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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Screening Day

The day started very early for many.  When the day shift security team headed out in the early hours of 5'ish in the morning, already people were gathering in line with a hope of an appointment for surgery.  Within the space of a couple of hours that number of around 600 had risen to 4000-5000 people as many made their way to line up.  One thing we have noticed, the Congolese know how to line up.  I remember on the first morning of our local day crew arriving on board and having to stand in line to get a cup of tea in the dining room, it was funny to see the confused faces of many of our crew members as this was not the norm.  But this must be the norm here as people lined up to wait their turn and it went very calmly.
Here's a time lapse of the crowd over the day:
Throughout the day 311 crew went back and forth to help with the day.  Some handling security and lines, others escorting patients from one station to another, some keeping the kids entertained, others registering the personal details of every potential candidate, water carriers, sandwich sharers, transportation.  Photographers took snaps of each condition, doctors & nurses evaluated patients giving the joyful "YES" or the disheartening "NO".  2 worlds go on side by side, those who carry hope in an appointment card and those who we unfortunately can't help, both take the same path out of the evaluation building.  People gathered at a prayer tent to pray with those who had been declined, others danced with those who we would see again.

Sharon headed out at 11:30-she was part of the patient escort team.  Her job was to escort people to the right surgical evaluations.  The nurses had made it so easy for us by colour coding the paperwork so all we needed to do was follow the right coloured arrow to Plastics, Max Fac's, Orthopedic, VVF, Goiters etc.  The hard part was walking up and down the stairs for each patient, but to be honest, not really hard when your body works fine unlike the many we helped.  It was fun to connect face to face with patients and even practice the poor school French which gave many laughs and broke down barriers and made connections.  Even the mothers who hid their disfigured baby from all, because of their embarrassment, got connected and more relaxed as Sharon asked about their baby. When they would show her, Sharon would tell them they were "trés belle" and some would look at her in disbelief, that somebody would find their child beautiful when the outside world would think they were cursed.  I must admit they were very adorable.  Another one that comes to mind was a young lad who's legs were bent up by his body, his family and friends carried him on a plastic patio chair to wherever he needed to go, even up the two flights of stairs.  I will always the remember the time when he came across our path as we all recited hello in our best french, "Bonjour" or one of the local languages "Mbote" only to be greeted by a boy speaking perfect english.  It surprised us all.  He was fun to be around and he got an appointment so we are all looking out for his visit as I think he's going to have fun on board!
"Sharon helping "Mama" and her little one up the stairs"
 "Upstairs for Max Fac & Plastics"
"Downstairs for the rest"
Around 18:30 the sun was going down but there were still many patients, unfortunately the building that we were all working in had no power so landrover lights shone in various places to see our way.  By 19:30 all those that were left were given an appointment card at the ship to continue their screening in the light.

It was a successful day.  The gate was open from 06:25-18:44.  The total number of people (potential patients and their caregivers) that came to the main gate was 7354.

6354 came through the gate and 4236 received an appointment card for surgery

Here is a video with photo's from the day that our communications team has put together:
Thank you for your prayers

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