Is it Saturday yet?

Yes – it is Saturday.

But Saturday is no rest day in Mungeli. The contingent of Global Ministries leaders spent the night here and we all attended chapel services with the hospital staff and visitors. Chapel is conducted six days a week – Mon-Sat. The staff is free to rest or worship where they like on Sunday.

The service contained welcome and thanks for the visitors to the hospital, singing (some in English, most in Hindi), prayers and a sermon by Rev. Rick Lowery of the Disciples of Christ.

When chapel was over, we had a quick snack and headed over to the Rambo English School. I know, Rambo! But Victor Rambo was a missionary in India during the late 1800s and early 1900s. He established the hospital in Mungeli and the eye clinic that operates to this day at Mungeli Christian Hospital bears his name.

Like work, the kids attend school six days per week. They were busy preparing today for an all school program that will happen Monday afternoon. There was a lot of singing and dancing as they honed their numbers for the show.

As you can see in the galleries posted earlier, all the kids wanted to have their picture taken and then see the digital image. “One picture please?”, was a request I heard dozens of times. I was happy to oblige as the kids are very friendly and personable, working on their English with native-speakers every chance they get. There are always funny moments when cultures/languages cross. Today was no different – we and the children enjoyed lots of laughter in the midst of misunderstanding.

A quick breakfast and back to the school to work on hanging English language educational posters like ABCs and others around the school. I stayed with the Global Ministries team until they left in the ambulance for the ride back to Raipur and their next destination.

Global Ministries leaders load into the ambulance for their ride back to Raipur and on to their next destination.

I joined up with the rest of the Avon Lake team and headed into town with one of the school teachers and Shane who is here with his two daughters and Ph.D. candidate wife who is studying the psychological effects of stillbirth/miscarriage on women in India.

The town of Mungeli is fairly busy. Mostly dirt roads – a few cobbled sections, no stop signs, the occasional horse-drawn wooden-wheel cart, lots of bikes and motorcycles. Walking on the left side of the road is like trying to throw with your non-dominant hand. It takes a little getting used to.

Friday is market day, so the outdoor bazaar was not set up. We stopped into a few shops and talked with the proprietors – Shane seems to have made the rounds and gotten to know many people. He has a quick smile and laugh which puts everyone he meets at ease.

Nate finally found a COLD Pepsi! We stopped for the drinks and snacks and soon had a crowd of 25 people around us. We are certainly a curiosity to people who rarely see outsiders. Of course, we also find many things to be curious in Mungeli.

In addition to clothing sellers, bangle shops and snack stands there are some cool surprises. A silversmith who makes custom jewelry, several cobblers who will make you a custom set of sandals or shoes for around $6.50 (300 rupies), tailors and a whole variety of fine craftspersons. (OK, they seem only to be craftsmen…)

The vibe with the vendors is different here than in many other places I’ve visited. They wait for you to approach them or come into the shop – no hawking, yelling or following you down the street with goods.

After our visit to town, Dave and I were informed we could move out of our temporary quarters to the dormitories. We hauled our stuff over, got a little settled and both collapsed for 2-2.5 hours. For now, we each have our own rooms and bathrooms. As many things are fluid here, we’ll see if that lasts.

Our group had time to chat and share stories/photos following naps. It was good to reconnect before dinner.

As we were finishing dinner someone came to announce that a c-section was happening at the hospital and to ask if anyone wanted to observe.

I arrived late and saw the baby being pulled out, but wasn’t in the OR with my camera yet. No biggie, sounds like I’ll have plenty of opportunities to see another one. The hospital performs lots of C-sections because women only come here as a last resort – when natural childbirth fails.

Dr. Henry describes some of the people in the region as “primitive” or “tribal”. He says this without prejudice for the people, merely trying to explain how they live. Think stone and mud huts, open pit fires and subsistence farming. Many follow tribal religions (not Christian, Hindu or Muslim) which brings an added mistrust of western style medicine. They rely on tribal shaman/healers to take care of their needs. When these methods fail, people come to Mungeli Christian Hospital as it is the best and closest hospital for them.

The good news is that what seemed to be a healthy baby boy was delivered by Dr. Samuel and team. As is often the case, Anil was working late into the night when we went to wish him goodnight and make some plans for next week.

Anil Henry works in his office late in the evening preparing a grant proposal and making travel plans with Kelly Brill.

No agenda for the early morning tomorrow – Sunday. Boarding buses sometime between 9:30 and 11:00am (yes, that really is the time frame), to head to a picnic area with swimming, crocodiles and food with the staff and other visitors.

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