Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Time feels different here. A day can feel like a month – when evening comes it’s hard to remember what happened in the morning. And a month can feel like a century. And yet, when the year ends it feels like just yesterday it began. My time here is almost over, and on one hand I feel I’ve been here a lifetime, on the other hand there are times when it seems like the past three years just began earlier this week (maybe that’s an exaggeration – maybe more like a few months ago).

And things get done gradually – “little by little.” There’s even a proverb here, something like “slowly, slowly the snail crosses the road.” It’s hard to explain why things that are URGENT and NEED to happen – sometimes life and death things – can take 2 – 3 months to be resolved. Things that can be done in a day stretch out to a month here. Things that could be wrapped up in a week last for 2 – 3 months. Bureaucracy is a convenient excuse . . . but that’s not usually the only or the primary reason. There are probably a number of reasons that would require a book to explore – and my blog entries get long enough without that. (Stay focused, Steve . . .)

So that brings me to updates about two URGENT situations I wrote about. One was Elisha, the boy who needed surgery. The other was Morris, the man who is living with just one operable lung due to the inefficiency of the organizations placed here to help the refugees. There’s good news for both of these guys.

Shortly after writing about Elisha, almost enough money came in from different friends to cover his surgery. One of these friends also asked people she knew if they had any jewelry they wanted to donate so that Elisha’s mom, Doris, could continue trying to sell jewelry to help meet the other needs of her family. It was exciting: Elisha needed the surgery, UNHCR wouldn’t pay, and suddenly the door was open for it. This all happened in early December. But then Elisha got sick. Then his mother got sick. Then it was Christmas and New Year’s. Then the doctors were on break. Then there were problems because the family is of the Jehovah’s Witness faith, and they don’t allow blood transfusions. Then the doctor wanted to push UNHCR to come up with the money after all. And before I knew it, what (I believe) could have been accomplished in a few days is going on more than two months. And it’s URGENT. Finally, though, the family has been thoroughly informed of the risks of surgery and the consequences of no surgery and I advised them to make a decision and stand behind it – once and for all. They took a few days, then called me. We met, discussed their decision, and immediately went to the doctors to discuss it with them – and the doctors are moving ahead – at last. So, hopefully, I’ll be able to do another blog entry in the very near future with a couple of pictures of Elisha in the hospital, following his surgery.

A couple of days after I wrote that last update about Morris, a friend called from the US. She’s doing some other fundraising for work she wants to do here, and she felt it inside her that helping Morris was something she needed to do. So, she sent enough money for him to have the surgery, and a little extra so he can be comfortable – have some good food, get the medicines that might be prescribed which go above and beyond the quoted surgery price. She asked that I transfer the balance to the other work she is doing here if for some reason the UNHCR does finally come through to help him, or if any other assistance comes along to help him get the treatment he needs. And now, 2 months later, Morris is still waiting for his surgery. He’s constantly spitting things up from his lungs. He’s become skin and bones. He has almost no energy. For a month he literally couldn’t even lie down – he sat and slept at a table in his room.

But the good news for Morris is that the doctors on the camp have been urging UNHCR to do an emergency medical evacuation so that Morris can receive his surgery in the U.S.A. Morris has completed all the formalities – the interviews, the reviews of his medical and family histories, and whatever else was required. The doctors have told me everything is looking good for him to be leaving soon. I have hopes that, along with the picture of Elisha post-surgery, I’ll soon be able to show a picture of Morris boarding a plane.


At 6:26 PM, Blogger Nate said...

Reading your blog with my post-visit eyes makes me wish I had come years earlier - it means so much more to see pictures and recognize people and to read the little snippets of hope. It's all too easy now that I'm back to just stay focused on what's in front of me at work and at home, but then what's the point of having gone? Fingers crossed for everything continuing to move forward.

(Say hi to Joseph and everyone!)

At 2:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, I'm looking for Steve's brother Dean. I hear he is going to Ghana soon. I would like to mail Dean a package to bring to Steve for me. It has a much better chance of arriving and finding Steve if I can send it to Dean. So, if Dean or his wife Danielle or someone who knows them sees this, please send me Dean's email or phone number. I'm Steve's friend from Ghana who went to Dean and Daniele's wedding in Tucson. Contact me at florenceclark4731@msn.com Thanks!!

At 1:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks! I have Dean's email address.


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