Sunday, October 28, 2012

Maraming Salamat, Ate Pami!

Stenciling in our main delivery room
I've just had a marathon of a week, beginning with sitting through horrific traffic for over 4 hours on Monday to pick up a team from my home church from the airport during their 10 hour layover back to the US, show them Shalom, and take them back to the airport to catch their flight. One of the team members, Jane, stayed to stencil Tagalog Bible verses on the wall of our new clinic. It's GORGEOUS! I dropped her off at the airport last night.

Touching up in our alternative delivery room
But one of the things short term visitors like to do is take a walk through one of the local communities we serve. You see, Shalom is actually located in a rather quiet area. We have a cock-fighting farm on one side, a farm/overgrown jungle on another side, and a subdivision on the other sides. Looking around, you really don't see too much poverty if you don't look too closely. However, just a 3 minute walk up the hill leads you to a very densely populated squatter community.

So, when Jane asked if we could go, off we went! As soon as we stepped off the road, we were inundated with children following us, asking for us to take their picture so they could see it on the digital camera. We stopped and bought a P1 (2c) miniscule bag of chips for a snack and continued on. When we stepped into a new area, a group of 8 kids went running up to me, "Ate," ("ah-tay," which means "big sister"), they cried, "I was born at Shalom!" All the other kids parroted the first kid. Of course, I had to get a picture with them...these kids, our legacy. These beautiful laughing children.

The awesome, photo-loving kids, doing our "wacky" shot
Later on during our walk after dozens of high-fives and spontaneous hugs, a young lady with a baby in her arms came running (literally, running!) up to me, "Maraming salamat, Ate Pami!" (thank you, Pami), "My baby was born at Shalom!" The little dude is 10 months old and an adorable chub. The mom was beaming and so excited to show off her son.

 And this folks, is why I love my job.

Because no trip to the barrio is complete without pop-in-a-bag

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Nurse, interior designer, and....ambulance driver?

I was already in a grumpy mood on Saturday morning. I found out on Friday night that we were going to have a meeting with our cabinet maker the following morning at 8am to discuss the plans. Now for most people this is no problem, the day's practically half over for them. But for me who needs one morning a week to sleep until my body naturally wakes up (nope, no kids yet!), I grudgingly agreed...

I woke up at 7:45, skipped the shower and make-up routine, threw on some clothes, and walked over to the clinic sans breakfast and coffee. I wanted to be able to go back to bed when I got back. Shortly after I arrived, Mavis finds me and says, "Did you get my text? I need you to take a post-partum patient with a large hematoma to the hospital." I was later disappointed in myself with how UNexcited I was to be able to serve in this way, but I knew that the other nurse had a volleyball tournament to go to (which her daughter was a player for)...

I walked back home to get my SUV and cracked a few yawns in the process. I pulled up to Shalom and saw the young mom, her mother, and two younger brothers, along with the sweet baby boy. The mom was obviously uncomfortable and very unhappy. Normally they are very grateful, but this mom was sullen and clearly miserable. We all piled in my car and after getting directions to the nearest public hospital that could help her, took off.

As we cruised down the road (I was so thankful this was not an emergency!), I started talking with the grandmother who was holding the baby. This was the first baby for the 19 year-old mom. She was worried about getting home, because her older daughter was there with her two little ones. The father of this other daughter was unemployed and out with his "barkada," or group of guy friends, drinking. He had left her and now her older daughter was a single mom with no source of income. She was worried the same was going to happen to the daughter laying on my back seat. The boyfriend was a lazy bum with no trade and frequently drunk. I glanced back at the daughter and she just glared at me.

We arrived at the hospital about 30 minutes later and I stayed in the car while the family helped get the patient out of the car. (Note - I would have liked to have helped, but as soon as they see a foreigner, the prices sky-rocket as the foreigner usually equals money)

My heart breaks for this new little baby. When I mentioned her attitude to the other midwives, they all agreed that she was very "suplada," Tagalog for snobbish or stuck-up. I have a feeling the grandmother will be raising this little boy, along with his two older cousins. Please pray for Nene, that her hematoma will resolve with no problems, that she will wake up and mature into an amazing mother, and for the new little one born into such tough circumstances.