Friday, September 11, 2015


Friday, September 11, 2015

Today was our last day of clinicals. We awoke for 7 am breakfast and coffee and packed up the vans to make the 1 hour journey to today's site. First of all, we saw 503 people today! I don't know how we did it, but then again, WE didn't. The team has been dealing with some sickness and we are all very weary.  The dusty, bumpy, off road travel out to the country side sites with the sun beating down on your bald head really takes its toll! (Yeah this isn't Erika or Leigh) We saw 1803 people at 5 different sites this week and wrote about 5000 prescriptions - what an honor! But, this evening most of us took a tour of downtown Antsirabe by Pousse-Pousse (think rick-shaw).  It was a twenty minute ride that was actually very relaxing - the beggars did get overwhelming on the main streets at times but seemed to avoid the side ones. Being able to sit back and enjoy a slow paced ride while taking in the sights and sounds of this strange place on the other side of the world was definitely a memorable experience. It cost 3000 Aryary plus a tip which means.......$2.

We all packed up tonight after dinner and are excited to head to Andisabe tomorrow to see Lemurs and other native Madagascar sights! The journey is about 4 hours. Pray for good health for our sick team members!

We have Lutheran hymnal supplements here and as I was paging through it tonight I came upon one of the greats - 'Church of God, Elect and Glorious'. To quote some lines from it, 'Be the people He intends; strong in faith and swift to answer each command your master sends...Give your lives in joyful service - Sing His praise, His love declare."

Talk to you soon!

Four days down, one to go!


Well, we're here for more days than just one, but as far as clinics go tomorrow is our last day. We have seen about 1200 patients and every day is just as humbling and amazing as the last. Yesterday we arrived to hundreds of people waiting for us, this is a panoramic of the crowd. 

We were standing in the middle of everyone as the pastor introduced us and seemingly out of no where everyone started singing a hymn in unison. It was incredibly powerful. Even though we did not understand what they were singing, it was evident in the tone of their voices how grateful they were and how much love they had for us even though we hadn't done a thing yet. Many members of the group were brought to tears by this overwhelming experience. 

The average daily wage in Madagascar is $1.25.  Most surgery here costs about $250. This sounds like such a modest price to any of us, but for the average Malagasy person this would mean saving their wages from 200 days of work, or 28.5 weeks of work assuming he or she works 7 days per week. We met two different children who were born with a cleft lip and their families were not able to pay for reconstructive surgery.  In any culture, having a deformity affects an individual's entire life. We were so grateful that we met these two children because that meant we were provided with the opportunity to pay for surgery for each of them. I can't even begin to imagine the impact we have already had on these lives. 

(Hanging out with some of the children in the village of Antsiriribe)

Tomorrow, as I said, is our last day of clinics. I can't wait to see what tomorrow will bring. Thank you all for supporting, praying for, and following us. We would not be here without all of you. 

Leigh, Erika, and Ryan

Monday, September 7, 2015

Day one of clinic

Salama-Tuk!! (Hello) Anaraku Erika (this is Erika). Vita (the end). That's all the Malagasy I got for now. Whoever said there was French influence in Madagascar...well I'm glad I didn't practice French!  Thank you all for the donations and prayers. We all made it here barely... Carrying a carry-on and three 50 lbs bags will do it to ya!  Also waiting in an hour line for customs with bats flying over your head and big identified bugs flying into your hair was quite the welcome treat. 

But Madagascar is beautiful. I'm not the best at setting the scene but I will try my best. It's currently dry season so there is a lot of dust. Dr. Harrison, who both the Malagasy and the Americans agree drives like a mad man, is like pig pen from Charlie Brown with all the dust he kicks up speeding down the roads. The main crop of Madagascar is rice so there are rice fields everywhere. From what we have drove through so far there are mountains all around us with terraces built into them where families split up the land and grow different crops. Then at the bottom is usually a swampy looking irrigation system that has the rice growing in it.  Farmers and little kids are in the rice fields moving water with buckets or rowing and harvesting the rice.  I can't get my pics to post so you'll have to deal with my poor explaining. 

Today was our first day of clinic. We were estimated to see 150 patients and ended up seeing double so I'd say it was quite successful!! Leigh and Ryan were in intake taking vital signs and directing people. I did a class on hand hygiene and dental hygiene with the kids outside. All of us at some point ended up wheeling and dealing in the pharmacy as that was the hot spot. It was the first time a team has done health teaching at a clinic so I was a little bit nervous on how things would flow. Every clinic I've participated in tends to be organized choas with a line of 100 people forming in about 10 minutes. Yet it always seems to work out. Anyway I was very impressed by how well the kids listened. With choas comes many distractions and They were able to answer all of my questions at the end of the class!! Special thanks to dominoa my translator!! Anyway the pastor of the church thanked us for our service at the end and did ask for us to pray for the means to finish their roof before the rainy season comes. To finish the roof it will cost about $250 so we have all put together the money and will be buying the roof for them to finish the construction. So please keep them in your prayers! The rainy season starts in the beginning of October so there is not much time. Tomorrow we are expected to see about 600 people so I'm gonna go get some shut eye!

Valooma (goodbye/wish you well) and God bless!!  Thanks for the prayers!!


Day 1 and Day 2

Sunday, September 6, 2015 430PM (930AM Boston)
We made it! Somehow we managed to get 13 bags all the way to Madagascar! Only one got lost in Paris but will be here tomorrow (Monday).

After waiting in line until our arms fell off (2 hours) at the Antananarivo airport at midnite we received our luggage and visas. Our hosts were there to meet us (Thank God!) and we piled in the two vans headed for the Hotel Ivato. There were numerous beggars following us around asking for money while trying to carry our bags for us to the vans. We couldn't get out of the parking lot at first because the gate wouldn't go up. Finally someone came over and lifted it up by hand so that we could pull through. We arrived at the Hotel Ivato a few minutes later only to find (you guessed it) a locked gate that wouldn't open. The buttons didn't work and the hotel wasn't answering their phone. Our driver (who we later discovered loves the horn) tried honking, backing up and pulling forward, even revving the engine (not sure why), until finally the sleepy-eyed staff came out and opened it up. The alternative was most likely to drive 2 hours to Antsirabe in the middle of the night! Whew!  After about 4 hours of sleep we were up and ready to head to the Lutheran convention in Antsirabe for a worship service.

The convention was a 2 hour drive and we ran late, but we were still able to catch the last half hour. It was held outdoors and was attended by about 30,000 Lutheran Christians over the week. But, let's talk about the two hour drive first...

They drive on the right side of the road but there are no lane markings, no speed limits, no rules about passing, and random police check points. Our driver passed other vehicles on blind corners like it was going out of style, just about burnt out the horn, and got us into a few near miss situations. We were stopped at police checkpoints 3 times but quickly let go each time. Just another day here.... However, what a beautiful country! The poverty is apparent. On our drive we saw endless terraces for growing rice and potatoes. We learned that Antananarivo is known for its brick making and we saw 'ovens' all along the way where they bake the bricks.

After the convention, we were driven about 5 minutes to the hospital guest house where we will be staying. We then had a home cooked meal including chicken, french fries, rice, bread, pasta, and... COFFEE! Our bags are unloaded and we got settled in. Then the fun began...

We won the award for 'most supplies brought by any team' which is great but it also meant that we won the award for 'most supplies organized by any team'. We spent a couple hours doing all this and it was absolute chaos. There is literally, thousands of pounds of antibiotics, hydrocortisone, anti hypertensives, etc etc the list goes on and on. We have enough toothpaste and tooth brushes to take down a destroyer thanks to you will be put to good work starting tomorrow (Monday).

We only get wifi next to where we are staying at the hospital guest house so bear with us! More to follow...