Bolgatanga Regional Hospital and other stories
Last summer, Steve was on a tour of Ghana to visit our Mission Society Colleagues serving in northern Ghana and Togo. Having spent some time with Sue K [her blog], he is now in Bolgatanga, with the Bolga Bartletts, Dave and Ellen. For some reason this post never posted, and suddenly it just showed up. So here it is a year later.
One morning Dave and Ellen take me to see the Bolgatanga Regional Hospital. We are there to help along the process of a young man, Brother A., who has Hepatitis B. The process we are helping has nothing to do with efficiency.
The hospital has misplaced Brother A’s folder
:1, and so orders are given to create a new folder :2, then to wait in long, slow moving queue, to create a new folder :3, and with folder in hand to wait to see the doctor :4,5. It could be a study in inefficiency, but Dave and Ellen know the system and somehow captured the doctor’s cell phone number. A quick phone call later, the doctor agrees to meet them and we join the queue to wait to bypass what could have been days of waiting, instead of just hours :6. Six hours.
Receiving the doctors news, and what is next.
It all would be a tragic situation, hopeless, without the evidence of God working through Dave and Ellen, and yet through it all Brother A’s mother is patient.
Jolia’s son is the top student in his class, a strong good looking young man that is the picture of health. He is in contrast to the baby Jolia back loads all morning. Known locally as a spirit child, something is a bit off with Baby Y. His eyes don’t catch yours, and he fusses and cries even less than most Ghanaian babies, who are stoic, a back loaded passengers to their mother’s life.
It is believed that the birth of a spirit child’s coincided with some tragic event in the village or family
, like a sickness or death of a family member. Babies born under these circumstances are believed to be a bad omen, cursed by the ancestors, and must be returned otherwise more bad things will happen. Yet Jolia has gone against tradition, and fought for the child to live, not letting the village elders take it to be left to die. Read more about Baby Y’s story.
Jolia is the living embodiment of a quote by Barbara Kartz Rothman:
“Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength” 
And I would add that for Jolia, her inner strength, if evidence of a quiet faith in God. Read more of her story
Still the process takes all morning. Lab tests are ordered for Brother A, new prescriptions given, and by 1:30pm--we’ve been at this since 7:30am--we drop him off at school. Ellen gives him a
cedi to buy lunch (thirty cents) ,and that how we learn this will be his first meal of the day.
Ellen asks “Jolia, do you have any food in the house?”
“Oh, no Mommie.” So it is off to the market to buy rice, oil and fish.
At the Market
Ellen’s compassion is so heartfelt. Dave has been so steadfast in his support of her heart’s longing, never complaining, or even rolling an eye. Later we meet another woman who runs a foster home, whom the Bartletts have been helping and Dave has to remind her that they can only help One by One. In fact Dave made her a T-shirt that says just that “1x1”, and she happens to wearing it today.
 Rothman, Barbara Kartz Weaving a Family: Untangling Race and Religion, Beacon Press, 2005