Thursday, September 11, 2008

Marie . My Friend . My Sister

Marie Jose. the Mother Teresa of Luputa

Marie is the head nurse of Maternity at Luputa General Hospital. We first met her when she came to the NRT training in Kinshasa in Aug 2007. Armed with a Neonatal Resuscitation Kit, she went back to Luputa and trained all her staff in maternity how to use the skills she had learned in the NRT training and then reached out to other clinics in the area and trained them.
One Sunday morning we got a call from a very excited Marie. She was crying and laughing saying, "Hallelujah, Praise God. Praise the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for teaching Marie Jose how to resuscitate babies. We just had a hard case. They said the baby was dead but I went through the algorithm and it worked, the baby started breathing. Hallelujah,we are saving babies in Luputa!"

We would not have ever started the Luputa Hospital Project if it had not been for Marie Jose. She was the one that invited us to the hospital and showed us what they were working with and convinced us to get the church to help.

On our last trip to Luputa, after the ceremony for the hospital project, Marie invited us to her small clinic she had started to care for the very poor.

The clinic has grown into an orphanage as she finds children without parents who need help. She is often brought children who are starving and need medical attention. She also helps widows with children feeding them and having the mamas help with the orphans. Presently she is caring for 40 orphans. This does not include the widows and their children.

On our visit we held a baby that was so malnourished and weak she could hardly cry.

This child had been found next to it's mother who had died.

No one knew how long the baby had been left on it's own but the baby was brought to Marie and she is keeping the baby at the clinic and caring for her.

This little girl was born in Marie's clinic and has lived there her whole life. Her mother died in childbirth. Her home is with Marie at the clinic.
Tears flowed as we were introduced to the 40 children she is trying to support without the benefits of a real orphanage. We tried comforting this baby but it wasn't until Marie took her in her arms that she cuddled in and found some comfort.
Marie has no where to house the children so she farms them out to families at night so they have a secure place to sleep and then they come back to her clinic during the day and she and her staff care for them.

They feed the children once a day a gruel and as you can see they are anxious to get it.

The clinic is a small 3 room structure with a small office a birthing room/exam room and a larger room where patients lie on the floor on blankets recovering from birthing a baby or from illnesses.

The birthing of babies is done under rather primitive conditions. The room was clean but without any equipment except a birthing table.
The day before we had given Marie a gift from Farrell and me. We gave her a stethoscope and a pair of nursing scissors. She was so excited and showed them to the hospital director and the staff. When we visited her little clinic we noticed that the nurse on duty had the stethoscope around her neck and the pair of scissors were sitting on the side table by the birthing table. It looked like she had found a good use for her gift.

On the wall of the birthing room is the NRT algorithm, handy for those difficult babies.

In the office was a small table that held the medicines she had stocked which were very few. There were also some vitamins. She tries to get vitamins and minerals donated where and when ever possible to supplement the diet of these children. Her supply was very meager.

We sat down in the small room, so close our knees touched. With us was Sis. Livingstone, Sis. Parmley and Sis. Moon besides Farrell and Me. She told us of her desperation for help. She wanted to know if the church could help support her orphanage or build her a dormitory to house the orphans. Both of these requests are outside of the guidelines for the church humanitarian services. We cried with her as she explained her dream of having a safe place for the orphans of Luputa.

Our hearts went out to her and so did some of our personal monies as none of us could think of any other way to help.

Marie is an ministering angel to her fellowman. Her hopes and dreams are all about how to help others. She is very outside herself in her wants and desires always trying to find ways to help those in need.

Marie is my kindred spirit. We are sisters. I love her and her tears about broke my heart. When we return home I will miss her tremendously. She reminds me of the song from Don Quixote, "To Dream the Impossible Dream," as her dream at this point does seem impossible and her task she has taken on, overwhelming.
From Don Quizote:

ALDONZA : Why do you do these things?
DON QUIXOTE: I hope to add some measure of grace to the world.
Whether I win or lose does not matter.
Only that I follow the quest.
ALDONZA What does that mean... quest?
DON QUIXOTE: It is the mission of each true knight...
His duty... nay, his privilege!

To dream the impossible dream,

To fight the unbeatable foe,

To bear with unbearable sorrow

To run where the brave dare not go;

To right the unrightable wrong.

To love, pure and chaste, from afar,

To try, when your arms are too weary,

To reach the unreachable star!

This is my Quest to follow that star,

No matter how hopeless, no matter how far,

To fight for the right

Without question or pause,

To be willing to march into hell

For a heavenly cause!

And I know, if I'll only be true

To this glorious Quest,

That my heart will lie peaceful and calm

When I'm laid to my rest.

And the world will be better for this,

That one man, scorned and covered with scars,

Still strove, with his last ounce of courage,

To reach the unreachable stars!

In the Congo there are thousands of people like Marie who care for orphans. Our hearts go out to them as they try to "right the unrightable wrong" done to these children. May the Lord bless them and keep them safe and may we all find ways to share our blessings to bless others.


Angela said...

Oh for heavens sakes Marilyn! I'm crying and it's only 8:45 in the morning. Breaks my heart. Life just isn't always fair is it?

Tandy said...

Wow. There are no words to describe what you have seen. Thank you so much for sharing the pictures. I am in tears! What a blessing Marie is to Luputa. What a blessing the two of you have been during your service there.

hOLLIANN said...

I have loved this blog, and I am sad your mission is coming to an end, although I am sure you are happy to rejoin family and friend. Thanks for sharing with everyone

Holli (Kaye Hamilton's daughter)

Jess said...

Marilyn! I was so happy to get your message! This last entry, how amazing. You have always done well at telling a story and helping us see what is going on. I am glad to hear you will be home before Christmas, we will be visiting for two weeks....I hope we can catch eachother during that time. I am sure my mom has your contact info. Thanks again for sharing.

Emma said...

Marie sounds like a amasing person I wish I cold meet her.