Monday, 3 June 2013

Hewa--one year later

WOW, incredible to think that it has been a year since our trip to Hewa.  Here is an update from Susan Kopf, New Tribes missionary and nurse.  Thank the Lord for what He is continuing to do among the Hewa people!


Dr Allan,
Hi, looking forward to seeing you all soon. It has been two years since we hugged our two children and we are very very ready! I am looking forward to cooking for them again! We are counting the days.
Things in this new village are going quite amazing. We never dreamed it would be going this well. The village has grown a lot. People from all over are moving here to hear the gospel and be closer to medical help. The class you taught a year ago has had an incredible impact on our people. Emiyas has been my right hand with the ladies and she has been invaluable! She knows the culture and she is able to teach the ladies in such a way that they that they can understand. Anyway, I wanted to share what was going on in here two weeks ago.
A lady and her husband from a village, that is a 12 hour hike away, arrived one evening with a very sick little 2 week old. This couple did not attend your class last year but did hear about it so she came in February for a prenatal check-up. Emiyas and I checked her out and Emiyas did a lot of teaching with her about childbirth, just as you taught her. We then gave her a few baby receiving blankets and a brand new razor and instructed her not to use it until it was time to cut the cord. If it was used, we instructed her to boil it well first.
As soon as I saw the little baby boy, I was sure he wouldn’t make it through the night. His fontanel was sunken deep and his face was contorted in pain. The little baby was super sick. His cord had been cut with an old razor (she didn’t save the razor for birth). On top of that, she didn’t tie the cord shut at birth and on top of that did the traditional custom of always squirting milk on the cut cord before putting the nipple into the baby’s mouth. That combined with the belief that if they don’t take a razor and make about 20 superficial slits on a newborns abdomen, the child will get a huge belly when it is older (worm belly). All of that combined equaled a massive infection of the lining around the intestines. The entire abdomen was rock solid hard. The belly button was protruding nearly 2 inches and looked pus filled and very red and painful. He was throwing up bile out of his nose and mouth often and had diarrhea. He was very hot as well. The baby was pooping so I suspected there was no intestinal blockage. He should have died! It is a miracle. Anyway, he was in so much pain that he didn’t sleep for the next few days, he just cried and cried and sucked his mom’s milk hoping that would relieve his pain. Eventually he lost his voice completely. I gave him a strong antibiotic immediately and within 3 days I could see considerable healing. I began to think he had a chance but now all he could do was sleep. He couldn’t suck anymore. He was too weak and dehydrated. I was frustrated because it was a miracle he survived and it didn’t seem right that he would now die of dehydration so I decided to put a tube in his belly through his nose to feed him and give him a rest. Of course I didn’t have one so I found a butterfly infusion tube for IVs (I believe you left it here) and we cut off the butterfly needle and then lit a match at the blunt plastic end and heated it slightly to soften the fresh cut plastic so it wouldn’t scratch all the way down. We also cut some holes on the side a centimeter above so that milk could come out there as well. I happen to have a manual breast pump so we expressed mom’s milk (they never heard of such thing) and then put her milk along with rehydration fluids, in syringes. After putting the tube in and checking for placement with the stethoscope, I then slowly gave him all the milk and his meds that way for a 24 hour period of time. The plan was to give him a 24 hour rest from sucking so he could sleep and get stronger. Sure enough, when the 24 hours were up, the little miracle was sucking strong. Now two weeks later, I don’t even recognize him! He is gaining weight and looking great. He has an umbilical hernia so his belly button is a bit larger but only a centimeter so he should be fine.
Anyway, the other miracle is that because of your teaching, the whole village reacted differently. As soon as the couple arrived with their sick baby, I needed to view the baby fully so I asked that he be taken out of the string bag. Well that is a huge no no in this culture but our villagers were fine with it and they coxed the father and mother to take him out of the string bag. This was the first time the father (and most men around) had ever seen a newborn. Our people taught that it was the ancestor’s lies that told them men can’t see a newborn. From then on, the baby was out of the bilum in the home they slept in and everyone viewed the baby freely. Within a week the father was actually holding the newborn.
Our Hewans came in to the house of the sick newborn regularly. They were all worried that mom would lose some of her milk while the baby was so sick so they brought cooked greens, sugar cane and other foods for mother. Emiyas came at one point and washed the newborn for the mother and gave the mother a new outfit to wear. When I came in to feed the newborn or give meds, the house was always full of men sharing the word with the father and mother and praying for the baby. Traditionally, nobody mourns the death of a newborn. It is expected but our people were showing that this little life was important and loved.
I am still in shock when I see the baby and remember all that the Lord has done. It was amazing to see the community come together to show this family love and care. This family has now decided to move her and live with us in this village. I will actually get to see this little one grow up.
Anyway, I wanted you to know that your classes had a huge impact on this village. I see it nearly every day! Thanks for taking the time and energy and finances to serve the Lord in this way.

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