With a heavy heart and tears in our eyes we say our final good byes to the good people of Zinvie. The week has gone so quickly and I have once again made so many memories. We finished our final three surgeries then we made one final set off rounds to see the patients that were still in the hospital. As many had already left for their homes. Then some sad farewells to all the workers who supported us all week.
We then topped off our last day with a visit to the school that we had visited last year. Much progress has been made in a year. The school is beautiful and filled with many very excited and happy children thanks to many generous sponsors. We were brought into a classroom and the children recited prayers and sang for us and then we had lots of pictures with them. The children here love to have their photo taken then given the chance to look at themselves. It is a big deal for them as they rarely see themselves. Mirrors are not a common household item. For some it is their first time seeing themselves. It is fun to see their reactions.
The ride to and from the school was an adventure in itself. Our new friend Max from Italy was our driver. He had never seen an automatic before. The trip was filled with much laughter. I will miss him and his friend Alisa they made our days.
This was my second mission to Zinvie ,the first mission was filled with awe and appreciation for the simple things. This one also has touched me deeply. The familiarity of the place made it feel like home. I am sad to leave but grateful for the chance once again to make big differences in small ways to some of Gods children.
As we travel home and put our final thoughts on the blog we are starting our plans for next year. For those of you that helped this year with your time and generosity. “THANK YOU” And God bless you for caring.Pictures will be added in the next few days stayed tuned to see the difference that you contributed to.
Big thanks to the team. For all your efforts in preparing for the trip. Your time and talent and great enthusiasm on site. Great friendships, great food and great memories.
As we are heading home I try to think how to put into words the many ways that this mission has impacted me and I realize that it can’t be done. But I will say this. Everyone. who has contributed and supported this trip on my behalf such as all of the people who participated in the yoga fund raiser, purchased tickets on the I pad, made scrub hats and donated toys, picked up mosquito nets etc.,please know that you have supported an incredible cause that will have lasting results. I have been able to see first hand the work that is being done by so many people who are committed to this cause, especially Judy, Louis, Pam and Terry. Those four people in particular in my opinion are going above and beyond and I will be forever grateful to them for allowing me to be a small part of this. They have worked tirelessly on this mission for several years now and they are not done yet! While we were working to make our time with the people of Zinvie productive they were already organizing for the next visit so that they aren’t just making a difference during this mission but leaving the people with tools and education that will help them to continue to move towards better living conditions after we are gone.
Looking forward to getting home and feeling especially blessed to have had this experience. Nellie
I just said to Pam and Nellie how do I put in words what I have seen and done this week and Pam told me just speak from my heart, so for those of you that know me the best I am doing so with a heavy heart and tears in my eyes not for the little that I was able to contribute but for what I have seen and felt during this past week. I am sure that it has been said many times in this blog of the self less work that is given by those that come here on their own accord to share their God given talents to better the lives of those that are less fortunate and I thought that I had meet them all before this trip. It was not until I landed at the missions home that first night that I was to meet two extraordinary young nurses
from Italy Max and Alisa that were true missionary’s and had come to a land un known to them to work for just room and board to better the lives of these people. God bless you both.
I felt very humble to watch such a skillful team do what they do best and you all know how you contribute so I see no need to mention your names. I am just so happy that I was a part of it all and God willing on some level will be again. This foundation although very small in size has a very huge impact on so many and I have seen this week how all the preparation that went into coming here was not wasted. So for all of you out there that have given in any way small or large, money or time please continue to do so because your contributions are not wasted they are put to good use. Bravo Zulo to Louis and his family for doing such great work.
That is enough talk I look forward to getting home and very blessed to be sitting here next to a lady that I have so much in common with. Pam may we continue to do Gods work together I Love You.
One finial note to my newest friend that has touch my heart the most this week. Samuel we will doer again in the future, take care.
Hey Isaac and Luke
We had our final day yesterday. We went around and said our goodbyes. At one point a little boy probably no more than 12 months old started to follow me as I left. I picked him up and said goodbye, tossed him in the air a little, and put him back down and waved goodbye again. No way was he letting me go that easy, he ran after me again crying, so it was another round of up and downs in the air. Pretty neat how all kids, no matter where they are from like the same thing.
Guys the funniest thing that happened today was when we began our drive to the school. Max who drove all the ways to Benin from Italy in his Land Rover, was going to drive us over to the school in the Father’s Volkswagen car. He got in and sat down, and the first words out of his mouth were “what is ‘dis’, where do you change gears, ‘dere’ is no clutch, how you drive ‘dis’.” Well we laughed and laughed, at first we thought he was joking, but no he never heard of an automatic before, “we don’t have dis in my country”. A few quick lessons on the meaning of park, drive, reverse, and to use only his right foot, we got him going through the back country of Zinvie.
We arrived at the school in one piece but with sore bellies from laughing at Max and his new found driving skills. We were able to visit a class of young kids of about age 6. They sang for us, recited their prayers, then they had one girl do a dance with her new dress that we had brought from the students back home. The high school students from home had made 67 of them to bring with us, and the dresses were very much appreciated by the people at the school.
In closing guys, it was an amazing trip. I have made some wonderful new friends, I have been able to experience something that I would only normally read about in magazines. I hope I was able to make a little difference with the people I treated and met. Thank you Louie for asking me to join you and your team to go to Zinvie, Benin. What your family foundation is providing is making a difference. Isaac and Luke if the opportunity comes your way to do something like this when you get older, I’m going with you. Thanks everyone.
Oh yes I didn’t get eaten by ants or lions.
Ok let me try this again… Tried writing earlier but couldn’t bring myself to see the screen as tears kept flowing..I am finding it very difficult to write about our last day as i am overwhelmed and so heart broken.. I don’t know why I find this time harder to leave, maybe because each time we go to Zinvie we get closer to the people and they are like our little family,,maybe because being there is so easy and we put aside our personal crap to deal with what is most important helping people in need.. All of it and then some..
Friday morning started off with surgeries and rounds.. All our patients were doing very well and were either going home or being discharge from the hospital on Monday. We did some more stocking of the OR’s to make sure they have lots of supplies and I am so glad that Elisa and Max are there to continue the work.. They are two amazing young people doing an amazing thing, Donating 6 months of there time to help.. I am so proud to have met them and hope to continue our long distance friendship. We finished around 1:00 pm or so got our packing done and went to say our good byes to everyone..it is very difficult for me to say good bye i can’t explain it very well all i can say is that my heart aches.
We then went to the school to drop off some books and clothes. That drive is always interesting,, I think Derrick described it very well.. It was so impressive to see the kids in class, we popped in one class room and surprised some children they stood up and said our father prayer in French with us then they sang us a song What an experience..we then sat down at there desk with them and made funny drawings in there books they were all laughing and having fun,, so were we.. We stayed long enough for the school day to let out..OMG! We must of had at least 20 children each clinging to us.. It was so funny to see them with the camera, loving all the attention we gave them.. What beautiful children they all are..
I did find my little walking buddy early in the day and was able to give him a couple toys and books,, the smile on this boys face is mesmerizing. (Picture to follow) As we drive off the hospital grounds I see him in the corner of my eye sitting on a ledge watching us drive off with a big tear rolling on his cheek..My heart broke again.. I hope to find him next year when we go back..I hate leaving I must have cried all the way to the airport and again on the plane.. There is something special about this place, there is no greater feeling then helping ones in need.. We had a great team and everyone had different duties and everyone I am sure had a different experience.. But I can pretty much guaranty that we all loved it..I know Louis and I always do and I think this is something we will be doing for a very long time..I’ve already started a list of things we need for our next mission,,
Thank you Louis for introducing me to this wonderful project I love you xox Judy
Our last few days.. Wow they are difficult. We all came to help and that is what we did. As you all know the mission for me is not only doing surgery, it is helping people that need our help in so many different ways. For that I feel we had a great mission. We had some great laughs, some stressful moments, some frustrations of wanting to accomplish more when we are there, but that is part of a mission….I have to say, i was worried ( not really) about max driving as Derrick describes it, not only about the new type of driving, that is the automatic car, but the fact that there were some pot holes filled with water that could swallow the entire car.. Because we were too many, we took the hospital ambulance as well as an extra vehicle……the sisters at the school were excited to see us. each child, due to Montreal donations, gets to eat 2 meals a day there, and the nuns have done an incredible job of teaching these kids and building a great school, and of course we did get attacked by all the kids, wanting pictures and really wanted to hold on to us. No different than another part of the world, kids are kids and kids like to act like kids… Adults too, like to act like kids and we did..the smile on their face from the computer gifts, the projector, and us taking pictures of them and acting silly was all they could handle…, and their favorite saying… Everything goes well if you have ” faith, love and care for one another other”.. A very strong lesson.
As we return to the hospital we did our final round and pictures…with a heavy heart, this is always difficult. ….said our fair well to all that we have seen, helped and cared for..last few words of advise for our mothers with the cleft lip babies that have a long road ahead, some of our babies we did biopsies on that we know may not make it to the next mission for treatment, some with malaria and iliostomies that may also not be there for their reconstruction, many asking what it is like in Canada, is it better..wanting to come with us. What do we say, yes but with some reservation, since we all have different aspect of our lives we would like changed., but no comparison to what they have….without knowledge, we live in ignorance and sometimes that may be a blessing..
Just getting ready to leave was difficult, this for many of us has become a second little family, the workers, the priest..the village, the children…all enjoy learning and spending time with us and we with them..and really have kept their promise, to keep making it better…leaving for all of us is hard, but for Judy even harder. She gets so attached to all these great people, that teach us so many lessons. As Judy said one day, they (patients, family..) are all in one room, one the floor, bad smell, babies crying, no one sleeping, very hot, but all helping each other…so different than in our world, where people want private rooms, would be puzzling the nurse for a room transfer due to the noise, smell, heat…there no bell…no request….all together…
With all the kids saying good bye.. and with all the staff waving, it was heart breaking and many heavy tears for all but more for Judy that had her heart broken by a little boy, so intelligent with so much potential, same age as Renee (9-10) but stuck in a system that he realized he could not advanced. He sat near the gate as we were leaving, with a tear rolling down his face….this made it extremely difficult for all of us since we all say him and we too were all affected by him…
So for all of us, I hope, a great mission. With the help of all, in these best way we know how to give, gave what they could…it was not all the same and we all don’t see the same thing but it is the way we all complemented each other to get the work that had to be done ..done well. All of you, Judy, Pam, Nelly, Derrick, Nicole, Terry, Alex, Anne, Juliet (max and Elisa our two Italian friends that blended nicely and are amazing), with all the language difficulties, all the heat affecting us…thank you. You have all made a difference and we have all felt it. Our return home is always difficult. Small changes in Africa makes a big difference,……. in Canada, it is often pushed aside, ignored or swallowed in our fast world of competition and power hunger.
We have done more than 30 procedures and have fixed many areas of the hospital. The cost for these surgeries was app 4,000,000 African franks or app $8,000 Canadian dollars. The Foundation will be paying 75% of that to the hospital.
Next mission is coming fast, I have already been working on it, meetings with the fathers outside the hospital bible in hand, we looked at what god wanted next for them. as they say ” a la grace de dieu” ( at god’s will)… Another great lesson… may be we try to do too much by ourself….there is a new OR to help build, a New ER and recovery room to be designed. This will require money for them, help from us with the containers to sort out what should be sent to Africa and what we can send to Brazil since it is too sophisticated for Africa. We will need to send or have with us a respiratory technician that will help set up the anesthesia machines, money for instruments for pediatric surgery, and of course amazing people that have an open mind, open heart and willing to do what ever is required to be done…can’t wait to return…..god bless all and thank you.