|The main hospital gate (viewed from inside the compound looking out on the busy main road outside)|
Reunion is undoubtedly the best part of our year! Last year, I'd just arrived in country a week before, I didn't understand any Hausa, and I didn't really know what was going on--this year, I could follow along with the program and I knew many of the patients that came to celebrate!
Reunion is three-day event, Thursday through Saturday, but women start coming a week or so in advance! That meant that our Tuesday clinic this past week was insanely busy with 68 women (usually, it's 20-30), so we had to split clinic into two 6-hour days!
It was fun to come through the main hospital gate each morning and greet the women sitting on the steps outside the VVF center. They spend most of their day chatting, re-doing each others' intricate hair braiding, and relaxing.
|When I asked what they were doing, I heard, "washing the meat." I didn't bother to ask any more! Then the meat was liberally seasoned with sliced onions, ground red pepper, and seasoning cubes (mostly salt and MSG)|
|These women spent several hours peeling the large yams with sharp knives, then slicing them into chunks for boiling. Later, the yam was pounded to make a starchy dish eaten with spicy red stew.|
|Here, the kitchen staff are cooking up huge pots of red stew to serve with the pounded yam. One missionary refers to these large cooking vessels as "cannibal pots"... they certainly are big enough for that!|
|The woman in the center is Esther, or as we call her, "Mama VVF." She keeps an eye on all the women staying in the hostel and helps run some of the skills-training programs.|
But Saturday is really the big day!
|The women cueing up for breakfast!|
|Even the little-est ones can't help but dance!|
|Even my colleague Grace got up to dance!|
Later on in the program, four women told their stories. They were all fairly similar--in childbirth for 3+ days, eventually taken to a local hospital where the baby was pronounced dead/had a cesarean to remove the dead baby, started leaking urine within a month or so, finally found their way here (2 months to 35 years later), and at least one surgery before they were finally dry.
Once again, one of our youngest attendees couldn't keep from dancing as music played between each woman's testimony.
We had a special presentation of several manual sewing machines, sewing tables, and knitting machines donated by a group of students in the UK partnering with a Nigerian PhD student who is writing her dissertation on our VVF women. These women had gracefully shared their stories with this student and also been designated as women in need who could benefit from these machines.
After a few more speeches by hospital administration and donors, we ended the celebration with more dancing.
And then I was snagged into tons of photos with various women. Out came flip cell phones as each woman wanted to take photos with the baturia (white woman)!
Then we got this selfie of us three SIM missionaries who serve here at Evangel VVF Center. Those smiles were certainly not forced--we'd had a wonderful celebration!