Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Ivoloina Lemur Park

This past weekend we had an opportunity to go to Ivoloina Lemur Park and nature reserve.  It was a wonderful trip (and special festival so free to get in!).  The lemurs were cute and interesting animals.  They grunt like little pigs.  Who knew?  We also had a wonderful hike to a small waterfall and around the surrounding area.  Our guide was very knowledgeable and went out of his way to help us learn.  In addition to the lemurs we were introduced to several common things in their 'natural habitat': cinnamon trees, clove trees, vanilla plants.  We also saw acacia trees, which is the wood Roman Catholics burn for incense during mass.

Vanilla bean hanging.  It takes a lot to turn it into what we use to bake with.

Here's the kiddos with their friend Caleb, who came along with us.

Here's a clove tree.

Our guide standing next to an acacia.

We actually got to hold the Chameleons!

A jackfruit tree.

Here we are at the waterfall (water trickle...)

Mamma lemur with a baby on her back.

The local villagers make these baskets - here's just a few being transported:)

Cinnamon tree.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Ups and Downs

The first week of screening has been fantastic.  Everything has been calm and orderly.  The Malagasy people are very respectful and warm.  Official numbers are not yet available but several thousand lined up from Monday - Friday.  It has been a joy interacting with those in the line and playing with the kids...bubbles have been a crowd favorite.  Friday I got to spend time coloring pictures, making paper airplanes, and kicking a ball around with a number of the kids that were waiting to be seen at the primary screening station.

It works like this: out of the many that line up, only a percentage will be there for medical issues that we can treat (even though we've announced in several ways what we do and do not do); the are seen by a 'pre-screener' who stands at the front of the line and determines if someone is a possible surgical candidate or not;  and those that are go through the gate and then began to be formally screened inside the facility (lots of questions, an exam, patient history, etc.).  After this process they are either given an appointment card, put on the waiting list, or, unfortunately, told that we cannot help them.  This last group is given the option to spend time being prayed for.  It is heartbreaking to seem them come so far and then be ruled out for surgery but there are some things we simply cannot fix.

Whether the 'no' comes at the pre-screening station or after the full screening, it is always hard.  This is especially true when we see kids that have terrible conditions that are terminal, outside of our scope of practice, or things that simply can't be helped (e.g. cerebral palsy).

So, it's Ups and Downs: the joys of knowing that there are many who we can help and thousands more that we cannot.  Please keep me, the screening team, and all who volunteer with the screening process in your prayer - and especially those who we cannot help.  Physical ailments are hard enough in someplace like the United States.  Imagine the challenges of having a disabled child, an inoperable condition, or a terminal ailment in a developing nation with little infrastructure and very, very little by way of healthcare services.