How to deliver a baby…in Congo

God gave me a great blessing upon returning to Congo. My dear friends, Drs. Justin & Aline Danga, gave birth to their first child, Jeremiah.

I first met Justin and Aline when I went to the hospital for Malaria testing. Since that day, they have quickly become close friends. At just 35 years old, Dr. Justin is the director of Nyankunde Evangelical Medical Center. His wife, Dr. Aline, is second in command and one of the only other full-time, licensed doctors at the hospital. Medical students in residency are on rotation but frequently Justin is on-call 24/7. This presents a problem when more than one patient requires surgery at the same time. As is the case of Dr. Aline’s delivery.

After having determined that she would require an emergency c-section to deliver her baby, Dr. Aline learned that her husband was unable to perform the surgery. Fully aware of her situation, she called for the only (semi)qualified assistance available to perform the surgery: a nurse. Aline herself walked the nurse through the entire operation, step by step, to ensure the successful birth of her unborn child…seriously!

congo baby gift

The baby sweater I knit, a small gift for Aline and her new baby.

The very next day, I went to visit Aline and her new baby, Jeremiah, in the hospital. Because of her status within the hospital, she is given her own personal room; fortunate not to be relegated to the postpartum ward alongside twenty other women. Her room is small and cramped. There is but a small table next to a wooden bed above which an old mosquito net hangs. No chairs. No sink or toilet. No medical equipment. No bassinet. No window. No flowers. This sullen environment must cause boredom and loneliness.

Aline assures me that she is not lonely here; there is a constant stream of women and children coming to visit. (Males, in general, are not allowed to see a new mother and baby until she is discharged from the hospital. Good thing Dr. Justin is medical director and head physician here!)

Most of her visitors remain by her side for several hours at a time. Evidence of these visitors: One live chicken clucking in the corner of her room. Several pineapples resting against a wall. Folded on the bed, a few handmade baby blankets. A casserole dish, hot water thermos, and lemon peels sit on the table beside her bed. Needless to say, I was relieved that I didn’t arrive empty-handed.

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