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Thursday, July 31, 2008

No More Shame!

They were being chased. They had to stay alive. They had to survive. Scared, but determined, Esther Dweh and her family ran from the rebels, hoping to outsmart them. They hid in the bush knowing their lives were in danger, especially the life of her unborn child. Being a mother of a 5-year-old boy and 2-year-old girl at a time like this was hard enough, but in a situation like this, expecting a third baby in a matter of days was horrifying.“At the time of delivery,” Esther says, “I began to experience difficulty. The baby was too high and could not come down. It was in the heat of the war and there was no access to a hospital. The child died in my womb.” They were in the middle of nowhere. How would she survive?
In an attempt to help her, Esther’s husband took her to a man who had training in first aid. “This man cut the dead child from me, limb by limb, piece by piece, using a pair of rusty, unsterilized scissors.” In order to make sure that everything had been removed, the first aider pushed the scissors inside her and snipped, cutting open her bladder. Esther experienced excruciating pain and a few days later began to feel sick, at which time the first aider admitted to her husband that he had “made a mistake.” “I became so sick and so weak; I thought I was going to die.” Esther remembers sadly. “A pile of banana leaves was my bed.” “Because of the constant flow of urine I began to smell bad and flies would be all over me. My husband would wash my skin to try and keep me clean.”
One Day, Esthers husband left their hiding place in search of food, not knowing it would be the last time he would see his family. There was an ambush and, sadly, the rebels killed him. Grieving for her husband, Esther wondered what was to become of her and her children. “I just had to trust God to help me. I remained hidden in the bush and did my best to look after my children but soon after that, my son also died.” Esther knew she had to find help but did not know where to go. She finally met a group of people fleeing the war and joined them. In doing so she found her family. Even though her parents welcomed her back she felt embarrassed about her condition and the constant stench of urine. Surgery was her only option but it was out of the question. She had no finances to pay the doctors. Esther first heard about a hospital ship which would be coming to Liberia in 1999, but it was five years later before she was able to attend the medical screening that was taking place at JFK Hospital in Monrovia.
Her hopes were high, but disappointment struck once more when she came to register. Unscrupulous local hospital workers were charging for the registration card and Esther did not even have a cent. Dejected, she felt that her opportunity to receive healing had slipped beyond her reach. Yet God had not forgotten her. Alfred, a crew member from Mercy Ships, happened to walk by, noticed Esther and she told him of her plight. Meeting Alfred set in motion a sequence of events that ultimately brought about the miracle that Esther had longed for, for so long. Esther underwent surgery for Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) completely free of charge aboard the Mercy Ship. Her bladder was repaired and within four days of surgery, she was completely dry. After ten long years of incontinence and shame, Esther's healing had finally come.“I was so happy!” she exclaimed. “Now I have my life back, thanks to Mercy Ships. I thank God for the doctors and nurses who helped me.” In her pursuit for healing, Esther met a man who, despite her condition, fell in love with her. Esther's joy became complete when she gave birth to a beautiful son. She calls him “Robert, my Mercy Ships baby.”
The road to healing had been one that often seemed to lead only to despair. Yet, Esther kept trying, and now joy has come. During this field service, Esther has returned to Mercy Ships, not as a patient but as a counsellor and encourager to other VVF patients who are searching for the same healing and joy Esther has found.

1 comment:

Liz and Jim said...

Awesome story. Amazing to hear what some people endure. To God be the glory for her joy in life.
Liz (in Mongolia)