primitive is relative.

I have probably started blog posts on five different topics over the last couple weeks, but I haven't felt like I could finish them - either the words just weren't coming, or I wanted to give some more time for my thoughts to marinate a little. So, instead, for today, I'll just share a quick thought.

I'm guessing that when most American doctors first visit the Bongolo Hospital, they consider it somewhat primitive. No large air-conditioned buildings, no widespread food or laundry service, no motorized beds and call buttons for in-patients. And though I believe it's absolutely amazing what God has built here and the wide scope of services provided, they're probably right - by American standards, it is primitive.

But today I attended the graduation ceremony and reception of Jean Claude Bataneni, who just completed his surgical residency at Bongolo. He was here with the PAACS (Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons) program. Tomorrow, he and his wife (also a doctor) and his two children are traveling back to his home country, Democratic Republic of Congo (also called Congo-Kinshasa, formerly Zaire), to work at the Nebobongo Evangelical Hospital. Outside of the operating room, there is no electricity and no running water. Compared to Bongolo, Nebobongo is primitive:

The area served is among the poorest in the DRC. The hospital has existed for the last 45-50 years as an orphan ministry with only intermittent outside support. The fees the patients pay do not cover the basic needs of the hospital. So more often than not, the staff does not receive a full salary. Yet the indigenous Christian community remains dedicated to the mission of keeping the hospital open. The pharmacy is never fully stocked and many repairs are deferred for lack of funds. The lab lacks most basic testing equipment.

The hospital is off the national power grid. So aside from the operating room which has a solar electric unit on the roof, the rest of the hospital has no electricity. They cannot afford the repairs or the cost of the diesel fuel to run the generator they have.

There is no running water outside the operating room. The steam to sterilize instruments is generated by wood fires. There is no sewage disposal system, so the hospital uses outdoor pit latrines.

I think primitive, like a lot of other things, is relative.

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