The Words of the Young Family
Left to right: Birgitt Fackiner, the main hospital director, Arlette Beatteay, and four hospital assistants receive medical equipment and medicines donated by IRFF.
There are many different Africas. Our images of lush jungle environments or harsh Sahara deserts often cause us to forget the harsh realities of the land and its people. Yet, the truth of human suffering in Africa remains in our minds like a photograph -- unforgettable and bitter. Now the attention of the world has brought new hope to this tortured continent. In the past year, IRFF's mobile medical service has traveled to many African nations, trying to heal the wounds of poverty. The work of IRFF in the Ivory Coast is a prime example of its dedication to caring for the human family.
During 1985, IRFF developed a comprehensive program of medical services for the people in Bouake, a largely rural area in the very heart of the Ivory Coast. To initiate our campaign, the IRFF headquarters staff in New York organized a container shipment of medical supplies to be sent as a donation to the government's Ministry of Health. These necessary medicines were received with great appreciation and were distributed throughout the country by the Institute of Hygiene.
Upon this foundation of the first stage of the program, the team coordinator, Ruth Robinson, introduced IRFF to the Minister of Health and was able to pave the way for our medical team to go out into the countryside and begin the more serious process of village-to-village medical treatment.
With the permission and guidance of the Institute, the IRFF team of three nurses -- Ruth Robinson, Arlette Beateay, and Birgitt Fackiner -- decided that they could offer vaccinations and general health care education. Selecting a region in the central bush land country near the Sahelian zone, the nurses began visiting the 53 villages that had been given over to their care.
In many of these remote places, medical service is very rare, so the presence of the medical team created quite a commotion. Using local school buildings as infirmaries, parents would come from many miles around to have their children examined and immunized against diseases.
As their work progressed through the autumn, the rainy season came upon them; but they continued to work until travel between villages became impossible. But this did not dampen the spirit of the mission or the future plans of the project.
This year, IRFF will continue its mobile medical service in the Ivory Coast as well as in Senegal, Zambia, and the Philippines.
Ruth Robinson vaccinates a child against yellow fever.
Since we are without a car, we walk two to three miles every day to our bush village. We must leave very early to arrive by 8 a.m. and meet the medical group from the main hospital. We introduce ourselves and our project to the village chief, who then gathers his people from the village and finds a translator.
Three of us nurses have been vaccinating against the six most common childhood illnesses: tuberculosis, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, poliomyelitis, measles, and yellow fever. If we have time we also vaccinate the adults with yellow fever shots. A child who has received all these vaccinations is considered "well vaccinated" according to the standard of WHO (World Health Organization). In this past month we have vaccinated between 100-700 children per day -- a total of 5,645 in four weeks.
The village mothers provide us with lunch every day and I am always very thankful for their hospitality. Depending on the size of the villages, we come home between 4 and 7 p.m., which is quite late, because in the evening there is also much administrative work to do. We have to report to our main hospital on the day's activity and results, sterilize all our equipment, and prepare for the next day. Working six days per week like this is a very heavy schedule, and the team gets quite exhausted. But we will keep the plan to visit two villages a day.
Even though this schedule is tiring, the work is very fulfilling and in my heart I feel that somehow I can ease our Heavenly Father's suffering heart by helping His children. In doing this social action work, I have the opportunity to take care of the spirit and body of man, testifying to God's and True Parents' love, and this never ceases to bring joy to my heart.