I spent yesterday morning in the hospital. Having worked in hospitals for years they are places where I am used to being but while I was there I realised that there is a lot here that is different.
The most obvious are the language differences, we got to talk with a lady via a French speaking interpreter and then the French was translated into a tribal language by another patient's relative.
Another difference is the involvement of family - many people had brought relatives who slept on mattresses under the beds and yet many of the ladies for VVF surgery were here alone, having lost their only baby in childbirth and been deserted by their husbands.
These were differences I had anticipated - yet others were not and show I have lots to learn of their culture. You might expect that all the patients are very grateful, but mixed in with that they struggle leaving family to come, find it hard being in this environment which is so alien to them, they are sad when other patients leave quicker than them. We hope that surgery will change their future, that they will no longer be outcasts in their villages or towns, but things are not always that simple either for some. Women who have lost their family might not regain a husband just because they are now dry and children with cleft lips may still be considered evil because they have that label from birth, even if they are now healed. It is amazing privelege and yet an overwhelming challenge being in the hospital showing love to people.