Tuesday, April 26, 2011


About 20 % of the local population is Moslem.  Many are Fulani, a nomadic Tribe spread widely across Sub-Saharan Africa.  Many of them remain herders and live in the more remote and mountainous areas.  

I had the pleasure of seeing Alhadji today.  I have seen him on a number of occasions the last 9 months and one constant is he always has a big smile on his face and is most grateful for anything you do for him or his people.  I had sensed he held a high position in his tribe and today he told me he is the prayer leader for his village.  Getting to know people like Alhadji has been one of the wonderful things of our mission experience.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Good Friday

Archbishop Cornelius of Bamenda
Good Friday is a National Holiday here in Cameroon.  Apparently the Moslems were given 2 National Holidays and likewise the Catholics were given 2.  There is not the same separation of Church and State that we have back home.  

Outside of Church
This afternoon the Hospital Staff will meet and do the Stations of the Cross between the Hospital and the Church.  Other groups will likewise start the Stations of the Cross from other areas then we will all meet for Good Friday Services at the Church.  Holy Week is looked forward to here with great anticipation and is actively participated in by many.  Easter Morning Service will be a wonderful event.
Rose, Terry and Sr. Delphine

Thursday, April 21, 2011

This day I will never forget.

Tuesday Terry, Jim, Rose and I accompanied 15 Sisters and hundreds of parishioners from St Anthony’s to the Chrism Mass in Bamenda.  It was an absolutely amazing experience as thousands of people from the entire diocese celebrated at the Cathedral with the Archbishop and all the priests of the diocese.  We were there an hour early for the 5 hour mass. 

One of the Sisters had told me before mass that I would not even notice the length and she was right.  The enthusiasm was unbelievable and the 500 member plus choir was amazing.  The offertory took over an hour for the people to bring in all the corn, rice, oil, livestock, bananas, plantains and more.  The diocese uses the gifts to feed the poor.  Many people waited hours outside the cathedral to march down the aisle with their contribution.  I was chosen to carry the oil for the blessing of the sick and present it to the Archbishop.  I was honored to join these amazing people of Faith.  As Jim Unger said, “This is a day I will never forget.”

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Jim and Rose

Dr. Jim Unger and his wife Rose arrived here this week for a 1 month mission.  Jim is the head of the OB-GYN Residency Program at LSU Medical School in Shreveport, LA.  Jim is working with Dr Dabo, the OB-GYN here at St. Martin de Porres Hospital.  They have been putting in long hours this week but both of them are enjoying each other as Jim loves to teach and Dr. Dabo is enjoying having a colleague to discus cases with.  

Rose is working at the orphanage.  Having raised 3 girls she has been able to pass on motherly advice to the caregivers.  

Terry and I are enjoying Jim and Rose’s company.  We look forward to the rest of their stay with us.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monica Headed Home

Monica is a 72 year old lady who has been in the hospital for nearly 3 weeks.  She was extremely weak when she came in and we discovered diabetes with very high blood sugars.  The diabetes responded to medications but both of her knees became hot, red and swollen.  She had pseudo gout and I had to drain her knees several times and eventually inject cortisone into them until she could move.  

As she finally became stronger the last week she announced to the ward that I was her pikin (child) sent to her from God.  Each morning this week has been a delight as she has greeted her pikin when I arrive for rounds.  Monica was discharged home today and I will miss her morning greeting.  

Monday, April 11, 2011


Beldine and a happy mom
Beldine is the 5 month old child who was started on HIV medication 2 weeks ago.  I admitted her this week with pneumonia and because of her HIV status I was worried how she would do. 

Fortunately, her fever quickly dissipated and her cough has nearly resolved.  I discharged her this morning and hope she will continue to do well.   

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Matilda on my mind, not a country western song but a frame of mind for me today.  Matilda is a 31 year old lady who came into the hospital early Saturday morning.  As she laid shaking in bed with a temperature of 105 she told me she was "fine".  She had obviously been ill for many months as she was extremely wasted and weighed about 80 pounds.  I did not need to do blood work to know she had HIV.  She was suffering from multiple opportunistic infections including pneumonia and diarrhea.  She basically had a nonfunctioning immune system.  She was extremely anemic and blood transfusions were given.
On Sunday and Monday rounds she repeated her "I am fine" response when asked how she was.  Her temperature continued to fluctuate between 102 and 105.  During the early hours this morning her body could fight no more and she passed away.
Today I found myself thinking about her, wondering how she had managed to survive at home as long as she had.  Surely she must have known that something was seriously wrong for some time.  Did she suspect HIV?  Was she in a state of denial?  Was she fearful of the Stigma of HIV?  In Matilda's case I will never know the answers.  I suspect there are hundreds of thousands of other Matildas out there.  I hope and pray that they will come in for diagnosis and treatment sooner than Matilda did.
I know that Matilda is free of pain and suffering today.  Let us all pray for the other Matildas and their families.   

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


On Saturday grandma brought Peter in.  He is 10 years old and had several days of fever and cough.  His medical record showed that he had HIV and his CD4 nearly a year ago was good at 463. 

Apparently his mother abandoned Peter and his 3 younger siblings and grandma was providing their care.  She was absolutely devastated when informed of Peter's diagnosis.  Germar, my nurse, did a nice job explaining to her about treatment options and reassuring her that all was not hopeless. 

Peter will return this week for a CD4 and likely will start on medications for his HIV.  His 3 younger siblings will also come in for HIV testing.  Peter has something going for him that all HIC children do not, a loving and caring relative.