The Liwolo Clinic has finally been declared open. The Bishop’s party which included Diocesan staff, their families, the Cress team as well as college students and others, arrived in a convoy of jeeps which was accompanied for about 2 km by a crowd of well wishers dancing and singing and waving flags, branches and any other thing they could wave. Drums, whistles, rattles and ululating resonated far and wide. Hundreds of people had already gathered around the clinic,waiting on chairs under sun shades constructed from tarpaulin and bamboo and crowds thronged around us as we joined them. Maggie found herself enveloped in the arms of the clinic staff she had met for just one day earlier in the week, in fact everyone found they had many friends there. Meeting new friends has been a feature of this week – so many wonderful people, so generous with their affection and all asking for their greetings to be shared with you.
We were ushered to chairs and the proposed programme was outlined by the ‘ MC’ – it took about 15 mins to go through what was going to happen, ending with the classic statement ‘…so it will be a short programme’! Everyone roared with laughter as it was clear that we would be ‘ entertained’ for at least four hours. And so it transpired, however, not in a way that had been predicted. All went well at first, as the thanks and welcomes were started by the Archdeacon, Joel, and followed by a senior elder from the village who admitted that he did not get the chance to speak in public often so he would make the most of it and say a bit more!
In due course it was time to walk over to the building for the Grand Opening. Caroline was handed a pair of surgical scissors to cut the bandage ‘ribbon’ and the Bishop vigorously blessed the building and its work, expressing his hope that it would look to the holistic needs of the patients, improving health and also looking to their spiritual needs. There followed an opportunity to see the clinic.
The clinic looked amazing. The staff had worked incredibly hard to show off their facilities and the things we had brought over from UK that week were combined with those locally acquired to reassure officials and locals alike that they would be offered the best service possible. There are a host of important things on the ‘shopping list’, many are critical and on order, and many will need to be sourced soon.
However, there are beds, cots ,drip stands, assessment tools, couch and even a labour ward bed. It is a clean, suitable environment, staffed by competent and caring nurses. It is truly wonderful what these dedicated people have achieved in a few months.
Having been shown round the clinic the speeches began again but first a drama illustrating the difference to a sick child access to the clinic will make.
And then the ‘Blessing’ began.
It rained, and rained, and rained – long and hard and soaking – last seen in Liwolo many months ago. Rain is really seen as a blessing here and the laughter and delight that accompanied the deluge was testament to that. The cooks were perturbed that some of their fires went out but more wood hurriedly collected ensured that over 400 were fed. Our meal was delayed however by a series of long political speeches. The polite patience of the Africans was salutary, we have a lot to learn from our hosts. The food all produced locally and cooked behind some mango trees by an army of women. Cress provided a bull and Caroline’s nephew had provided the money for the feast by a terrific sponsored cycle ride. The party went on apparently till late at night.
The journey home was also eventful but we will write about that later as you will be anxious to hear from us after all this build up!