Wow, this trip has been amazing in so many ways. I’ll be telling stories for months before I cover everything. Yesterday, President Banda came to Beit Cure hospital to visit Dr. Clawson. (This photo was on the front page of the newspaper today. Dr. Clawson and I are seated in scrubs, President Banda is on the right in a gown and surgical mask. Tshoma, our favorite anesthesiologist is on the left in the green srubs). The two met last year when President Banda saw Dr. Clawson on CNN, featured for his work in Zimbabwe, and called Dr. Clawson to invite him to Zambia. Dr. Clawson and his daughter spent a day with the President and his wife last year and hence we are here in Zambia doing this cleft lip and palate work. President Banda came to the hospital and spent time touring the facilities, meeting the staff and patients and capped off his visit with a stop in the operating room where he and Dr. Clawson rekindled their friendship. Well, that was all fun and good, but here is the best part. President Banda announced during his visit to the Beit Cure hospital that the Zambian government would take over paying the salaries for the doctors and nurses at the hospital! You can’t imagine the excitement and joy that this brought to the staff. Now the charitable donations given to Beit Cure will help even more children as these wages are covered by the government and donation money can go towards equipment, outreach cinics, transportation for patients from distant villages, etc.
So, aside from surgery, we have been part of a huge improvement in the financial situation at this hospital. And, tomorrow, we go to the State House (think White House) for a banquet with the President and several staff from Beit Cure. We believe that when we return next year, we will find that more patients have been able to travel to the hospital for cleft lip and palate surgery. And our dear friends (doctors, nurses and other staff) will have salary increases that they really need. There is a “brain drain” in Zambia as the few well trained doctors and nurses are tempted to leave the country for better paying jobs. Thankfully there are some who stay, work at this hospital and care for the poor.
Thanks for reading, for the supportive words and messages and for your prayers for our work and safety.There is so much more to tell..