Published: May 17th 2012May 17th 2012
Wednesday, I went with a group to Palime to visit the Missionary Sisters of Charity. They care for children and adults with HIV, TB, other illnesses and palliative care.
There were four sisters and some lay workers. The sisters spoke English. One said she was from Bangladesh. The others were also dark skinned, but I don’t know where they were from. They will stay in Palime for about four years, but can also be reassigned at any time. They were gracious and fun loving. This is the order of sisters started by Mother Theresa. They wear the traditional habit of the Sisters of Charity.
There were about 25 men and women patients when we visited. There were many more during the last visit, but many were well enough to go home before this visit. A doctor comes regularly to care for the patients. The sisters, probably nurses, do most of the care and learn how to do new treatments from the doctor.
The rooms were spacious, and well lit with tiled floors and white tiles half way up the walls. There was a gathering room which served as a dining room also. Against the walls there were couches and chairs. I saw a sewing machine against one wall. There were three ceiling fans. A few pictures were on the wall, Christ, Mother Theresa, and Mary. The grounds are welcoming. There are trees, and flowering bushes. There was a small grotto with a statue of Mary. Two men were working outside repairing a walkway that connected with another building. There seemed to be at least four buildings. The bathroom I used had a water flushing toilet and running water.
We did two crafts using beads, etc. with the patients, one before lunch and one after. Of course, as always, there was singing and dancing.
We ate the lunches we brought under a shade tree. Over the wall, I could see green hills and Vermont sized mountains. The sisters also brought us cold bottled water and soda. What a treat! I had already finished off the quart I brought. As with most of the places I have visited, photos were not allowed, and women must wear skirts that fall below the knees when sitting.
The home had about four wheelchairs already. Mercy Ships donated two more which we brought to them. We also brought lots of cotton balls and two baby blankets.
It took about two and a half hours to get there. We left about seven in the morning and returned for dinner. Sometimes I think everything revolves around meal times. With all of the Mercy Ministry trips I have taken, I have not missed a meal yet.
Once we were out of Lome, I saw corn fields about knee high. There were some trees, none were very big, but it was the first large area of green, I have seen since arriving.
On the way back, our interpreter had us stop at a highway stand. She and some others bought peanuts. They were packaged in empty vodka bottles. The dried coconut is also packaged that way. The avocadoes are just coming into season. Those are popular here too. We also drove through a market. The smell of dried fish was everywhere.
While looking at the venders, I saw that the carpenters made coffins to represent different occupations. There was one in the shape of a banana and one in the shape of a helicopter.
This morning I worked as an escort at the YAG clinic. It was basically the same as what I reported about the sight clinic last week. I learned that YAG is the name of the laser used to remove scar tissue that is present after cataract surgery. Next week will be the last post-op clinic. The one difference with today’s clinic is that the 60 Minutes crew was there. Something about Mercy Ships will air next fall. Hopefully that will result in more volunteers and donations.
We are already preparing for the sail. The advanced team has been gone for a while. Fuel spill drills happened this week followed by two days of loading fuel. It went smoothly. The ship shop is having a discount on some items. Unfortunately, it is mostly for candy. There is a large supply of candy. You can now buy a large box of Reece’s, two for the price of one, at the cost of only five dollars. The small sized T-shirts are also two for one. The girl in the line ahead of me gave me her second shirt. Larger numbers of people are leaving or getting ready to leave. Many of the clinics are not going to be taking new patients for much longer. They will be doing mostly rehab, post-op care, and follow-ups near the end of this service. There is much preparation going on in the next country. Finding a place for the Hope Center is a challenge, because it is better if it is close to the ship. The sail will take about 10 days.
There was a little excitement last Saturday. A US military vessel docked behind us! Those of us still on board took pictures as it slowly came to dock. There was also a plane that flew by several times. It only stayed overnight.