"We weren't very far into the operating schedule for the day when the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF or Doctors Without Borders) administrative doctor called up from the refugee camp to warn us that they were sending in several who had been wounded by elephants. Dear God, elephants? Did it have to be elephants? Even the plagues started with, like, flies, and frogs. Did we need to jump right to elephants? But elephants it was, crushing some huts and bundling people about. None killed, fortunately, but a stepped-on broken leg and a large-eyed four-year-old with an open chest wound, possibly elephant-kicked (if such is an entity.)
“So they got added on to the day's OR list. As did other orthopedic injuries that kept getting dropped off here from road and village accidents. We worked straight through dinner until 10 p.m. Everyone was exhausted, the OR crew especially. Nearly every sterile tray of instruments had been used and was making its way back through the steam sterilizer. We were out of laundered OR gauze and drapes.
“I'm sure the central supply department worked through the night to get all the instruments sterilized and ready to be used again, the next day. And so goes life at the hospital these days. “BUSY” doesn't begin to describe the actually day!” , wrote one surgeon.
The day wasn’t what MCH’s surgical team had asked for or imagined. And yet they loved with all their heart, mind, and strength.
The song says, “They will know we are Christians by our love.”
When AOB established its initial programs in Bangladesh, our company’s purpose was to meet the lacks which those pioneer workers saw, and to point people to Him Who provides all our needs. In these 60+ years of operation, each new AOB project has been launched as God provides. Each new program begins on the same premises: We humans have lacks. We love our neighbors by helping to meet their needs.
AOB’s permanent projects include various types of medical and educational centers. These are primarily day schools and day-clinics in needy communities. Mobile clinics and traveling community health workers offer medical care, give further training for health-care providers, and help communities reduce health risks.
When the government gives the go-ahead, AOB offers case-by-case Emergency Relief as well. When we hear reports of fire or flooding or cyclone damage, we jump into action. Our Emergency Relief coordinator says, “Collectively we are always serving with compassion.”
We contact officials, and with permission we help those in need through rescue and relief. Response teams visit, confirm, and report unique needs of each area. AOB teams up with area churches in helping meet sudden needs of each community. Our project coordinator explains it: “It is true that we need to make hard and prayerful decisions in times of disaster. We also require transparent accountability for the way we make decisions about whom and how to help (using the collaborative work of a group of people from different areas), as well as for the purchasing and delivery. We keep the appropriate documents to preserve this process all along the way, which aids our reporting to the NGO Affairs Bureau. And the distribution helps all the needy of selected areas regardless of social, ethnic, and religious background, promoting communal harmony and treating all with dignity in the compassionate love of Jesus.”
Bangladeshi co-workers donate money and time, and prepare relief packets of food, blankets or clothing. Many of us donate blood when necessary. MCH medical teams address health needs of suffering communities and offer access to more extensive health care at Memorial Christian Hospital.
During the Rohingya refugee crisis, MCH has welcomed surgical referrals from MSF. The medical team operates, cares for, and rehabilitates gun-shot victims and land-mine amputees – and yes, elephant-attack victims.
Whether we’re faced with an on-going need or a sudden disaster, we can love with insight. Many years ago, the apostle James asked, “What good is it, brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ”Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” (James 2:14-16)
As that song says, “We will work with each other. We will work side by side.”
We work with the same purpose and joy. We celebrate recovery.