Partners

14 11 2015

We just finished an exciting week with a medical mission team sent by Samaritan’s Purse Canada.

The Samaritan's Purse Canada Team with our midwives on outreach.

The Samaritan’s Purse Canada Team with our midwives on outreach.

The team, consisting of doctors, nurses, dentists, an opthamologist and various supporting members, reached out to six Butbut resettlement villages around Tabuk. Hundreds of villagers had teeth filled or pulled, were fitted with glasses and received medical check-ups from the docs.

One of the best things about the way that SP Canada run their missions, is that they partner with organizations already on the ground to make sure the outreach is not only effective but to also ensure that those who need follow-up, will get it.

 

Some villagers come for doctor check-ups.

Some villagers come for doctor check-ups.

This leads me into sharing about baby Charmee.

We met Charmee and her mother at one of the village outreaches. Charmee’s mother brought her for a check-up to see if the doctor could give vitamins because she was so underweight.

Underweight is an understatement. Charmee weighed 2.7kg at birth two and a half months previously and was now 2.8kg. Charmee was severely malnourished.

The doctor called me over to talk with the mom. We discovered that she was told by someone that she shouldn’t breastfeed because she had a cyst on her breast and now her milk had dried up and she was forced to bottle feed.

Charmee’s mother showed us the bottle that she mixed in the morning and fed her throughout the day until nighttime. At 10:00am the milk in the bottle was already sour and full of ants.

I talked with the mother and asked her to come to our clinic the next day so we could teach her thoroughly how to care for her baby. She told me that she would come. Her neighbors told me that she would not come because she was stubborn.

She didn’t come in the next day … or the day after. My staff and I started to lose hope that we would ever see Charmee again.

But then yesterday I got a call from the clinic to tell me that Charmee and her mom were there!

 

Charmee and her mother at the clinic.

Charmee and her mother at the clinic.

 

I rushed back to the clinic and my staff and I began the process of teaching the mother proper infant care and feeding. (Because she couldn’t read, instead of mixing 8 scoops of formula for 8 oz of water she had only been putting 2 scoops for 8 oz of water!)

We spent the morning teaching her how to properly mix the infant formula, to make only what the baby can eat at one sitting, and to feed with a clean spoon instead of the difficult to clean bottle and nipple. Charmee drank her first 3 ounces and gave us a big smile before she nodded off to sleep for 3 hours.

 

Charmee will be coming in regularly for weight and health checks.

 

Baby Charmee

Baby Charmee

Please pray for Charmee to gain weight quickly and regain her health and strength.

 

Thank you Samaritan’s Purse for helping us to make a difference in our community!





Good-bye Apu

6 10 2015
Apu with Emmaus a few years ago.

Apu with Emmaus a few years ago.

Apu Bas-il is one of the very first people I met when I went to Bugnay back in 2004. He was one of the oldest members of the community and also the most welcoming.

One of my favourite memories of Apu was back in 2005 when my fellow missionary Crystal and I were staying in Bugnay for a month. There had been a typhoon and the water source close to the village was cut off. Crystal and I had to hike down to the community bathing area for our baths. We chose a time of the day when all the men would be in the fields so that we could have privacy. So there we were taking our baths … and out of the trees pops Apu on his way to check on his tobacco. He didn’t even look twice at these two half-naked (okay pretty much totally naked) white girls. He just kept on his way saying “You are taking a bath, and I am going to the fields.” We stood there shocked for a few minutes and then burst into laughter.

When I married Apu Bas-il’s grandson in 2007 he couldn’t have been happier. He would often travel the 4-hour jeepney ride to visit us at our home in Tabuk and spend hours playing with my kids. He was an amazing, generous, gentle man.

Visiting Apu in Bugnay.

Visiting Apu in Bugnay.

Well, a few weeks ago I got a text message from the Bugnay staff that Apu was getting very weak and his children weren’t sure if he would survive the night. As soon as we got the text, Achao and his dad (who had been staying with us) left for Bugnay to see if anything could be done.

The Bugnay clinic staff also let us know that Apu had symptoms of a urinary tract infection. No one in his family wanted to take him to the hospital because he was old already and they didn’t think he could make the trip. So, my staff started him on IV medications and pain reliever for his infection and Achao brought up a new mattress and some pillows with him when he went.

A few days later our whole family went up to see Apu and to say good-bye to him. I prepared the kids that Apu would be very weak and thin and that he may have a difficult time speaking. I explained that we were going to say good-bye because he was going to go and be with Jesus soon.

The boys hike into Bugnay to visit Apu for the last time.

The boys hike into Bugnay to visit Apu for the last time.

Well, he was very thin and weak when we got there but he was comfortable. He knew all of us, which was so nice because a few days previously he wasn’t very lucid. We spent the day with Apu and fed him and talked to him. The kids all got to give him a kiss and say good-bye.

In his last few weeks Apu was not left alone for even a moment. One of his friends or relatives were always by his side until he passed on just last week.

Bugnay will not be the same without Apu Bas-il, but we are rejoicing with him that he is with Jesus and he has no more pain and has a strong body once again.





On A Personal Note …

16 09 2015

It is a rainy, cool day here in Tabuk City, Kalinga and I am having a quiet day at home. I was thinking that some of my blog readers may be interested in knowing a little about what our day-to-day life looks like here in the Philippines.

I imagine most of the joys and struggles that families experience are pretty much the same regardless of where we are in the world. However I suppose some things are different.

GROCERY SHOPPING

We usually get what we need for our meals every day at the market. We don’t have a big fridge (or ref as it is called here) so we hit the market every day and see what they have. Depending what time of year it is, different fruits and veggies will be available. It is an open market with people calling out to you to buy from them. Some days there will be frogs, eels, bats and maybe even be a cow’s head for sale. I usually skirt by those vendors and choose the chicken, Tilapia or beans. Not very adventurous, I know!

Zion and Lucas at the market.

Zion and Lucas at the market.

SCHOOL

Emmaus is in grade two now and he leaves for school at 7:00am (usually getting up 10 minutes before it’s time to leave) and comes home for lunch from 11:30-1:30 and then back to school until 4:30pm. It is a long day! Trying to get any homework in at the end of that day is nearly impossible. And he does get homework as well as exams every quarter! Emmaus is one of the few English-speaking kids in his class so he has been learning lots of Ilokano from his friends. Emmaus also has a Tagalog class and he needs to know Butbut to speak to his grandparents. Lucas is in Kindergarten and so has it a bit easier – for now!

Emmaus school ID which MUST be worn every day.

Emmaus school ID which MUST be worn every day.

FAMILY TIME

I know for a lot of families in my home country of Canada, family time is spent on ball fields, hockey rinks, soccer fields etc. For us, that isn’t really an option as there aren’t any organized sports teams for kids. I am sure some of you moms and dads think that sounds like heaven! 🙂 Our family pretty much spends all of our time together as work and regular life seem to happen simultaneously. If I need to go into the clinic, I will take some of the kids with me and they will play with some of the other kids who came with their moms. If Achao needs to go in search of supplies for a building project, he will pack the kids in the multicab and head out to look for it.

Ok I have to say it – Vacations in the Philippines are awesome. We only need to drive for 4-5 hours before we reach an amazing beach with white sands and clear blue water. Who wants to visit?

Pagudpud Paradise

Pagudpud Paradise

VISITORS

This has been the area of our lives that Achao and I have probably had the most “discussions” about. For the Kalinga culture it is seen as an honor to host guests so when we were first married we had a constant stream of visitors coming to “honor” us by letting us cook, clean and host them for days at a time. In the past few years it has slowed down; I probably offended someone by asking how long they were planning on staying or something. But now it is pretty much just close family members who show up unannounced, planning to stay indefinitely. This I don’t mind at all as it means that Achao’s dad comes often and stays with us. He is a genuine pleasure and we have told him that he can live with us forever.

The day that Apu Awoy caught a small bird and tied its foot for the boys to place with … Mom untied it pretty quickly.

The day that Apu Awoy caught a small bird and tied its foot for the boys to place with … Mom untied it pretty quickly.





What a Night!

6 07 2015

Last month I had an amazing opportunity to be a part of an unplanned home birth … well it wasn’t planned by me, but it might have been planned by the mom! 

First of all, let me tell you a little bit about the mother. I have known her since she was eight years old. She was one of the kids who used to follow Crystal and I around Pakak when we would visit there back in 2004. I also took her for check-ups when she was 10 and it was discovered that she had TB of the spine. She was successfully treated and recovered well.

Late last year I heard that this dear girl, lets call her Sunshine, had gotten married and was pregnant. Talk about making me feel old! She had been away for a few years working in someone’s house and so I hadn’t seen her recently. When I saw her at our outreach to her village I was surprised to see a beautiful grown up young lady in place of a little girl.

Sunshine came for a few prenatal visits and we were able to provide her with all her prenatal tests. Her pregnancy was very straight-forward and she and baby were doing just fine.

I reminded Sunshine every time I saw her to text us whenever her labor starts and we could come pick her up and take her to the clinic. I said that I would love to be her midwife and she said “Ok”. Ha! I just love the no nonsense Butbut culture. She knew that it was a bigger blessing for me to be her midwife than for her to have me as her midwife!

So one evening last month we got a text that Sunshine was in labor and that we should come and get her quickly. Alex, Claire and I jumped in the car and took off. We knew from prior experience that when the ladies from the village text us, we might only have minutes to get there before the baby is born.

We arrived to find her very close to delivery. She was in her one room, bamboo house with the wind blowing through, keeping it nice and cool. The house soon was surrounded with kids, teenagers and mothers of the community that all had arrived to cheer her on. Sunshine’s mother was also there giving her support in between nursing her own young child.

We set up the emergency birth bag that we always bring with us just in case we can’t get back to the clinic in time – like this time!

Soon Sunshine was pushing and a little while after, a perfect little boy was born. It seemed like the whole village was outside excited to meet the baby. Most of Sunshine’s younger brothers and sisters were in the house and all so excited to meet their nephew.

After the birth Sunshine’s husband asked around if anyone had something to eat for dinner (it was past dinnertime) and no one did. They found some dried beans in the house and put on a pot of rice. Within an hour after the birth we encouraged Sunshine to go and urinate in order to prevent her from bleeding too much. Well, with no bathroom in sight she went outside and found a private bush. While she was doing this her mother got a bucket of water and rinsed out the house. It was an easy task as the floors were made of bamboo and there were big spaces that went through to the ground below.

We checked mom and baby again and then headed back to the clinic.

We midwives all had the biggest smiles on our faces as we drove home.

I had the biggest smile of all as I was so happy that I could help my dear young friend Sunshine as she became a mother.

Everyone getting a look at the new baby.

Everyone getting a look at the new baby.





We Help Babies Breath

2 06 2015

At Abundant Grace of God we take our job very seriously.

Every day we are faced with the job of keeping moms and babies safe throughout one of the most vulnerable times of both of their lives.

This May we had a visiting midwife (Sora Colvin) come to Tabuk and re-certify all the midwives and nurses in neonatal resuscitation. Most babies don’t need to be resuscitated at birth, but for the few that do, staying calm and knowing what to do saves lives.

Marivic and Jona practice what they are learning.

Marivic and Jona practice what they are learning.

Alex and Edolbina practice a scenario.

Alex and Edolbina practice a scenario.

Claire and May-Anne

Claire and May-Anne

In fact, just a few weeks after our training, we had a baby deliver at our clinic who needed extensive resuscitation after delivery. The midwives stayed calm and gave the baby the support that he needed. The midwives got him breathing on his own and after a short stay at Almora General Hospital under the care of our referring paediatrician this little baby is doing great. If this mother had decided to deliver at home on her own, or without adequately trained midwives, his story would have been very different.

We were also updated on emergency breech delivery and shoulder dystocia management.

B-lyn, Melody and Marivic practice resolving shoulder dystocia.

B-lyn, Melody and Marivic practice resolving shoulder dystocia.

Thank you for supporting the work that we do here in making sure that every mother and every baby has the best care possible.





I delivered at Abundant Grace of God because…

4 04 2015

I wanted to share some stories from our patients about why they are choosing to deliver at our clinic.

Anna*

“I was so glad that I delivered here at Abundant Grace of God [Bugnay site] because I felt safe and taken care of well by the staff. Especially that I had a hemorrhage when I gave birth before at [another location], I didn’t feel safe there because when I hemorrhaged it took them so long before they stopped the bleeding.”

Some of the mothers from the village of Buscalan share about their experiences at AGGMC.

Some of the mothers from the village of Buscalan share about their experiences at AGGMC.

One of the mothers from Buscalan (neighbouring villages) that delivered at our Bugnay site.

One of the mothers from Buscalan (neighbouring village) that delivered at our Bugnay site.

Mary*

“I chose [to deliver] here in Abundant Grace of God because the clinic is well ventilated, has very clean rooms and bathrooms and the employees are very kind to their patients, they treat them all equally. Also it is Philhealth accredited.”

*Mary shares at our Labor and Delivery seminar about her experience during the delivery of her first baby at AGGMC.

(*not real names)

We are so glad that the women of Kalinga are choosing to deliver at our clinic and that we have the opportunity to share God’s love with them in a practical way.

Labor and delivery is the time in a woman’s life where she can be the most vulnerable. Too often in the developing world the workers at local health facilities and hospitals use this time as an opportunity to shame the women and make them feel guilty.

The following is a quote from a fellow missionary working at a Birthing Home in Manila. She had the chance to talk with a senior medical student in regards to attitudes surrounding labouring women in the Philippines.

“What I learned was that birth is often seen as an opportunity to shame and frighten the woman giving birth: not because the exhausted, overworked health provider is mean or malicious, but because it is the time when a woman is at her most dependent and vulnerable, that one can instill such hatred for the process that she will not want to bear any more children. It is a time to make the mother feel badly for poor compliance of prenatal check-ups or for being seen as an eyesore to a society desperately trying to pull out of the “developing world” category.”

In contrast, we at AGGMC want women to feel empowered, loved, cared for and protected  during their deliveries.

Our vision is to “Share the Love of God with the families of Kalinga” and we sincerely pray that every woman that enters our facility will feel that they are loved, not only by us but also by their Heavenly Father.





An Emergency Transport in the Mountains

5 03 2015
The amazing and beautiful staff at the Bugnay clinic.

The amazing and beautiful staff at the Bugnay clinic.

I just got back yesterday afternoon from a quick trip to the Bugnay clinic. I was taking one of our partners from Samaritan’s Purse to see the clinic there and also to drop off one of the Tabuk supervising midwives to spend a few weeks with the staff in Bugnay.

While there, the staff updated me on one of our very high risk patients. Mary* had been repeatedly admitted to the hospital for signs of pre-eclampisia throughout her pregnancy and repeatedly sent home “better”. She was now only seven months pregnant and was sent home again from the hospital two days before. My midwife Rema had done a home visit for her that day and her blood pressure was sky high again and she was so swollen that she had a hard time moving around. Rema and the other staff told Mary that she needed to go back to the hospital again. Mary decided she would just follow the doctor’s advice and return on Friday for her regular follow-up check-up. My midwives asked me if I could try to convince her to go back to the hospital. They knew that at any moment she could have a seizure or a stroke and then both she and the baby would be lost.

I agreed to visit her and try to convince her. So just before myself and Raija-Liisa (from SP Canada) left for Tabuk, we went to visit her in her home. I was praying silently as we approached her house that God would give me compassion and the right words to say. When I saw her lying in her bed, so swollen from her feet to her chest, and checked her blood pressure to see it was off the charts,  I was filled with compassion. We spent about an hour with Mary discussing her options and in the end we decided instead of taking her back to the closest hospital (who kept sending her home) we would take her back with us to Tabuk.

The midwives at the clinic started an IV line on Mary (which wasn’t an easy feat with all her edema) and we lay her down in the back of the car and drove to Tabuk. When we reached the hospital, the doctors and nurses immediately started caring for her. Her blood pressure was even higher than when we left Bugnay and she was starting to have severe headaches. The staff were unable to find the baby’s heartbeat. They were planning to get her prepped for an ultrasound when Raija and I left her in the hands of the very capable staff.

A few hours later I received a text from the doctor that she had performed a cesarean section and delivered a stillborn baby. Mary’s life had been saved but unfortunately not her baby’s as well.

It is heartbreaking to think of Mary’s loss, but I know that if she hadn’t had the C-section on that day that her life could have been lost as well. (The only cure for preeclampsia is delivery of baby and placenta. There is no other treatment. If left untreated, eclampsia will cause multi-organ failure, seizures and/or stroke and ultimately death for the pregnant woman).

Please pray for Mary and her family as they grieve their loss.

Please pray for the Bugnay staff as they continue to grow in strength, skill and wisdom in dealing with these very difficult cases in such a remote area.

(*not her real name)