Thursday, June 23, 2005

What were we thinking?

Dear family and friends,

We have felt your presence and prayers. Thank you. Our first 10 days have not been easy and we have often referred to the prayer which sister Nada laminated for us: “Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us.”

We already have many stories to tell, but I’ll start with the worst part. Wayne and I have both been sick – but have survived. Apparently amoeba are stronger than we are. I was the first ”to go” (with diarrhea) and spent 2 days in the PC/US Embassy Infirmary in Lome. The group was traveling the day I got sick to our training site 2 hours away, so I stayed behind alone. When I joined the group 2 days later, Wayne was also ill. The first night at diner he fainted as he got up from the table. Our host “mom”, Philo, is a nurse, & after some calls were made to the PC medical staff, we were off to the hospital where we spent the next 2 days. As it turns out he had a bad case of amoebas (causing extreme diarrhea) which caused dehydration, and for an added touch they also detected a small amount of malaria. (This is probably a false positive test – but is makes the story better J, However nobody here takes malaria lightly so they over detect when looking at the slide and give you some pills to cure the malaria. We are also taking a malaria prophylaxis, but it is only 95% effective.) He was on an IV for 36 hours and is doing well now, although still gaining energy. He left the hospital on Monday and started class on Tuesday. He has now fully recovered.

The hospital is run by Baptist missionaries and we had American doctors. He had a private room and I was given a mat to sleep on the floor in the same room. The equipment was quite primitive, but he received good care & attention. We were both glad to come “home”. The staff lives in a compound on the grounds which has a guest house where meals can be purchased. I went for meals there and took food back to Wayne since the hospital itself doesn’t serve food. The Togolese nurses, mostly all young men, were very nice & capable. The equipment (like the IV metal! stand) was totally rusted and the glass bottles looked well used, but we were not worried about sanitation as this hospital is known as the best in Togo. We both gave stool samples at some point. The container they gave Wayne was an old prescription pill container and mine was a Kodak film container. Seems like everything is recycled in this place.

Our host “Mom” is a lovely woman who is a nurse/midwife. Yesterday she delivered twins girls at the hospital, but in our compound/home she also has her own clinic and today there is a woman in labor. She has invited me to “help” sometime. We learned how highly respected Philo is at the hospital. The American doctors hold her in high regard as she has delivered over 2500 babies in the area in the last 20 years. She is from Ghana and speaks English, so although our French will not get as much practice, we are learning a lot. We lucked out on our home. We are only on! e of a few (maybe the only ones) to have running water. Most are getting their water from a well with a bucket. It looks very Biblical. We also have a flush toilet (no paper allowed) but most others have bucket latrines. If I were one of the young volunteers, I might be shouting “age discrimination.”

We are enjoying the group of other volunteers with whom we are training. One has already gone back home to Vermont. We are kept very busy in classes, learning French (W and I are in a class of 3), Small Business Development and “How to Stay Healthy in Togo”. We’ve had too many immunizations to report.

We have, we THINK, already survived the “What were we thinking?” stage of being here. They told us we would experience it, and we admit being here has seemed overwhelming at times, especially with health issues. It is not going to be easy, but there already have been great moments, and we expect they will multiply as we adapt to life here.

We have a nice clean room in an above standard home for Togo. The home has cement floors and walls and a wood ceiling under a metal roof. We sleep under a mosquito net (issued to us by PC along with our bikes, helmets, medical kit, kerosene lantern, water filter and propane stove…) on a comfortable bed and take refreshing (really!) cold showers or warm bucket baths. Food will be described in another email, as I feel we may already have lost half our readers.

We miss our family and friends but feel your presence and your prayers, and it is helping us to keep strong. So keep ‘em coming. Philo, our “host mom” is a Baptist and has enthusiastically asked to learn our table prayer. We have been blessed to be placed in her home.

Now it’s my turn – Wayne typing now. Not too much to add to what Cate said. The best thing about Togo is the people and their faces. The worst thing is the humidity. I expect in a few months we will get used to it. We said we were going to embrace change – well we have done that in spades. Peace Corps kind of doles out the change with a few days preparation in Philly, a few days in Lome” and now training – but it is still overwhelming when you experience it – especially with some hospital time thrown in feeling lousy. But now that I am mostly well I am still glad we have taken this adventure. So far it has not disappointed us in that regard.

Love to you all,
Cate and Wayne


LMW said...

oh my goodness. what a way to begin your adventure. we are praying that you are both back up and fully okay again. how very scary for you both.

we spent father's day weekend with the kids - they are doing great - lifted a glass of wine to you, wayne. happy father's day.

dustin leaves sunday for johns hopkins and julianna comes here on thursday for four days of visiting and work. we will be paying her to paint, clean carpets, etc to help with the financial shortfall the kids have with funding cuts.

tom and dustin had quite a fun time taking apart the bowflex to fit in the car. it was so hard to be at your home and not have you there. you were sorely missed by us all.

we have not yet reassembled the bowflex. first there was work, then the garage door spring broke and well, just the normal old things of life. nothing as dramatic as your past several weeks.

you are in our thoughts and prayers everyday and are missed by all who love you. take good care of each other. hugs - phyllis

ruthandbillgoodwin said...

What a beginning!! It can only get
better!! Bill and I are sorry you were ill - the worst kind! Is it the food, climate, bugs?? No matter as long as you are better
and back to your activities.
Need any more used film containers
or old prescription bottles?? Just
in case---

Our thoughts and prayers are with
you - for an exciting and success-
ful sojourn in the heart of Africa!\With Love, Ruth and Bill G.

Riggaloo said...

Hey there! I have sent a couple of letters (LONG -- 4-5 pgs each). They should reach you by, say, Dec :). Love, Julianna

Indie said...

Great blog C e & Wayne. I'm glad I stopped for a moment to read what you have to say :-)


Héctor Ojeda said...

I like african exotic world. Congratulation and good like. I not speak inglish... Sorry.

Bye... From Chile, South America.