Saying Goodbye to Buma

In October of last year, we wrote to you about Buma's Story. Buma Losa was a quiet and thoughtful man. He displayed meekness and humility and his eyes told the story of a difficult life. He conducted his work as a grounds keeper for GRI’s Odubu Clinic with pride and perfectionism. 

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Rose

This is Rose's first child. She is excited about her pregnancy, but also nervous. Who could blame her? How many first-time mothers have been nervous, even with access to good health care, let alone coming to realize you cannot return home and will have to raise your child in a camp? She never imagined this would be the case. 

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Anuarite's arm

Anuarite was in need of help. She was cooperative in following directions but refused to speak to the staff. She blankly stared ahead. Her mother accompanied her on the long walk to the clinic. She reported that Anuarite had stopped speaking completely when her husband left her and sold their land. Soon after, two of her six children had passed away and also her father. He was killed in the war. We believe two of her children are currently living with family in Goma and the other two with family in a heavy fighting area south of Lubero. The staff tried multiple times to interview her and her mother, but they did not share a lot.  There is always more to the story.

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Dr. Nowland: AKA, "Dental MacGyver"

"Are you up?"

"Why wouldn’t she be? It’s 11:25 in the morning! Oh wait, its 11:25 AM where I am standing in Lubero, DRC. That means it’s 2:25 am in Colorado. Oh well, my text will likely go unanswered for a few hours. 

“I am” comes back quickly. I wonder why, but assume it has something to do with one of our small children that generally precludes her from a restful nights sleep. 

I then further intrude on her early morning and select the button to call. The whole process amazes me. I am standing in the corner of a small poorly lit exam room in a hospital built by the Belgians in 1925 in a remote village in the Virunga Mountains of eastern Congo and I have no trouble reaching my wife, a dentist, who is lying in bed in the middle of the night in Colorado. In a place with no running water and only rare electricity - generally by solar or generator - I have excellent cell service. 

“Hey, I am seeing a 7 year old male with a broken and abscessed tooth. Do you think I should pull it?”

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Reaching the Corners

It was great to work alongside the staff at the Odubu and Imvepi clinics in Rhino Refugee Camp. They continue to work long hours providing care to a rapidly growing population of refugees entering northern Uganda from South Sudan and DR Congo. Patients continue to come early every morning to wait for treatment. I was proud that our pharmacies are well stocked and that patients are always greeted by someone who speaks their language (11 spoken in the area) and provides care to them in a culturally respectful way.

Becky Watson and I are both nurses. We met with the selected village health leaders in the area of our Odubu clinic. 27 of them represent all the tribes in the area including Dinka, Nuer, Kakwa, Acholi, Moru and Baka from South Sudan along with Lugbara from northern Uganda. Currently there is no DR Congo representation. 

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The long road ahead

There is a road in Congo. A road that connects several cities, towns and villages as it runs north and south through the DRC province of North Kivu. Our team travels this road from Butembo south to Lubero each morning and then return to Butembo at the end of each day. We work in Lubero, but stay here in Butembo at night.

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