Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Out of Reach

The Highlands of Papua New Guinea is not a place set up for folks who are handicapped or disabled. The roads are mostly made up of dirt, mud and potholes.  There are no handicapped accessible roads or ramps to allow those who need a wheelchair to get around.  Most folks who require a wheelchair are dependent on others - their siblings, their parents, their spouse or a friend to help them survive.    They help them get around, help them go out to use the facilities, help to do the work around the house, help do the gardening, help cook food, help earn money, etc.  Without the others, life is very difficult and what maybe normal to everyone else is out of reach to them.

It isn't just handicapped or disabled people who need an "other" - we all do.  We all need someone to help support us (physically, spiritually or emotionally), and when we are sick, we often rely on the "other" even more.  Our hospital is set up so each patient has a watchman - someone to help feed them, help them get out to the facilities, help to encourage them, keep their spirits up, etc.  Almost everyone comes with a watchman, but occasionally folks don't have one.

Anna doesn't usually have a watchman.  She is 12 years old and has been paralyzed for a number of years now, after being shot in her spine during a tribal fight.  She has been in the hospital for months now due to bedsores from not being turned when she was home.  We have been doing debridements and dressing changes for months and her wounds are getting smaller, but she isn't ready to go home just yet.

More than anyone, Anna needs a watchman.  She needs someone to help her get around, to help her get food, to help her get out of bed, to help her get to the facilities, to help her get to school, and more importantly to help her know that her life matters and that she is loved, despite being paralyzed.  The cement around our hospital only let's Anna go so far in her wheelchair.  She has become very adept at transferring herself from her bed to her wheelchair and back again, as well as pushing herself around in her wheelchair.  I have seen her too many times sitting in her wheelchair looking out at the world beyond her reach, and my heart has broken.

Broken for the future that is beyond her reach here in PNG, knowing that in another place she would be going to school and have something to look forward to despite the the confines of the wheelchair.  She would be able to become a lawyer or teacher or doctor or anything she wants.  She would be able to be independent, could get around without needing someone to push her over the rough uneven roads here in PNG. 

Pray for Anna, pray for her to know the love of her Heavenly Father and the love that all at the hospital have shown her.  Pray also for us to know what/how to help.  Some of the missionaries have been helping her to learn to read, and we have given her some little jobs to do to make some money, but we are a hospital, not a home.  We care for those who are sick and then we release them to the world outside to continue to care for them.  Despite the needs that we see everyday, we can't  be everyone's long term home.  But is there a way for us to help Anna now, or to help others like her, pray that we may know what that might look like, if it looks like anything.