Downtown – Lumumba Road

A few weeks ago, Tim and I were out of the hospital, running errands.  There is one main road in Lusaka, running North and South – the Great North Road.  It changes names several times, and in the middle of the city, it is quite crowded – street vendors, turn lanes, traffic circles, robots (traffic lights are called “robots” here!), pedestrians, etc.  (I’ll try to post pics of this sometime in the future!)  In an effort to prevent even more congestion, a bypass road was built to serve industrial traffic (big trucks) to the downtown area.  I had never been on this road, so Tim drove us that way – to bypass the midday traffic jams, and to show me a new-to-me area of the city.

There are huge trucks driving along here, so there are also huge potholes, road IMG_20140514_125449672 IMG_20140514_125409219_HDR copyconstruction, and blocked-off lanes.  In addition, there are a lot of small stalls set up along the curb.  Many of these are right in front of stores, selling the same goods.  This is a popular area to shop, to find a bargain, IMG_20140514_125621418_HDR copyalthough I have to admit that it intimidates me – the crowds, the pile of goods, and the reputation of pickpockets all serve to make me more comfortable shopping  in the more “western” parts of town – in malls, with cash registers, fixed prices, etc.

IMG_20140514_125645691 copyCan you see the man selling cold drinks (balanced on his head) in the picture above?  One location had several vendors selling shoes, right in front of a large area of burning trash.  (photo to left)


Although it is very crowded and busy, it also seem so precarious and temporary. Goods for sale are tossed over a fence or piled on the sidewalk.  The number of shoppers varies by time of the month (very few still have money at the end of the month), time of the year (fewer people are out during rainy season or cold season). I was reminded of the verses in  James 4:13-15 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”  I want to live with an awareness that my days and plans are dependant on what the Lord wills!


Tim’s Birthday

Many people helped us celebrate Tim’s 60th birthday, so I thought I’d post a few pictures from the day.  We started before breakfast,Tim with stack of cards with a pile of cards and gifts on the table for him to open – a real treat!  Considering most mail has taken 3-6 months to arrive, it was wonderful to have two sets of visitors offer to carry cards, gifts, and birthday supplies in their luggage.

IMG_2048 baked oatmeal smallAfter an urgent request on Facebook, I had the recipe for baked oatmeal – a favourite of Tim’s, and something we had not made here.  Tim has a large cup of Starbuck’s coffee (thanks!), baked oatmeal, and is reading the BBC news on his iPad – a regular routine for Saturday mornings.

Tim ended up going in to work for about a half-day at the hospital, which gave him the opportunity to greet our newest visitors – including some from CURE HQ, who were in on the birthday surprise – it was fun, that he had opened so many cards and gifts before he saw them.IMG_2049 dinnerpartycopy

Saturday evening, we enjoyed dinner with two other couples, missionary friends we have met here.  We didn’t tell them it was Tim’s birthday, but they guessed, when they saw all the cards on display.  We had birthday cake, with candles, served on “Happy Birthday” plates and napkins – thanks, HH!!

IMG_2054litcake copyThanks to everyone who sent cards, gifts, party supplies, and emails, and extended birthday greetings to Tim on Facebook – he had a great celebration!


June Visitors

IMG_1790 copyJune is the start of a busy IMG_20140609_151427416_HDRseason at the Beit CURE Hospital.  In addition to the usual medical students, residents, and nursing students, Tim and I were delighted to host some family friends, Catherine and Connor.  They came for three weeks, staying with us at our apartment.

IMG_20140611_103703464_HDRDuring some of their visit, they wereIMG_1958 small helping us at the hospital – taking inventory, sorting out some IT issues, and painting.  They also were able to watch a variety of surgeries, and spent plenty of time playing with the children.

We went on a couple of “touristy” excursions while they were here – first, to a local elephant orphanage just outside of Lusaka.  IMG_20140607_120357292_HDR smallThe elephant mums were killed by poachers, and the young elephants were found by rangers, many in poor physical condition.  We arrived in time to see them run into the stockade area, being fed bottles by their handlers.  They are followed by at least two rangers at100_1825 small all times, assuring their safety and health.  They played with water barrels, tires, sticks – pestering each other over favourite “toys.”

The next weekend, we went down south for 3 days/2 nights.  When we arrived in Livingstone, we went to Victoria Falls.  After walking the many footpaths along the Falls, and up to the Zambezi River to see the top of the Falls, we left the park, and went to the historic bridge, crossing the river.  Along the way, we watched two baboons attack a woman to drag her shoulder bag off of her shoulder.  She ran away, screaming, and a nearby man came to her rescue, throwing rocks at the baboons.  None of us was quick enough with our cameras – we just watched, P1000352open-mouthed!  On the nextrhinosP1000445 small day, we went on a day safari to Chobe Park, where we saw numbers of animals, including a black-maned lion – a highlight of the trip!  On our last day, we went to a Zambian Game Reserve, where we saw the “wide” rhinos – endangered rhinos that are named for their wide lips.

P1000474 smallThey continued working on projects at the hospital, including lots of painting, and on Catherine & Connor’s last weekend with us, we went to a game park about an hour outside of Lusaka – driving on very dusty, bumpy, twisty dirt roads.  We saw a variety of animals, including some we hadn’t seen at Chobe – including the eland – the largest antelope, and ostriches!

We had a lovely time with Connor and Catherine, and are thankful for all the help they were, and for the work they did at the hospital!

More Maintenance!

team water break copyOne Saturday morning in December, Tim and I drove to the northern edge of Lusaka.  We live in the southeast part of Lusaka, and the hospital is just north of the city.  Across the street from the hospital is the Olympic Youth Development Centre, team water break copywhere the children of Zambia can go to practice sports.  There is a track and field, several swimming pools, a weight room, football (soccer) fields, etc.  The hospital has a football team, made up from various departments – maintenance, reception, kitchen, laundry, etc.  We went to watch a match – great fun!

The hospital has numerous opportunities for maintenance.  While Tim doesn’t usually do the work, he is very involved in the process.  Reviewing the potential tasks, setting a budget, arranging for the procurement of parts and tools, assigning the men, checking the progress – he is a project manager in many areas.

IMG_1212Last fall, it was determined that the incinerator needed a new smokestack.  This IMG_1214incinerator is used to burn the hospital’s medical waste.  About four months earlier, a smokestack had been made on site, using a thin sheet metal.  The corrosive smoke eroded the smokestack, and it was clear that a IMG_1301 copyreplacement was needed. After watching the football match, we walked across the street to the hospital to watch the installation of the new smokestack.  The new smokestack was ready-made, and made from a thicker gauge metal than was previously used.  It also was painted with paint, to further protect it from corrosion.  The maintenance workers removed the old stack and a new one was welded into place.  This smokestack is holding up much better than the earlier one!




IMG_1644 copyJust recently, the hospital had to move its large water tower.  This is a 50,000 liter storage tank, on a 10 meter tall metal tower.  Water is pumped up out of the borehole (well) and stored in the tower, then it is pumped down into the hospital, through a series of pipes.  The hospital has seven main buildings, plus a Guest House, smaller buildings, landscaping taps, etc., so there is a network of underground pipes supplying these locations.IMG_1640 copy

While the large tower was being emptied, cleaned, moved and refilled, we used a smaller tank connected to the same borehole, and hooked up to the same underground pipes.  IMG_1648 copyThe larger tank was moved to a different place on the hospital grounds so new pipes had to be laid to connect it to the existing network.IMG_1646 copy  This is all done by hand, with trenches being dug with pickaxe and shovel.  When the time came to hook up the water, we had to borrow a large wrench (“spanner”) from the IMG_1638 copycompany that moved the tank, to connect the giant pipes.  All of this work had to be coordinated with the surgery schedule, patient and staff needs, as well as the crane rental company.  Later, sand filters were added to both tanks, to correct for the amount of silt that accumulates – up to 12 inches/month!

Cleft Lip/Palate Week

For the fourth year in a row, Drs Clawson and Vessely have visited the Beit CURE Hospital, providing plastic surgery for many kids in Zambia.

The hospital started getting the word out last fall, notifying rural clinics and hospitals of the upcoming opportunity for children to receive free cleft lip or cleft palate repair surgery.  Tim and other doctors from the hospital were on the radio and tv stations, talking about the visit.  I handed out flyers at the ladies’ Bible study I attend.  It was on several different Facebook pages.  And the receptionist at the hospital contacted the children from last year, who needed followup appointments or more surgery.

Generally, if a child has both cleft lip and cleft palate, beforethe lip is repaired first.  This surgery is not as complicated or long, and makes  a huge difference in the child’s appearance, and ability to eat or breastfeed.  The child comes back the following year for cleft palate surgery.  We had people from 2 months to 21 years come to the hospital to see about surgery.

clinic blog The clinic was on a Sunday, and it was busy!  Some children were deemed ineligible for surgery – underlying illnesses, or having a condition that required a different specialist.  These children were told to come to the hospital in the fall, when we have another team of plastic surgeons coming.  Families came all throughout the week – even after the last surgery was completed on Friday afternoon!  The surgeons flew out on Saturday, so Friday afternoon was the end of operating hours.

It seemed as though just coming to the screening clinic was therapeutic for some of the families – seeing other children with similar conditions to their own kids’ created an opportunity to talk to others going through the same feeding difficulties, stigma, fears, etc. Since so many of the hospital’s patients come from outlying rural villages, for some of the families, this may be the first time they see another child with the same condition – whether it’s cleft lip, club foot or hydrocephalus.

paperwork blogThe OR list was sorted out by the surgeons, but then changed throughout the day, depending Tshoma blogon the child’s health that morning, unforeseen complications, etc.  Generally, the youngest kids (babies) were treated early in the day, since they can least handle “starving”  (fasting before surgery).  More OT blog3complicated cases were also often done early in the day – and were scheduled early in the week, to allow recuperation time before the surgeons leave the country.

family blogEach child came with one guardian (parent, grandparent, uncle, aunt, etc) to provide personal care – feeding, bathing, etc.  Some families came with multiple children, both parents, etc. – especially families that traveled a long distance – some people traveled 8-10 hours on a minibus to get to the hospital.  Our spiritual team had great opportunities to share the Gospel with the visiting families.

after blogAt the end of the week, we felt like we had seen miracles – children who have had difficulty eating, speaking, and who have been ostracised, are given new hope – not only surgically, but spiritually as well.

Staff Devotions

We have devotions every morning at the hospital.  IMG_1260On Mondays, Tim and I are part of a group that meets in one of the waiting room areas in the Administration building.  This is a multi-disciplinary group of employees, representing nursing staff, administration, housekeeping, human resources, Cure Clubfoot, the OT (OR), and the spiritual department.  Someitmes we go through a specific study, and sometimes one of us leads a discussion on a topic of his/her choice.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the departments meet for devotions.  I have not been at the hospital recently on a Tuesday or Thursday, so I can’t offer much insight into those meetings, but I know that Tim meets with others from the admin department.  Once a month, the admin group leads a devotional time on the Children’s Ward, so the guardians can participate.

choir copyWednesdays and Fridays are OPD singing2 copyhighlights – hospital-wide chapel services.  Generally, we start with singing – sometimes led by one of the women on staff, sometimes led by our choir.  The staff have great voices, fun clapping rhythms,  often there is a call-and-response, and I believe it is a foretaste of heaven!

Periodically, throughout my week in Lusaka, I want to pinch myself – I can hardly believe that Tim and I are actually living in Zambia.  This occurs occasionally during traffic, seeing the creative manoeuvring that goes on.  Sometimes looking at the trees and sky, remembering our premarital counselling 35+ years ago that was actually our minister’s reminisces about his time in Kenya.  Sometimes it is at a shop, when I am told that some staple item is “finished” and no-one knows when it will be restocked.  But most often, the “pinch me” moments occur during worship – in chapel or church.  I am delighted that Tim and I are having this opportunity!!

You, too, can hear the sounds of one of our chapel services, recorded on a staff member’s camera (not great sound quality) by clicking on this link: