So as you may have heard by now, we held our national medical screening this week here in Lome, Togo. These screenings are usually done only once per field service, and are where we hope to fill our surgical schedules for the time spent in each country. In this screening we were looking for cleft lips and pallets, facial tumors, burn contractures, and noma along with some general surgeries.
I was selected to be a team leader for the overnight advance security team. We left the ship at 2PM on the 31st and stayed overnight to ensure that things got started on the right foot the next day. I didn’t leave the stadium until about 9:30am the following morning.
For those of you on my newsletter, none of this is a surprise, and thank you for your prayers. We had such a successful night that the following day was boring for the main body of the security team. That’s about as good of a mark of success as you can hope to hit.
My French was a good help in liaising with the police we had on site. They actually showed up the night before, and even though they didn’t fulfill many other promises they were much more helpful than our previous experience in Sierra Leone. We only had about 170 potential patients show up the day before, which is a major contrast to the roughly 800 we had at our second screening in Freetown. We were a bit worried that night that we wouldn’t have enough show up to fill our schedules, but by 4am they started to trickle in and by 5am we were over 1,000 people. All in all we had nearly 4,000 people show up.
That number would be larger if the ship hadn’t just been here in 2010. The line we had stretched far beyond the stadium and into an adjacent field. In the end it was delightfully uneventful, allowing our Security Officer, the other team leader, and I to pack up and leave. We chalked it up to our inflated sense of self-importance, but we didn’t want to leave before we were sure things were going to go smoothly. Having experienced the events at the first screening day in Freetown, Peter and I in particular didn’t want to move on before we knew everything would be alright.
But of course, everything was perfectly fine. God has been good, and we can’t wait to see how the surgeries here in Togo go!