Audrey Watkins grew up at Trietsch, and it was through Mission Mozambique that God revealed His plan for her life. Read Audrey's story, and join us for the Mozambique Silent Auction and Mozambique Live to support this worthy ministry.
It's difficult for me to put into words what my experiences in Mozambique mean to me. Since I was eight years old, I knew that I wanted to go to Africa. I guess I "felt a calling," as some would say. When I first told my mom about this strong desire I had, I don't think she would have ever imagined that 15 years down the road, a small village in Mozambique, Africa would have stolen my heart the way it did.
I was only 14 on my first trip; my plan was to teach Vacation Bible School to the local children and play with the orphans in a nearby orphanage. To my surprise, I was drawn to the Chicuque Rural Hospital. I will never forget the faces of the children sick and hurting, often laying in the dirt, in a make-shift waiting room outside. I knew I could not do much, but I wanted to help in any way possible to relieve their pain.
It was this short amount of time I spent in the hospital that forever changed the course of my life and set my internal compass to serving others through a career in nursing. I am now a Registered Nurse in the Intensive Care Unit with Baylor Medical Center in Dallas.
Seven years after my first trip, I was fortunate enough to return to Mozambique. This time, however, I had already completed three years of nursing school and got the chance to have a more hands-on experience. My last trip left me with such wide variety of emotions…
- Sadness. I cannot express how hard it was for me to stand back and witness suffering that would not exist in hospitals in America due to our advancements in medications and technology.
- Frustration. Every single day, nearly 100 people of all ages line up outside of the hospital's emergency room waiting to be examined. And each day I would walk into the ER to see doctors and nurses just sitting around. At the end of their work day (which is 3:30 PM at the hospital), up to 30 people (that I remind you likely walked hours to get there and have been waiting all day to be seen) have to go home unseen by a physician or nurse and try again the next day. I discussed this frustration of mine with the director of the hospital and he explained to me that is simply the way things work in Mozambique.
- Impressed. Girls as young as 16 and 17 had left their families to attend nursing school; from what I gathered, after just a few months of classwork the students were thrown into delivering babies, starting IVs, and caring for patients at the end of their lives with little to no guidance from instructors. Yet, they knew what to do. Sickness and death is a part of their daily lives.
During my second trip, there were a couple stories that stood out to me. There was one nursing student named Eulalia that I became quite close with as she was one of the only ones that spoke English. I will never forget the look on her face when I told her there's a medication mothers in labor can choose to receive that makes them lose sensation below the waist (an epidural). This was such a crazy concept for her.
The hospital delivers on average 10 babies a day and most of these births are twins. If you have a normal pregnancy you do not go to the hospital; only very, very young mothers with their first delivery or complicated deliveries go to the hospital. I was in the delivery room assisting in the delivery of twins. The doctor handed me the first baby and I immediately started to clean him up. Quickly the second baby was born and I went straight to work coddling and cleaning him up as well. The nurse was trying to get my attention as I worked, but I wasn't certain what she was saying until I finally understood her to say "HIV" as she pointed to the mother. Suddenly I realized that I was cleaning the blood off these precious babies and their mother was infected with HIV. The babies would be tested after 4 weeks to see if their fate was the same as their mothers. I often think of those sweet boys and wonder what has become of them.
I have so many more stories from that summer: both inspiring and tragic. Ask me about them sometime. The overall feelings I walked away with were hope and excitement. If a hospital could do so much and save so many lives with so few resources, imagine what could be done if we enabled them with more life-saving resources our hospitals take for granted.
Though I had the opportunity to utilize some of my clinical nursing skills, my main objective for this trip was to observe and determine what the hospital's most critical needs were, return to the US, and share my experiences with MDiM's Health Committee. I intend to do the same thing when I make my third trip in July, 2017.
A few of the needs I documented were:
- Serious medication shortage - especially antibiotics
- Bed sheets - the hospital has NO bed sheets
- Blankets for babies (mothers have to bring their own blanket)
- Currently no functioning washers or dryers- everything is hand washed and then hung on a line to dry (doesn't sound very sanitary, right?!)
- General practitioners, plumbers, electricians
I want you to know your giving makes a difference. Your giving allows Trietsch to provide these basic needs to the hospital plus staffing, training, health education and so much more. You might not be able to make a trip to Africa, but you can be part of this ministry by participating in the Mozambique Silent Auction and learning more about our efforts.
This little village on the other side of the world has changed my life. When I come home, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for everyday items. I turn my faucet off and on. I stare at my refrigerator. I marvel at the medical advancements I get to enjoy at my hospital when I walk into work each day. God is at work in me when I go to Africa and when I come back home. Keep this village of God's children in your prayers.