Monday, July 30, 2007

Saturday's Update from Renk, Sudan

This update came in over the weekend from Peter's wife, Sara Smith:

Spoke with Peter earlier today via my new Call Sudan Calling Card (yeah!) He, Ellen and Andrew thank all of you for your prayers and continued support.

I love how coincidence (?) is God's way of being anonymous: Seconds before my call came through, Ellen handed him (Peter) the teacher's phone.

They are all happy, tired, but invigorated by their luxury cruise down the Nile today. They drove down to the water; jumped into souped-up canoes (think Camp Granada with extra-wide accommodations and an out-board motor!;) and traveled south, against current some 2 kilometers; roughly 2 1/2 hours. Everyone shot pictures along the way. The Nile was angry and muddy; churned up by recent heavy rains, so they ventured to the central part of the river and collected water for boiling and bathing. Then on to the Souk (market) to drink tea and coffee (not quite industrial Turkish strength, but much thicker than Starbuck's espresso!) By all accounts, it was delicious.

The White Nile

Peter was able to go to the local pharmacy today with Dr. Paul. The gold standard Malaria medication sells for 9 Sudanese pounds, which is approximately equivalent to $5 US dollars. Sounds cheap, but the average Sudanese monthly income is only 30 pounds, and when you figure in $1 for clinic and lab visits plus 4 pounds for every 10 tablets of Cipro; oh, just do the math. Peter brought bottles of 100 count Ciprofloxacin tablets for $5 bucks a pop. There must be a way to provide these folks with cheaper medications.

Re: bathing and drinking H2O: Peter has become the king of the 1.very little liter shower. All have become accustomed to being (pardon me) "Rank In Renk" Every one swelters and sweats in their tiny Tukuls: the huts average 90-95 degrees during the day and probably low to mid 80s over night. Thus, precious bodily fluids are lost and they wake to sodden bed sheets and damp pajamas. Safe drinking water is plentiful.

Andrew has experienced some diarrhea, but thankfully no fever, Ellen and Peter are healthy. Sahra, the beautiful cook and house-keeper has done her utmost to accommodate everyone's GI distress, as well as their preferences.

Tomorrow, Ellen will preach and Peter will give a short "word of encouragement." Next week, Peter plans a mini public health talk for local Sudanese women re: the health of their children. Men are not as concerned about polluted Nile water because: "It is not a problem for us, only for you who visit." Women bear and raise children and will be much more receptive to information. On Tuesday, Peter will shadow Dr. Paul to observe a "day in the life". By explanation, Peter has only been allowed to see clinic patients from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. over concern he would tire himself. Typically, Dr. Paul starts his day early; rounding on hospital patients, then to the clinic until mid-afternoon; then on to his private clinic in the Souk until 9:00 p.m.; and on to the hospital again in the late evening. (Nothing compared to US medical residents hours, but exhausting given the dearth of medical resources and the "chronic acuity" of need). On the way home, Peter will meet with a health minister in Khartoum about public health issues.

Thanks for all you do every day and for your love of the Sudanese people. Christ's peace.

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