Thursday, November 8, 2018

A Day with "Enable the Children"


"I would search my heart and cry out to God to reveal to me what sin I had committed that had resulted in the birth of my disabled child…. Today I thank God for the teaching I have received. I don’t know why my child is disabled, but it is not because of something I have done. Only God knows why and my responsibility is to take good care of my son.”

Thirty children with disabilities and their parents listened to the testimony of one of the mothers who attended our day with “Enable the Children”, an organization under World Hope International (https://www.worldhope.org/our-work/health-and-nutrition/enable-the-children/). Last month, this mother took part in our “Theology of Disability” seminar for church leaders and other interested people.  Now she could use what she learned to encourage others.

On Tuesday November 6, a team of seven rehabilitation therapists and counsellors from Enable the Children (including our friend Anna Vines) travelled from Freetown to Mattru to provide free assessments for the children with disabilities we have come to know through our work at the hospital. Over the last two weeks, as I was writing up profiles and taking pictures to prepare for the visit, we discovered that we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg. One day Jon & I went to a nearby village to find a boy with microcephaly I had lost touch with. Once people heard what we were doing, they brought us to a 2-year-old with severe bow legs, a deaf boy, and a boy with learning disabilities due to a congenital syndrome. We listened to their stories and decided give them an invitation as well.

We told the majority of children to come at 9 am and parents and children waited patiently for their turn to be seen. Two-year-olds to seventeen-year-olds enjoyed the wooden puzzles, stickers and coloring pages we provided.

So what were some of the things that were done?
  • Osman, seven-year-old with clubfeet was referred to a free surgery program. We are hoping and praying that his family will receive the support to spend two to three months in Freetown before and after surgery.
  • Ansumana, a three-year-old who spends his days slumped in a upside-down little table (hanging on to the bars between the wooden legs) was given a wheelchair which will help his posture and prevent contractions.
  • Fatmata, who has a deformed leg, received new crutches adapted to her height.
  • Bockarie and Yeama, two teenagers, received wheel chairs.
  • Maseray received leg splints which she will have to wear at night to straighten her legs.



The caregivers who came along with these children (and quite a few others who didn’t need equipment) were taught how to do stretches and exercises to treat or prevent contractures or strengthen muscles.

The parents of Swaray, Kadiatu, Umu, Jinna, Davida and many others were counselled on teaching self-care skills, handling unwanted behaviour, etc. The caregivers of Mohamed Ali and Thomas were given exercises that can help improve speech.

Soon after the registration opened in the morning, a grandmother showed up carrying a severely disabled seven-year-old grandson. She begged that we would see him too. The team was able to assess him and take his measurements for a special chair which we are hoping to collect in Freetown soon.

We were not able to help everyone. Hawa, a twelve-year-old girl, sustained serious injuries to her left lower arm in an accident. No help was sought, the bones got infected, and her hand ended up severely deformed. An X-ray revealed that her wrist bones were basically gone. Surprisingly, Hawa has still a little use of her fingers. Surgery is too complicated for this country and all we can do is encourage her. Thankfully she lives very close to us so we frequently meet her on our walks.

Volunteers who had participated in the Theology of Disability training helped out in registering children and serving food. It was encouraging to see them put into practice some of the things they had learned.

After lunch we gathered everyone together to listen to teachings by the Enable the Children team on Cerebral Palsy and Autism. A mother gave her testimony and we enjoyed a live performance of the song “Noto debul, noto witch”, addressing the stigma that affects children with disabilities in Sierra Leone (https://youtu.be/OpvepJMRt84).

As everyone left, caregivers were already asking when the next meeting will be! The Enable the Children team has promised to come back in April, but we hope to be in touch with the children and their families and are looking forward to a Christmas celebration in December!

Please join us in prayer for this ministry. There is a definite need and we are prayerfully discerning how this work can be continued. We are grateful for the encouragement of local believers whose hearts God has touched as they attend our meetings. May they continue to be instruments in the hands of our Father.


Behavioral Counselling for Caregivers
Physical therapy assessments
Jon took a day off from his hospital work (or at least attempted to!). His support has been a major blessing both in his medical care of the children and the love he is showing them. 
Listening to the teaching.
Blessed by the love I see in this mother's eyes.
No doubt this little boy is happy!
Proud owner of a wheel chair.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Back to Work


Getting back to work at Mattru has been good.  We have been pleasantly surprised by the persistence of power during the rainy season.  We have had a couple of outages at the hospital, during very cloudy, rainy weather, but in general, the 24-hour power puts us in a very unusual position in the country of Sierra Leone. Perhaps some of the credit goes to a less severe rainy season, but for whatever reason, we are grateful for the efforts of the project that has provided plenty of power for the hospital.
Through our sending organization EMM, we were blessed with a mission intern, Rebekah Steiner, for the 3 months of summer.  Rebekah is a delightful young lady who spent most of her time in the laboratory at the hospital, assisting them in writing protocols, and increasing their knowledge of lab procedures, among other responsibilities.  In only 3 months, she was given kudos for learning the Mende language better than all of the long-term missionaries, and with a much more authentic accent.  We enjoyed having her here and livening up the nights by playing games, playing her ukulele, and visiting often.  We said good-bye to her at the end of August, as she returned to Switzerland where she lives in Basel pursuing her advanced degree.
We were also getting ready to say good-bye to daughter Kristin and Karlin after their 5 years here in Sierra Leone.  That is hard in that it is the first time that we will be here in the country without family around.  They are returning September 12 to the US for the birth of their first baby, and to spend some more time in education.  We were privileged to visit them in Freetown the first weekend of September, and Heleen attended/assisted with a baby shower held by Kristin’s friends there. We treasured the times that we were able to spend with them before heading back to Mattru.

Rainy season means muddy cars! The bottom of the car washes clean when we get on the ferry! :)

Hospital transitions continue here as well.  We said goodbye to Reverend Gbando, the administrator, as he continues his pastor work again, effective July 1st.  Pam McKee is the acting administrator for the transition period, and we are glad to have her in that position.  We were also joined by Mohammed Allieu, a surgically trained CHO (community health officer) who is well trained for those frequent surgical cases that we have.  We are glad for his assistance in the hospital.  We also have continued our training of other medical personnel.  Right now, we have 10 CHO students who are rotating in our hospital for the next 3 months.  It is a good opportunity to minister to them, and help with training for the future health care of Sierra Leone.
Jon making rounds with some of his CHO Students.
The days in the hospital continue to be at times draining both physically and mentally.  Saturday, September 8th was an example.  After the death of a young child in the wee hours of the morning from severe malaria, it was followed by two neonatal deaths within 1 hour the same morning. One was a completely healthy newborn that was discharged that morning on rounds with the mother after a normal hospital delivery and stay, and inexplicably died while the mother was waiting by the side of the road for transport back to her village.  The other child was less of a shock, a 1 kg child born by premature labor who died after two days of tenuous life.  Death is never far from life here, and it takes a toll on families and staff alike.
Also on Saturday the 8th, there was also an “Opening of School” celebration with the children with disabilities that Heleen has been working with. Most of them do not attend school due to the severity of their disability, but three will continue their education (although they have basically been stuck in Classes 1 and 2 – there is no special education here…) and one is starting for the first time. He is not really disabled, but has epilepsy, which in Sierra Leone is often a reason to exclude a child from school. We were able to get him some epilepsy medication and are looking forward to seeing him in his school uniform soon! It was a precious time again as we listened to the story of David & Mephibosheth, talked about different emotions we can have, practiced our letters and numbers and learned about epilepsy. With these meetings we hope to not just to bring some light and joy in the lives of the children, but also to encourage their parents.

Three of the "school boys" - happy with their bags!

Starting at the end of this month we are entering a busy season with steady stream of visitors: two engineers who come to make preparations for the renovations of the Maternity Ward; our dear friends Carl & Deborah; our UB Global director and finally a resident and a medical doctor. We will keep you informed of our adventures!

Friday, August 24, 2018

Heleen writes about her work...


I have never shared much on this blog about my work with child victims of gender based violence. I am very much aware of the sensitivity of the cases we deal with so it is hard to know how and what to write. But yesterday as I was talking to Jon after a day’s work, he suggested I make an attempt.

Some of the cases are just plain heart-wrenching because of the young age of the girls that are affected. The five-year-old admitted at our hospital with internal damage due to rape. The four-year-old timidly sitting in my office between her father and mother. She was raped by a neighbour in her parent’s bedroom… The ten-year-old who thought she found refuge from her violent uncle at a neigbor’s house, only to be abused by him.

Children in Sierra Leone are not taught to talk about their emotions. If you ask how they are feeling, you usually get a simple: “I feel fine” or “I don’t feel fine”. Some years ago my niece, who is an illustrator, helped me develop some emotion pictures that I have found to be very helpful in counselling. The pictures show a little girl’s face expressing happiness, sadness, fear, anger, and shame, the last being an important emotion in this culture and in the lives of the girls we are dealing with. 

 Once we explain to them the different emotions, I find it amazing how well most young children are able to identify their feelings: I felt sad after it happened, I was angry with the man… Interestingly, but sadly, the fear that many of them express is often not directed towards the perpetrator, but towards their caregivers, their parents, their aunties or uncles: What will they say after they find out what happened? This fear is not ungrounded; we have seen many girls, even very young ones, being held responsible for the violence done to them. It is hard to explain, but where we as outsiders see young, innocent girls, this culture (where until recently child marriage was the norm) often sees a woman in the making, purposefully attracting the attention of men.


Of course this opinion is even stronger when it comes to older girls. Their situations are often more complicated and require a lot of (cultural) wisdom, one reason why it is very good to have the local nurses involved in the work. In this age group we still see girls who are plainly raped and who do not want to have anything to do with the perpetrator. We also see a lot of girls who are brought in by their parents who do not agree with their daughter’s decision to become sexually active with their boyfriend.  Once they find out who the boyfriend is, they take their daughter to the police to file a rape case against the boy. Many of the girls receive a severe beating from their parents before legal action is taken. Some girls have their heads crudely shaven. Although I often share the concern of the parents, especially if the “boyfriend” is many years older, I also feel deeply for the girls who grow up in a very broken culture with many distorted views of gender and sexuality. The pressure on girls to have sexual intercourse is extremely high. Young people are increasingly exposed to media that promote a culture of promiscuity and there is a lot of confusion about what is “normal”. Western organizations come in and promote the use of contraceptives. Although I am aware of the tragic stories of unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions (we see the results of that at the hospital too), I am not sure that putting girls on contraceptives in the last year of primary education (which I am told one organization is doing) is the solution. In a culture where girls and women have very little power and are still seen as the property of men this can easily lead to abuse, as there is no risk of pregnancies. The ease with which men use and abuse girls breaks my heart. One 13-year-old girl told me yesterday how she had agreed to have her virginity taken by a young man whose name she didn’t even know. As she was left, bleeding and in pain, she regretted her decision but there was no way back.  

At the Psychosocial Unit we listen to the stories, we encourage and advise the girls, we “beg” the parents. “Bad bush no de fo trowe bad pikin,” I told a mother this week. “There is no bush to throw away a bad child.” Even if your child is severely disappointing you, she is your child, and God entrusted you with the responsibility to guide her towards adulthood. Your daughter needs you, and if you stay this angry, you will only drive her away from the home.

Whether the child and her parents are Christian or Muslim, I often ask if we can pray for them before they go. This is never denied; people appreciate prayers, whatever religious background they have. So we pray. And we ask for God’s mercy. Whether the situation was broken because of violence or because a young girl did not realize how valuable she is, and how she should be respected, not used, loved, not lusted after, we have a God of great redemption.

“O Israel, hope in the LORD!
For with the LORD there is steadfast love,
and with him is plentiful redemption.”
Psalm 130:7

In the midst of brokenness, it is good to rejoice in the beauty around us. Here are some pictures taken by our intern Rebekah Steiner around our house:








Sunday, June 17, 2018

Restoration


     A lot has happened since we last shared the sad news of Sombo’s death in March. Late March brought Heleen’s niece Francis to Sierra Leone. Together with her friend Koosje she spent almost six weeks in Mattru as part of their gap-year program at a Bible School in the Netherlands. Highlights included weekly meetings with the children with disabilities that Heleen has been working with. It was beautiful to see the children flourish as they participated in fun activities in a safe environment. During their stay we also welcomed Joe, a final-year medical student from the UK, Michelle, our UB Global director, and Hannah, an X-ray technician from the US.  Their presence and help in the hospital were a real blessing to Jon. Dr. Richard and Cathy Toupin arrived in April to stay on during part of our upcoming leave. Knowing they would be there part of our time away made it easier to leave the hospital behind.
This girl with Down Syndrome loved baking peanut butter cookies!
The meetings gave us an opportunity to observe the children's skills in a safe environment.
Jon & Joe on rounds. 



Hannah - always full of joy and compassion.
     We have known since we left for Africa that we had to return the US to update Heleen’s green card.  After two years of a temporary green card, you need to repeat fingerprints, and that only can be done in America.  So in January, we were notified that she had an appointment for seven days later to get her fingerprints in New Orleans.  We wrote back to reschedule the appointment, and they soon had rescheduled, again for six days later.  That time interval is next to impossible in a foreign country, so we spent a long time researching and calling America for a solution.  Several of the people we were able to talk to after finally getting through to immigration were helpful, but their advice and special tips were all unsuccessful.  But one person did advise us to write and explain our situation and we also saw on internet that some people advise just showing up for fingerprints without an appointment, and throwing yourself on the mercy of the fingerprinting location.  So we wrote a long letter to immigration, explaining all about our problem of staying in a remote area in Africa, and that we would like an appointment in May.  We then bought tickets for our leave and hoped to show up for the fingerprints.  There was no answer to that letter.
    We arrived in America for a much needed break, and made plans to go to Salisbury, MD, close to Jon’s parents’ home in Delaware for the fingerprints.  However, it was uncertain whether they would accept someone without an appointment, and so it was with great relief and an answer to prayer that we got a letter from immigration after the three month of silence and it stated that they had reviewed the case and they would use all the information from the last time that Heleen had her interview, including the fingerprints!  We have never heard of that happening before, and in fact, if that letter had arrived before we left Sierra Leone, we probably would have stayed on until next year.  The only explanation is that we had a huge need for a break and it was so special to see family and friends again, in America as well as in the Netherlands.  We think God reached down and touched the psyche of some immigration officer with pity and we thank God!
     So began a wonderful time with family and friends...it was a blessed five weeks.  We were able to meet our youngest granddaughter, born while we were in Africa.  Her name is Lily, and she is such a cute little girl, as I am sure you will agree after looking at her picture.  Not to be outdone on the cuteness scale were our three grandsons, who were just such a delight to talk to and find out what is happening in their families as well.  Our children are continuing to follow the Lord, some of them with new careers, so it was a special time to catch up with their lives.  And in the short time there, we were also able to go to Delaware to visit with Jon’s parents.
Lily - nine months old, in a dress worn by her mother and made by Grandma Dawn.
The boys loved seeing Greenie again and made sure he got introduced to their new living environment! 
David & Amber with Patrick & Lily.


Celebrating our third wedding anniversary! 
"Papa" got to read many stories! (with a few cousins of Ethan & Caleb in the mix)

Father & Sons :)
Getting to know Lily. She warmed up to us pretty quickly!


Celebrating Ethan's fifth birthday.
Stephen & Amy.


    We were saddened to hear of the untimely death of Michael Josiah, our trusted surgical technician.  His illness was sudden and occurred soon after we left Sierra Leone.  “Josiah”, as we called him, was married only 3 months before his death (see our blog of January), and had selected Jon as his “Godfather” for the wedding.  We never were quite sure what all the responsibilities of that position were, but spiritual and emotional advice, as well as monetary support… This news hit us very hard, and we felt for the team members that were still back in Mattru struggling with this severe trauma…It was and continues to be a devastating loss for the our team here in Mattru.
Michael Josiah on his wedding in January.
    On to the Netherlands, where we were able to help Papa and Mama van den Brink celebrate their 55th wedding anniversary, and also to get together with Heleen’s brothers and sisters and their family.   Heleen also met with her professor there and with the encouragement she received, has felt the go ahead to continue with her doctorate studies. 
    A precious time, a renewing time, but it feels like home again when we come back to Mattru…the car is sputtering, supplies are short in the hospital, and we are scrambling to keep up with the work---yes---we think we are home…
We were given this picture (of the prayer time at the end of our presentation at our home church) to remind us of the many people praying for us at home. It has been a real encouragement to hear how many of our friends have had a burden to pray for us.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Sombo

     This week we learned of the death of Sombo, the little girl pictured in our last blog, receiving the backpack after she was seen by the medical team. This is what Heleen wrote tonight:


Dear Sombo,
     I won’t forget the day that I first met you at the Pediatrics Ward. You were lying still, your lips blue, your breathing labored. Your sweet face told me you were born with Down syndrome. Hospital staff, fellow patients and visitors looked at you with a mixture of concern and curiosity, maybe with a hint of fear. Children who are “different” are watched with suspicion in this culture. I smiled at your mother and tried to talk to her but she only understood Mende, a language I have not been able to capture. Your father spoke Krio, so he and I talked about you: how you were the last child born to your slightly aging parents. He told me how up until last Saturday you walked and talked and played. And then suddenly you got sick. Very sick. “Malaria and pneumonia,” my doctor husband told me. “And her heart is having trouble too.”
     I met another lady at your bedside. She had a sweet smile and spoke Krio. Her face showed only concern, not fear. Soon I found out she was the mother of Ivril, the teenage girl with Down syndrome I had met in town. The mothers had realized their children were “the same”. And during your admission Ivril’s mother was a great comfort for your mother.
     Slowly we began to see some improvement. You opened your eyes and looked with interest at the “pumoi” (white) doctor who came to check on you every morning. And when I brought you a soft, white toy seal you smiled and held on tight to him. When the time came for you to go home you still were not strong enough to walk. So I took our car and drove you and your mommy home. When we got down from the car by the little lane leading towards your house, your sister came running up to you: “Welcome! Welcome! Welcome!” For her you were not “different”. You were her sister and she clearly loved you.
      Over the next few weeks we visited regularly. Other people came along: my husband the pumoi doctor, a nurse and a special needs teacher from America, another friend, and another one, and another one… You clearly enjoyed the attention. Your big smile told us you were happy to see us, even though your only words in Mende were often “Go away”. It made us smile. It made me sad too. Where had you learned those words? Was it what other people told you? Or did you learn them to defend yourself from people who did not treat you with the kindness you deserved?
     Slowly you regained strength. On December 17 you came beautifully dressed in your “Ashobi” (matching outfit) to our Christmas Party. Did you understand what we tried to tell you? That you are special, precious, created by our good God? That this same God sent His child to this world to make all things well again?
     In January you came back to the hospital. Our new ultrasound machine made it possible for the doctors to check your heart. “Tetralogy of Fallot”, was their conclusion. It could be fixed, but not in Sierra Leone. Should we consider sending you abroad to have your heart repaired? Was it worth the pain, the trauma? Would the quality of your life really improve as a child with Down Syndrome in Sierra Leone? We were not sure… You were happy, and loved; very much loved by those around you. But you were also vulnerable--without education, and always dependent on others. And that would not change.
     And then two days ago, we met your father on our evening walk. “Sombo has died,” he told us, sadness on his face. “She was not sick. She just started to shake, so her mother took her outside. And then she was gone. We buried her today.”
     What happened? We don’t know. Most likely your little heart failed.
     Today we took the long walk to your house. Your father had gone to the mosque to pray. Your mommy cried softly. “Her time had come,” your big brother told us. “God took her.” “I believe Sombo is in a good place now”, I told your mommy. “She no longer struggles; she is well. But we will miss her.” And thinking of the many misconceptions about disabilities in Sierra Leone, I added, “Thank you for caring for her. I know God will bless you for that.”
     And so we say goodbye, Sombo. We are grateful for your life. You have gone before us. You are seeing the face of Him who told us: “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.” One day we will meet again. We will all wear our white “ashobis” and bow before the throne. No more syndromes. No more broken hearts. And He will wipe away our tears.
“When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be.
When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory!”


Sombo at our Christmas party, wearing her "ashobi". 

Monday, March 5, 2018

Visitors in Mattru

The last few weeks have been full of activity in Mattru Jong.  In January, we had a team from Engineers Without Borders come for a couple of weeks.  Their task was to work on some projects at Centennial High School, and supervise the building of latrines for the outpatient department of the hospital.  This was quite a necessary project, as the administration and outpatient wing of the hospital were built without any bathrooms whatsoever.  With the poor conditions of the other bathrooms in the hospital, there was no place for relief, so to speak.  So we enjoyed getting to fellowship with them, and we are enjoying the extra bathroom space. 

Immediately following them, Dr. Ron Baker and Elaine Metzger (nurse and wife of a former missionary doctor) led a team of 6 physicians, and a teacher/maintenance person here for 10 days.  Dr. Baker is a legendary person in this area. His father started Centennial School back in the 1950s, and he grew up here, before coming back to Mattru as a medical doctor for many years.  In fact, we often heard about his exploits even in Freetown, when we first came to Sierra Leone.  One person we met on the street in Freetown told us that “if Dr. Baker said you would live, you would live, and if he said you would die, you would die.”  I would love to have that kind of power…Anyway, with his ability to speak Mende, and his previous work here, he is much loved, and patients flocked to the hospital to see the team.  This made a couple of very busy weeks, but it was nice to have a surgeon on staff here to do the more difficult surgeries that we had saved up for him. 

Jon and the Medical Team held a clinic for the children with disabilities that Heleen is working with. Here Jon and Dr. Baker are seeing a little boy with Down's Syndrome. 
With the new ultrasound machine the doctors were able to do an echocardiogram for one of the children with a heart defect.
Kids for Peace (USA) made it possible for every child to receive a backpack with some toiletries, a toy and a small book.
The following week, our US director, a pastor from a UBC church and one of his members came here on an exploratory trip to see how they might assist the businesses that support the hospital.  This was a very good trip as well, and hopefully will lead to partnerships in the very near future. 

We continue to find pleasure in long walks in the forest or around town, and seeing the beauty around us.  We also have things that brighten up the day, like the time a little kid got up on the roof of the neighbor’s house, much to the consternation of his mother bleating away on the ground. An interested crowd of onlookers helped until he finally found his refuge back down on the ground…
Up a creek without a paddle.

Where is my pace-setter?  Oh, yes, she is taking the picture!

2 Roads diverged in a brownish-green wood

This week Sierra Leone will elect its next president and parliament. Over the past weeks Mattru has hosted frequent rallies of the main political parties and last week over 350 people were trained in election procedures. Wednesday is the big day. We will be lying low, avoiding unnecessary travel, and hopefully start a new puzzle! Please join us in prayer that everything will work out peacefully. May God bless this country with leaders who will serve their people with integrity.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Opening X-Ray Department


Back in the early 90s, the rebel war reached Mattru Jong.  Many of the hospital workers fled for their lives.  Pa French, the surgical assistant at the hospital (and still an important member of the hospital surgical team) knew the rebels would conscript him to treat their wounded, and so he escaped to Sherbro Island, off the coast of Sierra Leone, and safe from the rebels.  You can read about some of the events surrounding that time in A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah, a former child soldier from a village near Mattru Jong.  The rebels took over the hospital and used it for their headquarters.  Along the way, someone decided the x-ray machine would be worth some money for the rebel cause, so they put it on a boat on the river to be taken to Guinea. In the journey, the boat overturned and the x-ray machine was lost.  Since that time, the UBC Hospital here has not had regular x-ray, except for a very short time, when they had a machine that also was stolen. 
This week marked the culmination of almost a year of work in trying to re-establish the x-ray department of Mattru UBC Hospital.  How did it happen?  We contacted our good friends Jan & Woutera Vierhout who lead the Kushe foundation in the Netherlands.  Kushe is a word that is used in Sierra Leone both as both a greeting and to express appreciation for whatever someone is doing. The foundation has been instrumental in helping with projects here in Sierra Leone over many years. The Kushe Foundation applied to the Wilde Ganzen (Wild Geese) foundation for a matching grant. Heleen’s brother Henk is an expert with medical imaging, and with his help, a very good deal was obtained with a used digital x-ray machine. The advantage of going digital is that there are no actual x-ray films or developer solutions needed, but everything is developed in the machine and read on computers.  That is huge in a country like Sierra Leone, where films and developer solutions are not easily available. For a relatively small amount, the company offered us a used ultrasound machine as well. Currently we have a portable ultrasound which has been a blessing, but it is somewhat limited in its capabilities. We decided it would be good to purchase the two machines at once so shipping costs could be combined.
With the incredible support of many supporters in the Netherlands and the US, the 26,000 dollars needed were raised in record time, 3 months to be exact.  It was very moving that Marvin Beachy, one of our good friends who was dying of cancer, got up in our home church his last Sunday there, and in his weakened condition appealed for the church to help the hospital get the x-ray machine. He was very instrumental in raising the funds needed for the machines.
So why does it cost 26,000 dollars, you might ask?  We allowed money for shipment, training, x-ray room refurbishment, a computer for viewing x-rays, import duty fees and transportation from Freetown to Mattru, all of which swelled the 18,000 dollar cost for the two machines.  A real miracle it all came together in such a short time!
Arrival of the X-Ray Machine - the crate weighed 830 kg, 
so we were grateful for a truck with a crane!
Will the chains hold? We were glad when the crate touched the ground!
And so, as of January 24, 2018, X-ray is back at the UBC Mattru Hospital!  An official opening was held and celebrated at the hospital, complete with soft drinks and snacks for all the staff and invited guests.  Believe it or not, we still have the X-ray technician from those early days working at the hospital, and it is amazing to see his rejuvenation with bringing back X-ray here.
An X-Ray Technician from Freetown came over to train our staff on the use of the machine.
It was a great opportunity to get a chest x-ray of a little girl who had trouble breathing.
Mr. Jombla, our x-ray technician who in the absence of an X-ray machine faithfully continued to serve the hospital in the TB and Leprosy program.
Opening Celebration

We have already diagnosed a couple of significant injuries and illnesses that would not have been possible to accurately diagnose before.  So we say thank you, dankuwel (Dutch), tenki (Krio) and bissi-ay (not the way you spell it, but we are trying to help your Mende vocabulary)!!
It truly is a blessing to have this equipment, and the people of Mattru Jong are grateful.      
Jon demonstrating the ultrasound machine.

Ouch!!