Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Colouring eggs

We have our Easter break now. We started it by colouring the Easter eggs Nanny sent and hung them over the table. We looked like we had coloured our hands too, it was lots of fun thanks Nanny. Then we made chocolate chip pancakes and mango smoothies - yum! We are very excited about Easter.

Hope you like them. Tom and Josh

Work experience

The high school students have just spent a week on work experience on the Ship, and the junior high students have joined them for two days. Tommy has been around and about the Ship taking pics for a display at some point so I have included a couple. The students have been working in engineering, the galley, the hospital, the dental team (off ship), hospitality, ship shop and cafe, preschool and grade 3 classes, library and transportation. They look like they have had a lot of fun and many of them have done some very cool things.

In the engine control room, sanding ready for painting
In the galley - preparing 'real' chips and homemade burgers - the high school kids got to help choose the menu this week while they were working there :-)
In transportation
Up the mast!!

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Dress Up - Theme: African

So this is the latest dress up day...

Josh in his African clothes with his piggy tied on with matching fabric! It is usually the women that carry the babies here but we have seen Dads bringing babies to the Ship on their backs occasionally.

Tom was going for the 'tourist on safari in Africa' look, with his binoculars and safari guide! He is hoping that we can go on Safari in South Africa and eat alligator meat.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

it takes all sorts...

We are always hearing that we are all part of the team or body of the Ship, no matter what our role. One role we are very grateful for is this one...

Fabulous bread on its way

 'Here is some I made earlier'

Albert has returned to bake for the Ship for another couple of months. He is rarely seen as he works most of the night from what Sam tells me, but we are very happy he is here and loving the croissant breakfast treats and fresh rolls - Thank you Albert!

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Dentists have seen 1000 patients!

As I heard in the dinner queue, the dental team have seen 1000 people in about four weeks. That is a lot less toothache - yeh! Well done!

For the dental stats and a pic of the 1000th patient (nothing gory!) see Ginis blog:

The dream is becoming a reality

I just realised that we never updated you all since posting about the auction of dreams....well in a period of 7 days the teachers raised the $8500 they needed to go to the conference in Kenya. There are some very generous people here and the teachers are very grateful to them! They will be leaving next Wednesday and will return on Easter Monday. Please think of them and keep them in your prayers over the next few weeks, they are so busy with everyday work, a training course they are doing on Tuesday evenings, accrediatation reading and paperwork, designing curriculums, getting ready for the high school retreat (the weekend after Kenya)....

The conference is from 7am to 9pm each day, and these ship holidays would have been the teachers only days off (besides weekends which most of them work much of anyway) between the Christmas break and the Summer break, they really need some strength to get through this!

Screening update

Screening is going really well here in Togo. Having said that we were planning lots of smaller screenings to prevent large crowds, some of the screenings attracted a good number of people. Many waited in line from the early hours of the morning to be seen, this being their only hope of having surgery. This has meant that already our surgery slots are filling up and remaining screenings may have to be cut down from what I have heard. There are always those that we have to turn away which is a struggle for the screening teams and crushing for the people concerned, but praise God that as our slots fill that each day more and more lives are being changed.

For some more pictures from Rachels blog, our screening co-ordinator see:

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Why did Mrs X die?

I have been reading the first of the World Health Organizations midwifery education modules. More than 500,000 women die of complications of pregnancy and birth each year, a number that it is hard to get your head around, but works out to be almost one every single minute. Next year we go with the Ship to Sierra Leone, the country currently with the highest maternal mortality rate and where midwives are working hard to set up a maternity clinic in Freetown at the moment.

The teaching started with a case story of Mrs X who died during labour.

"The physician in charge had no doubt why Mrs X died. It was a straight forward clinical diagnosis - a case of antepartum haemorrhage due to placenta praevia, which means that the placenta, or what we call the “afterbirth”, was situated too low down in the uterus". 

When the records were examined in more detail they found two factors contributed to her death:
  1. she had only a very small blood transfusion as the hospital didn't have any more blood
  2. there was a delay in getting the emergency caesarean section

So why did she really die?

In some parts of the world other factors come into play as well
  • was it that there was no transport so she had to walk or be carried to the hospital causing a delay in getting treatment?
  • was it that there was no doctor on duty or that she had no money to pay for treatment?
  • was it that risk factors such as bleeding during pregnancy were not picked up and recognised because there was no antenatal care?
  • was it that pre-existing conditions such as anaemia were not picked up and treated which made the birth more risky
  • was it that the village custom was to feed the men first or that certain nutritional foods were thought to be bad for pregnant women leaving her malnourished and less able to cope with childbirth?
  • was it that she already had five living children and was now an older mother, making this pregnancy more risky than previous ones, or that she had no access to family planning despite not wanting more children 
  • was it that she didn't even understand the need for health care outside what happens in the village or care by untrained birth attendants?
  • was it that she was from a poor household, illiterate and lived in a remote village making her risk of maternal mortalilty
    - five times more than the country average
    - ten times more than a woman of a higher socioeconomic standing in the same country
    -100 times more than a woman in a developing country.

Maybe it is not suprising that so many women die each year, we all know that some places don't even have clean drinking water or a hospital nearby. But it is so unfair, unjust, wrong that a woman's chance of dying in childbirth depends to such a large extent on where she lives. Back home it was so extremely rare for a woman to die in pregnancy or childbirth, but the blogs of midwives in the developing world suggest it is part of their working reality and will one day be part of ours. So what needs to happen? Answers may lie partly in training more midwives and improving knowledge of traditional birth attendants, but some of the answers lie within changing mindsets of cultures, placing a higher value on women's nutrition for example, and I have no idea just how hard that is. That is the challenge the teaching module gives to the participants, there is hope and potential for things to improve as individual communities are examined to identify factors compromising womens health and are challenged to make improvements.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

School photos

It was quite amusing to watch the school photos this morning when I took Joshua down to meet the bigger children. Firstly the biggest kids climbed on top of the landrover, next the middle sized kids were positioned around the landrover and then the little kids were brought in. And sat down on wiggle cars, and then told not to move. And then one kept walking off. And then when he was brought back the others weren't looking and so it went on. But somehow they managed it! These were just a couple I took while waiting for Joshua, I am excited to see the ones from the photographer at some point and to see if Tom was making the same screwed up smile in his individual picture on deck 8!

 Whole school including teachers
Kindergarten and Miss Estelle
Tom on the dock

Creative Arts fair

The creative arts fair started with some poetry readings, recorder playing, karate demonstrations and Toms class/Grade 1 singing
Tom's very bright concentric flower picture, using the idea of concentric lines from the work of Georgia O'Keefe (Ruth hope you like the art this year!)
 The nursery wall! 
Toms dragonfly directed drawing using the 5 basic elements of shape by Mona Brookes
The Z page of the alphabet book. The children in Kindergarten have all made an alphabet book with a picture and word for every letter. It was the first time in a long time that we have seen art work by Tom besides drawings of ships and planes!

Sunday, 14 March 2010

auctions and pink bows

Last night was the memorable 'Auction of Dreams'. The Academy teachers are hoping to go to the International Christian Educators conference at Easter (Yep in just a couple of weeks). This would be really beneficial for them as we seek our acreditation with ACSI, to be able to meet other teachers who have been through the process as well as attending some training and professional development sessions to improve their teaching.

They need to raise $7500 for their travel expenses, the conference costs have already been met and they have to pay for their own visas.

You could have been the winning bidder for a package of babysitting sessions, have baked goods delivered to your door fresh from the oven, hired a maid for the day or had a weeks holiday in South Africa. Tommy is cooking an Italian meal for 10 in a function room on the ship. If you weren't here you missed out.

I have to admit leaving the auction early. We have one of those rare breeds of children who actually ask to go to bed, an hour late already he decided it was time he went. So I missed some of the interesting bidding. The last lot was an auction of Ben, one of the teachers - to his suprise. The money went up slowly until there was bids for him to shave his head, beard and legs. Then Tommy was thrown into the bidding too to push the bid to $1000! When I returned to the cafe I was informed Tommy will soon have no hair and be wearing a pink bow on his head. And no they weren't joking.

The good news was that thanks to many very generous people who had a lot of fun bidding the teachers are well on the way having raised over $4000. We still need to raise a bit more so how much will anyone give me for a photo of Tommy with no hair and a pink bow??

Friday, 12 March 2010

our new toy

We now have a working room thermometer again :-)

To be honest it doesn't really make much difference, we can estimate the temperature. It ranges from being too uncomfortable to possibly wear jeans (well any clothes really but you have to be careful with that living communally and when you have children who unlock the door and let people in when you are in the shower)  to the warm but bearable, jeans probably still not the greatest idea, but I am going to wear them anyway as the 3/4 length trousers are still a little tight :-0

Last year it was always ridiculously hot, to be honest it was the only complaint about our cabin, we love it. This year it is a little cooler which we are pleased about. The third fan followed the steps of the fourth fan and died so it is just as well it is cooler, it jumped off the table one too many times during the sail, it was pretty determined that was the way to go.

In case you wonder, 5.30pm: 28.0 degrees centigrade. Curtains closed during the morning to keep the sun out and the two surviving fans on 24-7. So not exactly cold just yet, but a good couple of degrees cooler than last time we had a working room thermometer!

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

the mundane

Having said that we don't get to see a lot of what goes on in the hospital here is a little of what we are up to...

Sarah is learning about American currency. Tom's maths homework has been about money this week, counting pennies, counting up in tens...ok so the homework did suggest doing this with US currency I admit, but not having any we made do with good old pounds and pence that I have lying around. It was all going quite well, or so I thought until today when he brought home his maths book. The task at hand was to identify and then do some simple maths using the pictures of US coins. A brief moment of panic, when I realised that the coins don't have numbers on like ours and I have no idea what they are. So instead of admitting that I ask 'so do you know what any of these coins are?' And the reply 'of course, this is a penny or one cent, this is a nickel or five cents, this is a dime or ten cents, this is a quarter or twentyfive cents'. It is always great when they reply with that tone that says 'are you really stupid?' Anyway, good job Tom, you will be coming shopping with me everytime I am in the US next. (although I must have survived there before without having known what the coins were - probably that useful piece of plastic in my wallet has a lot to answer for).

Tommy has been setting up netbooks, having waited ages for them to arrive, he finally had them in possession yesterday, and has since barely been seen since while he has been getting them set up to give out tonight - for pics of the high schoolers receiving them and seeing that being a maths teacher has moments of making people smile, not just the hospital staff, see another friends blog:

Josh has been playing with his fire engine, which will not have any more pieces to fall off soon, having wet wednesday with a very restricted amount of water and having the odd time of being taught about the Romans whether he likes it or not, thanks to having a big brother who does not quite 'get' that he is only just 3. Oh and is sleeping much better now, we are really grateful that our friends have been praying about his nightmares - thank you!!

the stuff we don't see

There is so much we don't see of what goes on here, down on deck 3. On weeks like this one that feel like work is 24-7 it is great to hear the stories of some of our patients. Of the pure joy that is experienced and expressed just a couple of decks away because someone has just had surgery that might just change their life forever. I know I am linking to someone elses blog again but you will want to read this blog I promise. It is about one of the babies that has been on the feeding programme to get big enough for a cleft lip repair :-)

Friday, 5 March 2010

Running club has started

Thursday nights after dinner the children now head down to the dock for running club. Some warm up games to start, then running up and down the dock followed by a snack! They run down, round a post and back to get a hole punched in their paper. Josh kept saying he wanted a hundred punches, a little ambitious as each one was equal to quarter of a mile, but he did manage five, which was far more than we thought he would manage, especially as he kept telling us he was tired and asking if we could carry him. Tom managed nine laps, over 2 miles! Sorry for the rubbish pics, but they give you an idea..

Getting ready for warm up

Passing the chicken relay warm up

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Togo National Election today

Please be praying for Togo as the people have their election today, for peace and a fair result. The results should take about a week but may leak out before then. More info from the BBC:
hopes for a peaceful election this time
 talks about the different parties
gives a bit of history and overview of Togo