I can't unsee the seen, and unhear what I heard.
Upon hearing that we will be doing a hospital visit, I was undecided whether I wanted to go or not. I didn't know if my heart could handle it. I battled myself, and then my best friend told me, I'd regret not going.
I prayed and prayed. I woke up this morning and decided to go.
I was told to hold my emotions in, for it is of no help for mothers to see me more upset then them. It doesn't comfort them in any way. I prayed for strength.
I walked into the waiting room of the hospital, as the nurse was leading us through. Little eyes were on us, desperate eyes of the mothers were on us.
The hospital is solely for children, funded by the government, which means it isn't funded very well. Doctors are so very few and even fewer nurses. Not everyone at the hospital has been attended to medically, the hospital doesn't provide food simply because there is no funds for that nor time to even prepare the food.
The kids are taken in not on first come first serve basis, but the severity of their sickness, and you can imagine that a pretty serious disease could still be overlooked because of something more severe.
Walking through with our backpacks full of soap and sugar, I look around and take it all in. At first, I thought "I can handle this." The rooms are set up with grouping kids and families that have the same sickness, so one room would have children sick with malaria, another sickle cell, then there's an emergency room, and chronic room.
In each room, often there weren't enough beds for the kids, so the families and their kids had to share beds, it was very difficult to make our way to the kids, but we did it. Walking in the malaria room, I saw babies as young as 2 months laying lifeless on their bed. I heard agonizing cries of one year olds, and yet in the midst of that I saw at least one smile as we blessed the family with soap and sugar. I looked at the babies, not just glanced, I really looked at them, wanting to hold each and everyone and wanting to make them feel better. I listened to their mothers, and saw the desperation and loss of hope in their eyes. I wanted to break down and cry for them, but I had to stay strong. I would lay my hand on each sick child and sometimes their sick mothers and I'd pray to God that He would lay His healing hand on them. The cries of the children pierced my ears, as I spoke louder over families, I couldn't help but lose a little bit of boldness in my prayers, I couldn't help but open my eyes and see their tears roll down their little helpless faces. I knew right then and there, I could not even open my mouth anymore, for if I did, the tears would not stop flooding my eyes.
I had my team member take over praying as I just held on tight to the families and their kids. Next room was sickle cell room, seeing an enormous amount of exhaustion was beyond overwhelming. Both the children and the mothers seemed as though they were just on their last bit of hope, if any at all. Parents sleep at the hospital with them, whether it be on the floors or right beside their sick ones. I chocked up. But I swallowed it and went on.
Chronic room was next, and that was completely unbearable. Before walking in through those doors, I just heard loud wheezing, I turn my head and my eyes find a boy who was bleeding uncontrollably through his nose, while having a breathing tube in, his eyes were swollen shut and his mother in a worn out red dress had a bucket of dirty water and a washcloth wiping his face. He laid there, helpless, hopeless, in pain, not being able to breath, probably not even understanding why things like these are happening to him. We were told that we couldn't touch them. I'm not a rule follower, but before I broke that rule I asked "why?" and because of their low immunity system, they didn't want them to catch any bacteria or germs that I might have on my hands. Walking further and standing beside him, I glanced at his bed, that was spotted with blood, I looked at the wall, and I could see blood just splattered on the wall. I breathed in a deep breath and held my team mates hand so tight she probably lost circulation. The mother in her red dress, kept wiping his face as we said our prayers.
This child. His sounds. His face. I will never ever ever forget. His mothers hopeless brown eyes and tired body, I will never ever ever forget.
Walking out of the room, we talked with the nurse, this little boy, had HIV, tuberculosis, and they couldn't figure out what was wrong with his lungs. She said no medicine can help, at this point its only God. The nurse herself seemed so tired, but she's there day in and day out. Her eyes see so much suffering and she said "too much I see, too much." I told her she was a strong woman, filled with so much love. She loves her people, and she is helpless herself and has no resources to even help the simplest of sickness, and she watches it get worse and worse, stands by the families with no good news...day in and day out.
We made our way out to where I group was, and i walked straight to Janet's arms and let out a little cry. In this country, they don't show tears, but she held me and kept saying "it's ok Natalia, it's ok." As her gentle hands rubbed my back, the tears were rolling down my face onto her dress, and I knew I had to stop. It was a heavy sight.
The drive was silent which was unusual, I laid my head on Melissa's shoulders, she asked in her beautiful Ugandan accent "are you ok?" I said "not the least bit." Driving back I just kept hearing the babies cries, with each blink of an eye I saw faces, kids, and i saw him-that lifeless boy. I kept getting chocked up.
Stepping out a team member laid his hand on me and said "you made it, how was it?" All I could muster up was "Ummm" and all he said was "Ok." I basically ran to my room, sat on my bathroom floor and I wept. I cried out, I kept saying how it just isn't fair. It is not fair. I couldn't bare it any longer. I couldn't do anything but weep for these people and lift up higher than ever before.
After a my cry session, I remembered something Katie Davies said in her book "Kisses from Katie" it says:
"Every day I have spend in Uganda has been beautifully overwhelming; everywhere I have looked, raw, filthy, human need and brokenness have been on display, begging for someone to meet them, fix them. And even though I realize I cannot always mend or meet, I can enter in. I can enter into someone's pain and sit with them and know. This is Jesus. Not that He apologizes for the hard and the hurt, but He enters in, He comes with us to the hard places. And so I continue to enter."
I don't come here to do be this great American that comes in and solves every problem, feeds every mouth, comforts every child, heals every wound. I come here because it's difficult, because if I just simply enter, kneel down by the hurting mothers side, and hold the babies hand, and sit there in their pain and intercede for them, than that is enough. I don't come here for the experience or perspective, I come to love. I come to serve the "least of these" I come because hope isn't easily accessible to them. My dream is to change a village, change the world, but if its just one child at a time, one desperate prayer at a time, then it is all well worth it and it is not in vain.
To me, every where you go, every face you see- is the "least of these," I'm called and was given the strong desire and pull to love the least of these. The ones everyone doesn't even bat an eye at, the ones who seem too broken to fix, I want to enter. I want to sit beside those.
I will never unsee what I saw today, it cut deep. I will never not hear the cries, they will ring in my ears.