It was our pleasure to host in Katondwe, for two weeks, our friends from Łódź: Doctor Filip Styrzyński and seminarist Kamil Bielicki. Out time spent together was full of warm kindness and very positive emotions.
For Doctor Filip Styrzyński, it was yet another visit at the Katondwe Mission Hospital. He posted on social media his observations about the changes that occurred in our hospital since his last stay.
We share the excerpts (with his permission):
Some time ago (almost 6 years!), thanks to various favourable circumstances, I was lucky to find myself in a special place – a missionary facility run in Zambia by Polish Servant Sisters. (…) After 3 years since my last visit, I went to Katondwe again. (…) For everyone, the last years and months were full of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. Still, life had to go on, as the daily challenges did not disappear and there was no relief from that. However, the hospital has undergone enormous changes, which I want to tell you about.
The first, and probably most important change – after the long waiting years of sacrifices, Katondwe was connected to the national power grid! Among other things, this allowed the hospital to reduce the maintenance costs of the power generator (previously it was approx. $1,500 a month) and has greatly improved the standard of care and work comfort. For example, patients no longer need to wait overnight for an X-ray exam, equipment may be sterilised on an ongoing basis, and the hospital may use more electronic devices, e.g. in the neonatal care unit. And the trivial things – boiling water in a kettle or heating a bath are no longer limited only to 3 hours a day. Of course, not everything works perfectly (temporary power cuts, power grid overloads, typical failures) – but it is a huge change anyway!
Personnel figures have also increased. It is associated with the improvement of accommodation facilities for newly recruited employees. Moreover, the Zambian government introduced a kind of health insurance, which refunds the hospital part of the cost of the health services rendered. All this makes it easier for the Sisters to plan further outlays and investments. However, the inflation and the dramatically rising costs of living remain a challenge. In addition, the availability of modern medicines is still significantly limited (due to unavailability or prohibitive prices).
Sister Edyta is still improving her skills in using an ultrasound device, which is utilised to the fullest. (…) It is not only about the basic ultrasound but also (and perhaps above all) gynaecological and obstetric examination and foetal echocardiography scan. (…) Under normal conditions, these exams are unavailable for most Zambians.
Thanks to the huge support of very special people, Sister Miroslawa managed to modernise her "kingdom" – two operating theatres, with installed professional lighting and an operating table. In addition, she uses specialised equipment to provide patients with advanced bone connections on an ongoing basis, which has become a sort of a hobby for Sister Mira. Without your help, it would not have been possible!
The scope of hospital activity is expanding steadily. Beside many childbirths (both natural and by c-sections), help for the victims of road accidents or animal bites, and care and access to medicines for patients with HIV, the Luangwa population gained access to a dental clinic and physiotherapy. Another great success was creating an intensive care unit with a proper bed, defibrillator, suction machine and oxygen concentrator. Everything requires a lot of time, effort and money, but with such motivated people as the Sisters, we manage to complete our undertakings (although not always at our desired pace).
The present biggest concern – unresolved despite many efforts – is the X-ray machine. The stationary X-ray machine from the 1950s has been broken for many years and cannot be repaired. The decades-old mobile X-ray machine still works, but it is definitely on its last legs. The quality of the X-ray photos – to say the least – leaves much to be desired. The hospital and personnel performing their mission with such commitment deserve to have decent radiology equipment for their patients. There are plans, dreams and projects undertaken to achieve this aim... but we will see.
(…) The kindergarten run by the Sisters has also undergone a proper renovation, and their primary and secondary school for girls is still considered one of the best schools in Zambia (allowing its graduates to get into their dream university studies).
To sum up, those were good two weeks. The place allowed us to recharge the batteries with positivity and a sense of meaning. What’s more we managed to Kamil, whose company made this time even better."
Thank you very much for describing our work and achievements in such a beautiful way!