one we went into was heavily plastered with mud and quite dark inside. Inside, on the floor, was the form of a person all wrapped up, including the head, in a grey blanket. An ember glowing on the floor was the only light available so I opened the door wide.

I bent down and spoke, wondering if this person was still alive. When I touched the body, it moved then rolled over to face me. It was an old woman, very ill, most probably with pneumonia as well. We prayed for her and were very glad we made it there to help her when we did.

It must have been Geriatric Visits Week because our next visit was to yet another elderly woman. She wasn’t as ill as the previous one, and she had quite the wit and sense of humor about her. She’s 101 years old according to her birth record.

It’s wonderful to witness a return to health. Below is our pneumonia patient on day 5 of his recovery, smiling big and enjoying life again. So far, the others are doing better as well.

Until next time!