When A Crisis Must Take A Backseat To Need
During my visit over the Orthodox Easter, I told Vasile Batcu that the children would need to be out of Aschiuta Home and in Summer Camp by the 10th of June, in anticipation of the arrival of volunteers, as well as the funds to renovate the children’s bathrooms.
If you read one of my other blogs, ‘Anglicans,’ you will be aware that not only did the volunteers not arrive, the funds to pay for the supplies and local labour failed to materialise as well. We did receive two contributions: one in the amount of USD$850.00 and a subsequent contribution of USD$250.00. There were never any volunteers organised, there was no fund drive at one of the churches. It was an awful situation that affected so many and I only had myself to blame for not following the most basic of due diligence.
With a budgeted cost of circa GBP£4000, or USD$6900.00, we are left in an absolutely dreadful situation. The bathrooms are simply unusable. And with up to thirty-four children in the home at any given time, plus house parents and volunteers, even the absence of one of the two toilets can create a crisis.
I received a joint telephone call this morning from Vasile and Inna, asking me to advise them what we should do. My best guess was that the funds we’ve received will have to go towards some of the camp costs, as the children are already there and utilising the services. However, it doesn’t address what we’re going to do when they return.
It has been an emotionally challenging week. The sadness of the child’s funeral at the end of the week overwhelmed many. Plus my friend Sarah slowly moves in and out of a coma now. I still talk to Sarah, as I know she can hear me, but the lines on her face deepen as the cancer spreads.
As I was leaving the ward yesterday another patient called out to me. Her name is Mrs Pearce. I had not met her before. She was wild eyed and frightened. I had heard her, as I sat with Sarah, calling out to no one in particular, that she wanted to go ‘home.’ Although the ward they're in is not generally for the terminally ill, it just happens that Mrs Pearce is suffering from cancer as well.
Mrs Pearce asked me to stay with her for a bit. She said she was afraid and she wanted to go home. I held her hand and stroked her forehead. I asked simple questions: how many children did she have, grandchildren, where she was born – all truthfully intended to help her mentally escape from her present surroundings.
I promised that I’d bring her some fresh strawberries tomorrow. I’ll need to purée them as she's unable to manage any solids. But I suspect she still may have difficulty in eating them.
It had been my hope that the children and I would escape for our own ‘Star Picnic,’ on Saturday night. I needed a bit of a diversion from the challenges of the week. It wasn’t to be.
As I stood at the nursing station, disinfecting my hands with Isopropyl, one of the ward nurses came up to me. I’ve known her for several years. In fact, I celebrated her mother’s funeral sometime last year. ‘Father, would you mind if we had a word?’ she asked with a sense of urgency in her eyes. ‘Of course,’ I smiled.
As I followed her into the small office I thought she was going to tell me that Sarah would most likely not live more than a day or two. I had already thought this myself, so my heart was prepared and I had imagined how nice it would be for her finally to be free of her pain.
The nurse sat down with me. I glanced over at her desk and saw the photos of her two children; Laura is three and Michael is five. ‘Father, I thought you should know, I’ve just been diagnosed with bowel cancer.’ She said it matter-of-factly.
‘I’m so saddened to hear this,’ I began. ‘Let’s take a break now and talk about it.’