By MARK MAYNARD / AFA
MOYO, Uganda – On our last day in Moyo the Amy For Africa mission team visited two places that were polar opposites – the Moyo Hospital and the Moyo Babies Home.
Our first stop was at the Moyo Hospital but don’t be misled by the word hospital. It looked more like a good place to go if you want to get sick is how team member Rob VanHoose put it. It was a dirty, dark place with holes in the tin roof where the blue sky could be easily seen. That means when it rains, you get wet on the inside. The hallways were dark and dingy.
Windows were broken, there’s a lack of medicines and the medical equipment is outdated. They are using dentist chairs from the 1970s and rudimentary tools for dentistry that looked like something from a horror movie. This entire hospital is a completely nonsterile environment. The X-ray machines don’t work and the blood work must be sent to Jinja to be completed. This is far from anything we know as a hospital in the United States.
As we took the tour, Rob Barber videoed room to room and I was snapping photographs. Trying doing that in any U.S. hospital. It’s an almost hopeless place. I cannot imagine that being my only option if a loved one was sick.
The medicine cupboards are practically empty since being restocked by AFA and United Christian Expedition last September. They don’t receive much help from the government or other agencies in and around Moyo. It may be one of the worst hospitals in the world yet they saw 85,000 patients in 2013. That’s an average of more than 230 a day, seven days a week. The frustration can be seen on the faces of the nurses, too, bless their hearts.
Dr. Maggie Lawentmann, one of our 12 mission trip members, was aghast at what she saw. So were the other nurses – Kathy Whitely, Amy Blankenbeckley and Chris and Amy Compston.
“I wouldn’t know where to begin,” Kathy said.
“It’s awful,” said Dr. Maggie. “Just awful.”
We saw hundreds in the waiting room with sick children and the children’s ward was full of sad cases, including one little boy who was in traction from being run over by a mophead, or botabota as they call it. We prayed with one mom and dad looking over their child who looked desperate for help. His temperature was high and he was lethargic.
The hospital officials gave us a tour of the building and it was truly depressing that this is where these people in the Moyo district have to go for help when they are ill. It is a government-run facility that was built in 1971, commissioned in 1978 and then ravaged during war in the early 1980s. Not much has been done since then as the building has fallen into disrepair. I’m not sure how they keep the doors open.
AFA supplies medicine for 43 medical clinics in the rural areas of Moyo but there are no doctors. However, those living in these areas may be 20 or 30 miles from coming to a hospital that, frankly, cannot help them much anyway.
Hospitals in our area – or anywhere in the United States – could give the Moyo hospital a boost with donations of medical equipment they are no longer using or is outdated. Anything would be better than the 45-year-old equipment that the one doctor on staff and nurses have to work with. We felt sorry for them along with the patients.
We left on a high note when we visited the Moyo Babies Home for the fourth time on the trip. This simply has to be one of the happiest places in Moyo. The Catholic nuns who run the orphanage are so full of love and the babies just want to show you their love. Our group smiled the longest and the biggest when we were at the Moyo Babies Home. These babies got deep into our hearts.
As we pulled out of the driveway at Brother Floyd Paris’s compound we left with much appreciation for what God has given us and shown us in the last dozen days. We left resolved to do what we can for the Ma’di people and to come back again.
The needs are many in the Moyo district but make no mistake the past two weeks showed them they have hope and are not forgotten by their friends in the United States.