Sunday, March 2, 2014

Africa Sweet Africa :)

Africa sweet Africa…

Okeydokey… three days after sitting my USA physio board exam I found myself in a completely different world. A familiar world that I absolutely love. I was back home in Guinea. 

I am not going to lie, for the first time in all my travels I was a little nervous about what was ahead of me. I had no Mercy Ships land rovers to pick me up, nor any of the comforts of the ship. I was in a country where I didn’t speak the language and for the next four months I was to be all by myself heading up a Ponseti training program. I was all by myself in Guinea. Or so I thought…

Those feelings of “oh my gosh, what have I gotten my self into?” lasted about five minutes and vanished when pretty much all of the guys I trained last year welcomed me with open arms at the airport.

It is kind of hard to explain what that meant to me. It was so special to have all the guys you invested 10 months into welcome me back with open arms. They call me “Nick the Guinean”. And even before I left the country, they said “Nick the Guinean would come back”. I guess they knew more than me at the time. But here I am.

So what am I actually doing here in Guinea?

1. I am following up with those we trained in the Ponseti Method last time we were here in Conakry 

2. I am training Hope Medical Centre (a 26 hour bumpy bumpy bumpy ride from Conakry) how to treat clubfeet with the Ponseti Method.

Ok so my first point of business was to reevaluate the guys we trained last time. Now this might sound easy but practically there are some serious challenges in doing this in Africa. But God totally opened up some serious awesome doors to make this ridiculously easy.

Thanks to some friends of friends (the Andersons), I had a personal driver (Mr. Bah) who drove me around everywhere for the week and a half I was in Conakry.  I mean who gets there own personal driver?

My accommodation was awesome. I stayed with the Dube’s and it was great. Great food, running water and a toilet that flushed and a water bed that made me feel like I was back on the ship J

And probably the biggest blessing was being able to use my old translator Faya. He made my life so much easier cause he already knew the guys we trained.

The trainees are doing a good job treating clubfeet, which makes all the hard work worth it.

It’s hard to explain how much I love working with little kids with clubfeet and teaching local health workers how to correct them. It is best kind of food for my soul. I feel so alive and excited when I see one of my students doing a great job.

They are so much more than students; they really have become my good friends. 

The other thing that was a really special was that I was able to follow up with how all our little clubfoot patients have been going. Oh man, it was such a joy seeing them all again with their feet nice and straight.

Here are just a couple of before and after shots.

The other thing that was a real joy was that I got to see how some of our other patients were going.

Yaya is going to school and is doing great.

Aboubacar is also doing much better and continues to improve. I missed his contagious smile.

So what’s next?
Three months in N’zao teaching Hope Medical Clinic how to treat clubfeet.
I love this journey God has me on (and I look forward to being able to do this sort of work with my soon to be wife Suzanne, who I am missing a lot).

God is good.