18 November 2016

It’s 6:56 PM and I am curled up in my bed, with cozy sweatpants on and my freshly showered hair is leaving a damp spot on the pillow propped up against the wall.  This is my Friday night.  And it’s glorious.

This week we ran two 2-day courses plus a training-of-trainers in the middle; the topic was pediatric anesthesia, the venue a local hotel, and it’s my job to make it happen.  Often we run these types of courses in a three-day format, which means we usually have Monday to sort ourselves out and the translators out and gives time for the guest instructors to adjust to the culture and the temperature and the, shall we say, more lenient sense of timing among the Beninese.  However we did this one differently, so it was full on from the start; very full, long days, and then dinner together afterwards, so the introvert in me is desperate to lie here and eat chocolate and mindlessly scroll through social media feeds until I turn out my light well before 9pm.   But I can’t help but reflect on the week and feel nothing but gratitude that I get to be a part of this.

Fifty people are now able to deliver safer anesthesia and critical care to the children of this country.  One of the doctors I work with remarked at the end of the course that few parents would value anything greater than they value their children; trusting their most precious possession into the hands of doctors and hospitals is truly an act of courage and hope.  Hope that they can and will save their child; that child that may grow up to be the next president, or the one that cures cancer, or the one that helps to eliminate poverty.  The hope is tangible, among parents and patients and medical staff alike; only fitting that hope is exactly what we are also able to offer, in the form of training, encouragement, methods and processes that hopefully improve the health and wellbeing of everyone involved.  What an honor to be an agent of hope in this place. 

Nine of those people have also been trained and resourced to be able to deliver the training themselves; multiplication, sustainability, hope for a future.  These could be the ones that transform surgery and critical care in this country, in this region, in this continent.  Oh, may it be so!

I’m in the process of training others to take over this responsibility for running courses; when I ran my first course three years ago we were sort of just figuring things out as we went along.  But now we have systems, processes, templates, checklists, and plans that I have loved creating and crafting and adjusting, but now it’s time to pass the baton.  I’m grateful to have been a part of creating something that will last; not only in Mercy Ships, but in the lives of the people we have taught and served and loved.   As I look forward to working on some other capacity building projects I hope and pray those that come behind me will stand on my shoulders and reach greater heights as agents of hope and pursuers of excellence in what we do. 

So tonight I curl up in bed with a tired body and a full, full heart.  Thank you, friends, family, and supporters – I could not do this without you. You are a part of this legacy; you are agents of hope to the people of Benin.  Thank you, from the depths.


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