Posted by: calloftheandes | November 12, 2010

Offering Clinics, Crayons as the Hands of Jesus in Burkina Faso

by R. Kurtenbach
In Colorado Springs, Colo., Beth Patton continues the HCJB Global drive to collect 640 crayons from staff members.

At a Colorado ranch, Nate Dell reviews his “tippy tap” instructions on turning a plastic bottle and string into a makeshift “faucet” to suspend from a baobab tree. The crayons will depart with Dell as he travels to the West African country of Burkina Faso.

Nate Dell with African friend, while on an earlier trip to Ghana

Dr. Steve Nelson and his wife, Dorothy, are part of the same medical team that leaves Quito, Ecuador, on Sunday, Nov. 14. In his Quito office, Steve is boning up on malaria. During his trip to Ghana earlier this year he wrote, “Almost every belly I felt had a large spleen, the telltale sign of living in a malaria zone and getting malaria over and over.” With some 10 episodes of malaria annually, the children are more prone to infections.

These little bared bellies, distended spleens and weakened immunities only begin to reveal the suffering in this region as yet a darker picture emerges. HCJB Global Hands nurse Jessica McMillan is bracing to confront an even tougher topic—female genital mutilation. The practice ties into what has been the fabric of traditional African culture, whereas Steve hones in on a pathogen that is merely biological.

The team’s African host, Etienne Kiemde of Radio Evangile Développement (RED), launched a radio campaign to combat this traditional practice. His efforts have sparked a favorable recognition from Burkina Faso’s government. “I think there’s international pressure [against this practice], so that’s probably why the government recognized him (Kiemde) in his program for what he was doing,” said McMillan.

“There are many medical complications that happen as a result of the scarring,” she added. A fistula (abnormal hole between an internal organ and the outside world) and infection can result. McMillan said she wouldn’t be surprised if some of the ailments the team finds in Burkina Faso are related to female genital mutilation. She has served as a nurse in Malawi and Ghana.

The team’s African partner has arranged a full agenda of medical clinics in villages around the capital, Ouagadougou.

Meanwhile, in Carcelén, Ecuador, Becka Weber brainstorms children’s activities even as she rocks babies at an orphanage. A 2010 high school graduate in Quito, Weber has dreamed of missions in Africa since childhood. This will be her first trip.

The nine-member team, led by nurse Sheila Leech (vice president of international healthcare), also plans to work at a clinic/orphanage that houses 75 children. It is directed by Joanna Ilboudo, a former manager at RED. Part of the team (those whose visa requests were granted) will also cross the border into Bolgatanga, Ghana. HCJB Global Voice staff member Joseph Kebbie plans to join the team there. Students at the partner’s school and radio station will from a medical clinic staged by the physicians and nurses.

Dr. Dora Leon and Dr. Xavier Sánchez are also part of the team. They are residents in the family practice program at HCJB Global’s Hospital Vozandes-Quito. Emily Martin, a U.S.-based mission appointee who anticipates future ministry in Ghana, completes the team.

Emily Martin

The director of HCJB Global’s Sub-Saharan Africa region, Lee Sonius, will oversee ministries of what is dubbed a medical trip. The children’s ministry, however, is integral to the effort, according to Steve, as “those kids are the ones who are first going to receive an impact regarding spiritual values or biblical principals if they (team members) can present it in a fun way.”

With facial antics, songs and activities, Dorothy has ministered to children around the world on other trips. And between the fingers of hundreds of Burkinabè (people of Burkina Faso) and Ghanaians, those 640 crayons will certainly be a lot of fun!

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