Namwianga, Zambia

brittany lattimer ZMM 

The Zambia Medical Mission is an annual event that has been taking place since the 1990’s.  Every year Americans and Zambians come together to host clinics in four different villages in the southern province of Zambia.  This year those clinics were held in Simalundu, Kapaulu, Nazibbula, and Mabuyu over six days.  Back in the ‘90s it began as a much smaller operation but has blossomed over the years to now include about ninety-six Americans and over one hundred Zambians.  Everyone that participated, which included doctors, nurses, dentists, etc. who took time off from their jobs to volunteer to help serve others.  It was amazing to be surrounded by so many optimistic people willing to serve God and the people of Zambia.

It was quite an amazing thing to be a part of and to be able to witness this event from a first hand perspective.  Let me briefly describe how the medical mission is set up.  A line begins to form early in the morning before the clinic opens around 8 am and will remain until around 5 when the clinic closes.  There are nurses that will triage the patients and determine which station they need to go to.  The different stations included wound care, lab, eye care, dental, spiritual, children’s ministry, and medical.  Over the course of six clinic days almost 20,000 people were seen, over 501 clean delivery kits distributed, 96 people baptized, over 50 cataract surgeries performed, over 50 wheelchairs given away, and 2 babies born.

I was lucky enough to be able to witness one of the births.  Let me say first and foremost how resilient and strong the Zambian women are.  The baby was breeched and although she did not receive one drop of anesthesia she did not scream even once during what I know had to be a grueling labor.  It was amazing to be able to witness a human being coming into the world.  It’s not often that you get to do that.  Unlike many women in such remote areas, she was able to be assisted by a doctor, nurse, and a midwife. 

Many women are not so lucky to be able to receive the assistance of doctors, nurses, or even midwives.  That is where the clean delivery kits come into play.  These kits contain a candle, matches, a razor blade to cut the umbilical cord, a string to tie the umbilical cord, a plastic sheet to provide a clean delivery surface, a blanket, and an outfit for the baby.  According to an organization called Path, over 1,600 women die per day from childbirth complications and over 950,000 newborns die per year from infections.  That’s why it great that we were able to distribute 501 clean delivery kits, because they help to reduce these numbers.  Unfortunately we ran out, but it will make a huge difference to the 501 women who received them.  It was great to be able to participate in such a huge operation and it was remarkable to see so many people in one place.  I really hope that I can participate in this again in the future.