Monday, September 1, 2014

Update- Ebola Version

Our biggest news is the Ebola outbreak in Africa.  We have been watching as it spreads across Western Africa, staying aware of how close it approaches the Republic of Congo.

Map of the current outbreak in the DRC.  From Reigning in Life
On Sunday, August 24, we received reports of death from Ebola in the Equatorial Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (across the river from us.)  This is a separate strain and separate outbreak of the Ebola virus than in Western Africa, and the virus was traced to someone preparing bushmeat.

We confirmed our evacuation plan with our team, and we have kept an eye on the situation.  The short version of our evacuation plan is that if the outbreak comes closer or grows significantly bigger, we would evacuate all non-medical personnel and short term people.  Then if things progress, the decision would be made to evacuate the medical personnel as well.  With the difficulty of travel to and from Impfondo, it was necessary to make sure we have the possibility of chartered flights for evacuation.

Part of our team evacuation plan is that everyone is free to make the decision to leave earlier if they believe that would be best for themselves and their family.  For some of our team, their mission has chosen to have them travel to Brazzaville- as soon as they can get commercial airline tickets.  However, they won’t just be waiting in Brazzaville.  They will help coordinate the efforts to set up an Ebola screening and response plan for Impfondo.

The border between the two Congos has been closed in this area.  The affected area has been placed under quarantine.   So far, there have been no significant changes with the outbreak in the DRC, and our family will be staying here in Impfondo.

Our hope is that the Ebola outbreak in the DRC will not spread here.  However, we are preparing for the potential spread.  Stephen has been meeting with government officials and other NGO’s in the area to talk about Ebola prevention and education.  The local officials are taking this very seriously.  There are plans to have public health campaigns, including announcements on the radio.  Dr. Cyriaque (medical school graduate from the CAR) was able to attend one of these meetings on Saturday when Stephen was busy with patients.  He came back with posters and information to place around the hospital.  It’s encouraging to us to see an African doctor taking an active roll here at the hospital.

Stephen has been training our hospital guards how to do a screening at the gate, and have those with suspicious symptoms wait for a nurse to evaluate them rather than entering the general hospital area.  The nurses will have special training classes as well.

At this point, our hospital is not equipped or staffed to treat Ebola.  We do not want to put our nurses and other workers at risk if we do not have proper equipment.  The local government hospital will have isolation areas, and patients will be referred there.  Things could change if outside help arrives.  Pray for wisdom with all these decisions.

In the meantime, we are trying to keep life as normal as possible.  The kids start school tomorrow, and they are enjoying the last of their summer.  They are aware of the possibility of evacuation, and know that we would be temporarily separated from Stephen.  Having been through possible evacuations before, they take it all in stride.

Ebola is big news right now, but it is still much more likely for people in Africa to die from other causes- malaria, malnutrition, various infections, wars, other violence, tetanus, childbirth… the list goes on.  Please continue to pray for the victims of Ebola, but also the other people in Africa.  With many of the healthcare personnel withdrawing, it is even more difficult than usual to get access to healthcare.  There are attempts made to calculate the numbers who have died from Ebola, but there is no way to calculate the indirectly related deaths.

What’s next:
1) Pray for our teammates who are traveling to Brazzaville, hopefully this Wednesday, September 3.  There are many logistical details involved.

2) Stephen will be the only fully trained doctor here.  That is difficult at the best of times, and this is not the best of times.  We are grateful that Dr. Cyriaque can help, but he has not completed his training and still needs supervision. Pray for Stephen’s health and energy levels as he does medical work, as well as the extra work involved to prepare for a potential outbreak and a potential evacuation.

3) Our homeschool-ICI Academy- starts tomorrow. (September 2)

4) Nurses training and education will continue with the focus switching to preventing, recognizing, and treating Ebola.

5) We bought our tickets to go to Soddo Christian Hospital in Ethiopia for the month of November.  It’s hard to think that far ahead right now, but if all goes well, Stephen will spend November learning a type of orthopedic surgery.

6) Repatriation of people from the DRC has begun.  So far, it has not affected our employees.  Pray for those involved, and for those living with uncertainty.  The situation has been further complicated by the closing of the border between the countries in the area.

7) Ebola continues to spread, especially in Western Africa.  Pray for all those effected by Ebola, directly and indirectly.

8)  It may still be necessary for us to evacuate.  Pray for our family’s safety and health, and for wisdom in making decisions about staying or going.

This graphic shows the life cycle of the ebolavirus. Bats are strongly implicated as both reservoirs and hosts for the ebolavirus. Of the five identified ebolavirus subtypes, four are capable of human-to-human transmission. Initial infections in humans result from contact with an infected bat or other wild animal. Strict isolation of infected patients is essential to reduce onward ebolavirus transmission. from


Nurses walking between buildings
The ambulance ready to take a critically wounded patient to the airport for transfer to Brazzaville.

There's a story behind this picture. When Mama Giselle was washing laundry in our front yard, she came to get me, telling me with excitement to bring my camera. I didn't get all of what she said, but it sounded like there was a decapitated animal in our front yard. Unsure if I wanted a picture of THAT, I still grabbed the camera, and ran out to see. It turns out that there was some type of animal with its head stuck in a bottle. At first we couldn't tell what it was, and we were all afraid to touch it! It turned out to be a young cat. After attracting a bit of a crowd with all the excitement, she was able to get him free, and he ran way.

Some of the MKs had a time with Christoffer Knuff, the owner of Knuthenborg Safaripark in Denmark.  They loved hearing him talk about animals.

A drive by shot of the market
Isabelle found these beautiful pink flowers
This man saw me with the camera, and really wanted his picture taken. His wife was a little more hesitant, and you can see she's hiding partly behind him.
Local transport- some men moving wood for a job

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Around the Web

From Millie Delion via Facebook: Mountain biking on our rusty beater bikes, African thunder and lightening storm, Congo jungle trails and even a decent fall in a huge mud puddle... But we found the village- and even though the little patient we were going to visit to make sure was still ok was out in the woods with her family hunting caterpillars - she is healthy and doing well and we received a gift of Aka mushrooms.. What a great Saturday

Old Scars from Reigning in Life:
One of our interesting patients recently came to us with very old injuries. In 1997 the Republic of Congo went through a civil war. Many of the wounds of that time have healed but some remain. Diane came to us with many unhealed scars from that war. During the war she was chased by rebels while riding on the top of a large truck. She fell off the top and the fall crushed a part of her spinal column paralyzing her from the waist down. For many years after the injury she struggled with her new disability in a country where no grace or accommodation is given to the disabled. Many are left to fend for themselves in whatever way possible. They are often disowned by families and wander the streets looking for handouts.
Read the rest here *warning surgical pictures*


From New Sight Congo via Facebook: Maman Marthe is a precious pygmy lady with leprosy. Sarah is the most inspirational missionary who has dedicated her life to serving the poor. We call her Mother Teresa of Congo! Here we are celebrating Maman Marthe's new sight after her eye operation!
Our 3 new trainees are doing really well. It motivates them to learn more when they can see the tangible help that they are giving our patients.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Our ship has come in...

The boat we have been waiting for arrived with personal items and hospital items. Now begins the work of organizing the items and verifying that everything has arrived.

Our last suitcase from our trip finally made it here! It was mostly clothes, but the boys had been anxiously awaiting a few things that were in that suitcase. (We also had Laryngeal Masks, a stethoscope, and a diagnostic kit. Doesn't everyone travel like that?)

Monday, August 25, 2014


Biking past a small village
Safou, a local fruit, ripening on the tree
Sisters at the market

The nurses working at the hospital have had some optional classes over the last few months. We had a special review/exam time for them. They went to four stations to review and answer questions. All the missionaries got involved- teaching classes, donating supplies, and helping with the review! We couldn't get everyone together for a picture, but here is most of the group.

Women here carry heavy loads!

A honey badger some young boys wanted to sell to us. (I said no.)

Monday, August 18, 2014


Someone wanted to sell us this bird as a pet. I had to say no. 

Soccer under the palm trees

Another beautiful sunset

With more rain, the roads become less passable.

Prayer for Isabelle Harvey on her last Sunday before returning to the US for university.