‘Just now, this is all we can do’

Sister Stella Nwoye is on mission in Huambo. The area suffered great devastation during the twenty-seven- year civil war that ended in 2002. Four MMMs now provide basic health services in the city. Stella wrote about their recent decision to respond to the needs of a remote village.

‘Engaging our own pain and vulnerability, we go to people of different cultures where human need is greatest.’

‘This quote from our MMM Mission Statement took us to the village of Savala, 70 kilometres away, where people suffer from lack of health care. Their request for health services reached us in July 2015. After questions, letters and negotiations, we began to respond. One of the major health issues was scabies*.

‘We had been treating scabies in other villages but we realized Savala needed a quick response. We submitted a “small project” proposal to our MMM Congregational Leadership Team. This was approved and we were able to purchase medicines. Local people cannot pay very much but contribute whatever they can in farm produce such as maize, eggs, or cassava flour. We explained to them why they should contribute something to defray expenses.

‘Since we have been in Huambo, the government has given us some drugs and supplies, which we used mainly for the outreach programme. This stopped because of a financial crisis for the ministry of health.’

Enabling for prevention
‘Our concern is not only to provide treatment but also to empower the people so they can prevent disease. With this in mind, when we started clinics, a member of the team gave a health talk.
‘There was no place to do consultations so we used the car as a consulting room. Staff Nurse Leonilde and I vaccinated the children and pregnant women in the mission church. Staff Justina did an antenatal clinic in the church.
‘The roads are impassable during the rainy season so we stopped our visits during that time. When the rains finished we continued the programme. We found that the people responded to treatment. The scabies reduced as the people applied what they learned to avoid re- infection.

‘We still face challenges, such as bad roads and not having enough staff nurses. We live in hope that the government will find funds for the reconstruction of the roads to these villages. Managing with our current personnel sometimes means leaving the clinic understaffed on outreach days.’

*Scabies is an itchy, highly contagious skin disease caused by an infestation by a mite. It is transmitted by direct skin-to-skin contact. The main symptom is a severe and relentless itch, typically worse at night. Sleep becomes almost impossible. Scratching may predispose to secondary infections.