A Joyful Journey- CP Africa Trip
Part Six: ‘Rounds, Ups & Downs’
with the Doctors and Chaplains

Our first day in Soddo was a day I will never forget. At six am, we woke up to go ‘on rounds’ with the doctors. Thinking in terms of any Greys or ER, I thought I could handle it, but with real-life African conditions in the mix, my heart and stomach were in for a challenge.

 We started our morning in the ICU. Huddled around each bed, we learned about the severity of their injuries, status of surgeries, and the stories of the patients who came in overnight. One man waiting for surgery was known as “double-double.” He had two broken femurs and two broken shins. As they dressed his wounds, we starred intently at the bone peaking through the broken skin, and learned that he received these injuries in an automobile accident. Still waiting to align the final femur, there was a weight hanging over the foot of the bed to keep the muscle stretched. Careful not to shake the bed, we learned he would still not be able to have surgery because the hospital had no o+ blood.

Struggling to deal with the stench and crowded conditions, we moved from ward to ward, visiting patients. They would scream/whimper as the nurses carefully cleaned their wounds with diluted bleach water. Their families lined the halls and hung in the windows waiting for good news. About the fourth room, we met a man who had a gun shot wound to the butt. We learned that the bullet cracked his tailbone and pelvic bone. Imagining intense pain, starring at the open wound, and listening to him scream was sensory overload. I slowly grabbed Evelyn’s hand and the next thing I know, I’m on a bench, previously stacked with Ethiopian family members, looking into a bright light and a circle of 8 doctors faces… thinking, ‘Dang it! I PASSED OUT!’ American dancer DOWN! Embarrassed, I quickly tried to get back up and pretend everything was fine.

That day I learned some things; 1) It’s not like the movies 2) I cannot be a doctor and 3) WE have to do something to improve the conditions of Soddo Christian Hospital! The patients would spend days in ripped sheets with no entertainment waiting for treatment. This delay was often dependent on their family to buy the needed supplies, give blood, or have the funds to allow their surgery to take place. However, a daily highlight was having the chaplains visit each patient to hear their stories, status, prayer concerns and praises. Even in trauma, Ethiopians are very ‘relational.’

We were honored to meet and follow two of the chaplains Sara Samuel and Ayelech Chutulo. These women radiated Gods love in every room. We joined them in praying over the new mothers and children throughout the maternity ward. The proud moms grinned from ear to ear as we met their new babies. We got the opportunity to help name a child! Spending the afternoon submersed in the routine of the chaplains was so refreshing and reminded us how God provides even in the hardest physical trails. Still, some new blankets and basic medical supplies would be a tremendous blessing to help care for these beautiful people.


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Ellen Dutton

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