"Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen."
1 Peter 4:10-11 (NIV)

Saturday, April 15-Monday, April 17: Travel to New Day Orphanage and arrival

*The first of day-by-day recap blog posts about PPIHN's Spring 2017 trip to Zambia. Each trip I do these day-by-day posts to give everyone who supports us an in depth look at the trip--to see what amazing things God is doing through PPIHN, to describe what we as team members cannot in just a conversation with you and to be accountable to those who donate to make these trips happen. 

This year's trip was amazing! Including new patients and follow ups, we had 38 prosthetic patients, 22 eye patients, gave out over 200 pairs of eyeglasses and countless toothbrushes and shared the Good News with so many people---all in just 12 working days. 

Our flight left DFW on Saturday, April 15th at 9:55pm. Those traveling on team PPIHN this year were John Brinkley (ocularist), Chris Reiff (prosthetist), Traci Phelps (prosthetist), myself (prosthetist) and Rick Cayton (friend of John's who came to assist the team). Check-in is always a bit of a fiasco with so many bags....17 checked bags this year. And thankfully all the luggage made it through to Zambia. 

These ladies at check-in were so helpful.

All checked in and ready for the long travel ahead. L to R: Rick, Traci, Chris, Katie and John

Blu and Teacher Carolyn picked us up at the airport in Livingstone on Monday, and then almost a 4 hour ride back to New Day Orphanage. We were fortunate to arrive before dark, so we could unload all our bags and take supplies to the clinic. 

The van and trailer with all our luggage.

Arriving at the clinic and an informal look around (while everyone was talking).

We were excited to be back at New Day for another trip. We had planned to use Tuesday morning for set up of the clinic and then have some patients that we had seen in past years to come in the afternoon. 

*Next post: Tuesday, April 18: First day of patients

Tuesday, April 18: First day of patients

Tuesday was supposed to start with clinic set up before patients started arriving, which didn't go exactly as planned. We ended up seeing patients throughout the day and set up in between seeing people. We had 7 prosthetic patients and 1 eye patient on Tuesday. Several people called that they were at the turn off from the paved road, so Protashow went to pick them up. He was busy with transporting people and translating for us. 

John setting up his room.

Chris setting up the work area.

Many of the people who came to the clinic on Tuesday were there for glasses. We take donated prescription glasses and readers with us each trip. This started because many of the people who come to see John just have vision problems and are not missing an eye. We don't do eye exams but just let people try on glasses until they find a pair that they feel helps. 

Killion being casted for a new prosthesis. I saw him my first trip in 2014. His amputation was due to a car accident.

Chris casting Joel for a new prosthesis. He is the man who we made a prosthesis for in 2014, and he didn't come back for fitting. We ended up fitting him with the leg in 2015, and we saw him last year for follow up. His prosthesis is just not fitting well now, so he needed a new one.

Luyando came with her mother. She is 14 yrs old now and nearly as tall as me. We made her a new socket this past September that is still fitting, so she got a new knee, foot, liner and pair of shoes. I love that she smiles now and seems less timid around us. 

Chris casting Luxon for a new prosthesis. Luxon came with his dad to see us. He needs a new prosthesis each time since he's a kid and is growing.

A patient of John's who came for follow up. Her eye is fitting well, so John just needed to polish it.

So beautiful!

Here's Rick working on the door to our bathroom. We were waiting on the water to be turned on to the bathroom and a door before we could use it.

John's patient brought him potatoes as a thank you gift. I'm always amazed when people bring gifts as a thank you. They may not have much but they give so freely out of gratitude. We also got some pumpkins from a patient and a watermelon from someone else. 

We also saw Osia and Hachoompwe for casting for new prostheses on Tuesday. They are both patients we've been seeing each year. And a man named Dennis with weakness in his legs came. He really needed AFOs (ankle-foot braces) but we don't have the ability to make plastic ones without an oven. That was a hard conversation. We did put new tips on his crutches though.

We got started right away on pouring casts with plaster and modifying. Wednesday and Thursday would bring more patients, so we wanted to get as much accomplished as possible on the 5 we casted on Tuesday. 

*Next post: Wednesday, April 19: Patients from Macha

Wednesday, April 19: Patients from Macha

Every trip we have been splitting up the patient days into a "Macha" group and "Choma" group (these are both towns nearby). The patients from the Macha area meet at the radio station in Macha, which has been announcing our arrival for over a week, and the bus from New Day picks them up. This year the radio station interviewed Elizabeth (social worker at New Day) before we arrived about our prosthetic work, so definitely got the word out about what exactly we do. 

We always do the Macha group first since those people are from the more rural areas and therefore generally don't have the means that people from the Choma area have. (Choma is a larger city). We are only there for a short time, so we can only see so many people. This year, we did have to turn some people away due to shortage of time and materials. 

Wednesday morning started with John and Chris riding with Protashow on the bus to Macha to screen patients and bring back those we would be seeing at the clinic. Traci and I stayed behind with the intent to get work done at the clinic on the prostheses that were already in fabrication from Tuesday's patients. We ended up with 3 prosthetic patients at the clinic before the bus came back, plus a little boy with bilateral clubfoot. 

This little boy has clubfoot of both feet, so he can't walk at all. He had surgery on his feet at some point, which we didn't gather at what age. But because he has not been treated with braces since then, the deformity has re-occurred. Both feet were too rigid to be able to fit him with braces for him to walk. Traci and I were talking with his mother through a translator. This was a heartbreaking conversation.

Arnold came with his father for a new prosthesis. Last year he was at school during our trip in September, so I repaired his prosthesis that he left at his village since a piece was broken but I did not get to see Arnold. This year he needed a whole new prosthesis. From our conversation with his family last year about him being in school when he was not in years past, Prosthetic Promises is now helping pay for his school fees to ensure he is able to continue with school each semester. (They are out of school in April. It's a year-round school system in Zambia.)

This is Clyness with her grandfather who came with her. This is another heartbreaking story because we were unable to fit her with a prosthesis due to a large wound on the bottom of her leg that will most likely require a revision to a higher amputation length. She has a Symes amputation (at the ankle, so just the foot is amputated). Symes is a good amputation length because neither leg bone is cut so the patient can put weight on the bottom of the leg. She has been walking around, seemingly since a very young age, without any protection on the bottom of her leg. On Wednesday when she came, we couldn't tell much because of a lot of black substance in and around the wound, which her grandfather said was "African medicine" so we had no idea what exactly it was. We cleaned the wound and sent her with supplies to continue wound care with careful instructions, but when she came back we could tell just how bad the wound was. We emphasized many, many times to her grandfather that she needs to see a doctor and have another surgery. Please join us in prayer for this young lady, that her grandfather will seek the medical treatment she needs and for her health. We hope to see in her the future and be able to make her a prosthesis once she is well healed. 

Melvin also came Wednesday morning. He is a patient we have seen since 2014. His prosthesis was fitting well, so he just needed a new cloth portion, called a 'sail', made for his socket and new supplies. We told him to come back Monday for the sail and supplies. 

Meanwhile, at the Macha radio station John and Chris were screening all the people who had come with Protashow translating. 

There were a lot of people waiting at the radio station!

After they had talked with everyone and determined who would be coming back to the clinic, they loaded up and headed back to New Day. The bus arrived with John, Chris, Protashow, 9 prosthetic patients and 11 eye patients. 

One of John's eye patients. John had 11 patients on Wednesday---8 new people and 3 for follow-up and polishing. 

Cambree was John's assistant for patient days. She translated and took notes for him. I see a health care career in her future. :)

This is Elias. John took an impression for a prosthetic eye for him. 

This is Alfred. He lost his eye due to a sling shot injury.


...After. This man had a prosthetic eye that just needed to be cleaned and polished. 

This is Kennedy. He lost his eye due to an injury with a stick. 

Traci casting Rose for her first prosthesis. Her amputation was actually earlier this year due to diabetes. This a rare instance where someone didn't have to wait a long time between their amputation and when they were fit with a prosthesis. 

Patients waiting on the clinic porch.

More people waiting.

The ladies cooking lunch for the patients. Since people have to wait for hours because it takes so long for us to see everyone, they are fed lunch of nshima (ground maize dish), cabbage and beans.

This is Arief (holding his lunch--the white mashed potato looking food is nshima) who came for fitting of his thumb prosthesis this year. Suzanne casted him last year and made the prosthesis back in the States. We had gotten his phone number and called him to come for fitting this year. The thumb prosthesis fits sort of like a glove with strap to tighten it. The rigid prosthetic thumb will give him the ability to grasp objects in his left hand now.

Here's Protashow evaluating little Blessford for correct height. Blessford had a straight leg prosthesis from the capital city of Lusaka (over 250 km away), but it's too short since he has grown. The prosthesis was lengthened, and we will bring a pediatric size knee for him next year to make a new prosthesis that has a bending knee.

Chris modifying Blessford's prosthesis.

This is Ackim, who has fibular hemimelia and has an extension prosthesis from a clinic in Monze. The prosthesis was modified for his growth and new straps were put on. We also gave him a pair of new shoes.

We also saw David, Gift and Lucy for casting, who are new amputees getting their first prosthesis. Jessica, Mweetwa, Musanda and Rhoda came again this year for follow-up. They needed adjustments, a few new parts and new supplies. Rhoda is the little girl with clubfoot that we made a bent knee prosthesis for last year. We had brought a foot specifically for her size this year. And we had some new shoes for her. The children's shoes donated by Mrs. Reaves' 2nd grade class in Sanger, TX were a huge help with the pediatric patients we had on Wednesday.

Wednesday was a busy day with 14 prosthetic patients total and 11 eye patients. We were looking ahead to another full patient day on Thursday with patients from Choma. 

*Next post: Thursday, April 20: Patients from Choma

Thursday, April 20: Patients from Choma

Again Thursday we split up, with John and Chris riding in the bus with Protashow to go to Choma to screen patients and bring back who we would see. Traci and I stayed at the clinic to work on fabrication of the prostheses we had already casted for during the past two days. 

Arriving at the Disabilities Office in Choma to screen patients. All the patients met at the Disabilities Office in Choma Thursday morning. John and Chris saw each person there to determine if we were able to help them. Many of the people who come to see John are not candidates for fitting with a prosthetic eye. And Chris had to determine how many people we could see. We did have to turn away some people for prostheses this year because of lack of time and materials. 

Everyone lined up and seen one at a time by Chris and John for evaluation.

Chris and John saw people in this small office area. "Overwhelming" was the impression I got from their description of how the morning went. So many people there at Choma waiting and knowing how many we had already casted at the clinic the past two days, they were faced with deciding who we would see and who would have to be turned away this year. 

Loading up in the bus to head back to New Day to the clinic.

Everyone waiting on the porch of the clinic when they arrived.

The lady in the front of the picture with the orange skirt is Hildah. She works at the Disabilities Office in Choma and helps coordinate patients for us to see each trip. 

Patients eating lunch while waiting on the porch of the clinic. The same ladies who cooked for the group of patients on Wednesday came and cooked lunch of nshima, beans and cabbage for patients on Thursday as well.

Waiting and eating lunch.

Rick became crutches repairman extraordinaire. Many of the patients who came had crutches needing repair or new crutch tips. It was great that Rick could spend time repairing crutches while we were seeing patients for evaluation and castings. We did not have new crutches for people this year since the shipping container has not arrived yet. Next trip, there will be lots of donated crutches that we will be able to give to people if their's are in disrepair. 

A great picture of John and Mivet. Mivet is 8 years-old and lost his eye to an injury from a stick. John saw him in September 2016 for the first time and made his eye then. This year, he just needed a check-up and cleaning of the prosthetic eye. 

John has an opportunity to talk more in depth with his patients due to the time it takes to take impressions and fit them with their prosthetic eye. Last year when John first saw Mivet, John also took impressions of Mivet's father for partial teeth. He made the teeth back in the States and brought them to fit this year, which fit great! What an awesome opportunity to help both Mivet and his father! God has blessed John with such amazing talents.

A lady who Traci casted for a prosthesis. Her daughter carried her off the bus, into the clinic and back out. 

Protashow getting instruction from Chris on repairing a prosthesis.

Thursday we saw 16 prosthetic patients---12 of those were casted for new prostheses, 3 people were for repairs and new supplies, and 1 lady was not a candidate for a prosthesis. John saw 9 new patients for prosthetic eyes and 1 check-up (Mivet). Chris had also seen 6 people in Choma that just needed new supplies, so she gathered those and sent them back with Protashow on the bus to give to these people when he drove all the patients back to Choma.

Traci getting casts ready to fill with plaster after the patients had left.

Traci and I modifying plaster models. By the end of the day we had 9 plaster models ready for lamination, which is the next step in the process of making a prosthesis. We would get started with laminations first thing Friday morning.

Walking back to The Ark (guesthouse) after our work day was complete.

A beautiful sunset in Zambia. I always love my time in Zambia. Yes...we are working longer, harder days than what we do at our jobs back home, but it is so rewarding to "be spent by God's work" as Chris puts it. 

Next post: Friday, April 21- Sunday, April 23: Fabrication days and another patient