A Day at the National TB Hospital- Bobby Ramjist

Bobby Ramjist is a member of the Heart for Africa (Canada) Board.  This article is from his recent trip to Swaziland with the September 2013 construction trip.

Today we are going to visit the National TB hospital to see Nomsa. The last time Jimmy was here he felt compelled to pray for another lady in the ward. He was advised that she had been pregnant and that the baby was dead still inside her. She placed Jimmy’s hands on her stomach and while he was praying the baby kicked. He was surprised as was the woman. They called the nurse who came over to see about the commotion. They told her that the baby was alive! Condescendingly, she said that the baby was dead and had been for two weeks. They convinced her to feel the baby and she was as surprised as Jimmy and the woman. The woman was allowed to be taken to the Women’s and Children’s Hospital to have a Caesarian section. This is the first and only time that someone from the TB hospital has been allowed to leave and go to another hospital to give birth in the history of Swaziland. The baby was born and her mother named her Surprise. But this is a different day….

It is overcast and grey. Raining as if the sky was weeping for the residences of this facility. Jimmy had asked who wanted to go in, as we would only be able to send four people. I felt God’s nudge to go. I prayed to God and said that I would go, but Jimmy would have to tell me. (A little confirmation can never hurt!) I was thinking of something along the lines of, “On behalf of the Canadian board, I think you should go” would be a good start. As we sat quietly looking at this facility from beyond the fence waiting for Janine, Jimmy turns and says, “Bobby, as a member of the Canadian board, I think you should go.” Can’t get much clearer than that!

As we drove inside the fence and passed the guard, who was quite happy to let us in, I noticed how deserted it seemed. For a hospital there did not seem to be anyone around. We pulled around past the buildings….X-Ray, Mortuary, Administration, Men’s Ward and finally Lady’s Ward. As we pulled up, we finally saw people. There were three people standing in the doorway and three ladies looking down at us from an upper window. Janine opened the sliding door and announced, “Welcome to Hell!” What was I walking into?

Janine handed us masks. Mark Diamond, Pastor Mark Anderson, Jamie Klee, Janine and myself all headed into the hospital. As we entered through the door the hallways were reminiscent of an old school or moreover the old creepy hospitals that you see on television shows. The smell was overpowering even though we were wearing masks. The scent was pungent not like cleaner, more like something rotting. We made our way upstairs to Nomsa’s ward, women’s ward two. As we entered the large room there were four beds on the left and two on the right. Beyond the four on the left was a half wall dividing the room in two with four more beds on the other side. In the bed immediately on the left was a person with the covers pulled up over their head. My immediate thought was that she was dead and they had simply left her there. Several other ladies were bundled in the same way and I can’t say with certainty that they were all alive.

We walked a little further and came to a room on our right. The sign read, “Strictly Isolation! No Entry!” Janine led us in anyway. Nomsa was curled up in a ball on the first bed. She was non-responsive as Janine spoke to her. I looked up and out through the window in the door we had just come through. In the corner was a bed and pulled close was a crib, which was obviously being used. Who the heck would bring their child to this place? Someone who has absolutely no alternative. Janine tried to talk to Nomsa a little more but with very little response.

Leaving Nomsa’s room we went directly to the nurse’s station to find out what her status was. Why is she delusional, chilled and shivering with her legs unable to move? We were told that this is the beginning of the end.  We spoke to a number of nurses. There did not seem to be ANY doctors around that could answer any of our questions. I wished that my nephew Josh (the doctor) was there, or at least that I could talk to him.

We asked them if she could be brought out so that we could speak with her. They told us to wait in a common room. We looked out the windows and could see the team below in the combi. We were told to sit by the window and let the breeze be at our backs and then flow onto her. We waited. I looked down a long hallway. There was no movement. No one! This place was so big and SO desolate! The nurse returned and advised that Nomsa was unable to move. Janine asked if we could go in and pray over her. The nurse said even with a mask she wouldn’t go. Janine looked at us knowing she could not force anyone of us. We were all of one accord on this and marched straight back in. We laid hands on her and prayed for healing and also for release from the demon, which had overtaken her. As we were leaving, the lady in the next bed asked for prayer. We laid hands on her as well.

We left Nomsa with Janine’s promise to return. We made our way to women’s ward one. As we entered Janine saw a familiar face, a twelve-year-old girl. This girl had been at the TB hospital previously, but had received a double negative test, which meant that she could be released. The only person she could call was Janine, not Mom or Dad or family, presumably they are all dead. Janine could not come that day to collect her and truthfully this was the hospital’s responsibility.

The hospital finally contacted her church and they had made arrangements for her to live with a member of their congregation. Apparently there was some kind of altercation between the kids. One girl pushed the other and the other pushed back. That was it; this little girl who had no one, was told she was no longer welcome and driven back and left at the gate of the TB hospital. Understand that this girl lives at the TB hospital because she has NO WHERE ELSE TO LIVE! She is negative for contagion of TB. But here she sits. Janine is visibly disturbed and will not stand for this.

We go further along to see if Janine knows anyone else.  I look out the windows across the brown grass field towards the city. This place seems almost forgotten or cast away. People cast away as garbage with no one to talk to them….”their basic pride and dignity is stripped and torn and shown no pity…”to quote the Queen song. This room is cold and must be dark at night. My mind rolls to nighttime where this place would be lonely and terrifying. There is no hope in this place, no joy of any sort. Glimpses of joy are very few and very far between. No beauty. There are no flowers or cards as you might typically see in first world hospitals. These people appear to be just left here to eventually die. The walls are light blue and desperately in need of repairs in certain places. Plaster is peeling and there is a cold concrete floor.

We are leaving….We make our way to the outside hall….there is an alcove and a doorway with a window on the left. The doors are blocked. I look through the glass and see some stairs leading down into what appears to be a large common area. Again it is completely devoid of people or activity. As we were leaving, Mark Diamond noticed a woman motioning him back in. He said to hang on and went back in. Next thing I know we are all going back in. This lady told Mark that “Miss Janine knows her”, and points to another lady in the opposite corner. We approach this woman whose face is turned away from us and to the wall. This is Surprise’s mother! She is still alive! She complains to Janine about pain in her abdomen. Her C-section scar is clearly infected. She gave birth almost a month ago! We pray over her and tell her that her daughter is well. This is difficult, as the TB has made her nearly deaf. Janine promises to come back with a picture of the baby. We are done here and we make our way out. Outside we find Jimmy speaking to one of the nurses and we advise him that the mom is in terrible pain because her C-section is infected. He tells us that some pain is to be expected after a C-section. We kindly and sternly point out not after a month; that’s not normal.

We saddle up in the combi and everyone wants to know what we have seen….Where to start???

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