Friday, December 14, 2007

Sawa (Okay)

En route to communion at St. Philip's early this morning, I stopped to comfort a woman in labor walking the opposite direction. She was bent over double in the middle of the long dirt road to the hospital grounds, a good 15 minutes from her destination. I had no idea how far she had already traveled, but it was another 10 minutes to the highway that she must have come from. Dorcas spoke Luhya and I, English; but we both understood labor pains.

I tried sign language to explain that I would accompany her back to the hospital. She nodded gratefully, but at that point her husband appeared, running to catch up with her. "Shall I walk with you?" I motioned, to ask him, too; he shook his head and indicated he would take care of his wife. I looked worriedly from one to the other and asked in Swahili, "Sawa?" "Sawa, sawa," they both responded. I hope it really is okay... I will visit the maternity ward later, hoping to see them and a healthy newborn.

This morning's service, the last of the semester, was lovely. Padre Richard, long the chaplain at the theological college, spoke about Isaiah's words. "The Israelites were asking in Lamentations, 'Have you forgotten us?' Then come the words of comfort, followed by the admonishment to 'Prepare the way for the Lord.'" Combining Advent's theme with that of graduation, Richard reminded us, "God made a people of priests out of nothing. He kept faith with them even when they did not keep faith with Him." Richard went on to say that we all have a responsibility to continue to work for liberty and justice, a theme especially appropriate in a country that just celebrated its hard-won independence. "God's message was not about pleasing people in power, but about liberating the people of the land," Richard closed, in an obvious reference to the upcoming elections. Simba, the Hardisons' oldest dog, joined us in the chapel to sing a rousing recessional, "Marching to Zion."

I caught a ride with Dr. Hardison back to the hospital for morning rounds. We arrived as an ambulance pulled in with a female patient suffering a gaping head wound -- the result of a serious altercation with her mother-in-law. The government's temporary five-panga limit is apparently not helping much. It only takes one machete to wreak havoc on a skull.

A young man presented at our outpatient department today with a seven-year history of abdominal pain and diarrhea. Dr. Hardison's sigmoidoscopy confirmed the obvious: ulcerative colitis. Had it been colon cancer, the patient would not still be alive, of course; but it is sad to know that he has been so inappropriately treated at so many other hospitals for so long. He was never even scoped until he got to Maseno. A short-term steroid regimen (also never before prescribed for him) will help to calm the inflammation, but there is no medication in all of Kenya that compares to the ones we have in the U.S. to treat the long-term condition.

Some things are just not sawa.


Kristin said...

Good evening to you in Kenya - I am so moved, both by the stories you tell, as well as by the responses of the people who are enjoying sharing your experience on-line. It's amazing, really... quite wonderful. A gift. Thank you! Love, Kristin

Anonymous said...

Hi Mom,

Just wanted to let you know that I am thinking of you today, as always, but especially today to say "happy birthing day" thirty-eight years ago. What a lucky (or maybe just plain smart!) soul I am to have you for a mother.

Thank you again and again for your wonderful words — for sharing the world you are visiting. If we could all bundle each other up and care for each other all over the globe the way you are now doing, what a world it would be. Well, we are on our way, I guess.

Woo Hoo!

Much Love,

Anonymous said...

Dear Dianne,
Thank you so much for your stories. Sometimes, it is hard to grasp the scenes given the lives we lead in this country, and on this island especially. However, they are always welcome reminders to the Christmas message and spirit in the forefront of our lives. God Bless you. Deb E.