Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Life continues...

I have just returned from my first Board meeting with Mission Doctors Association. It was a two-day “retreat” where we went over all aspects of the organization, including reviewing the Mission Statement, Values, etc. You can get an update on the web site.

During the weekend, I talked with Jessica about my blog and how I had not done much of an update lately, because it does not seem appropriate to write in the blog about my life in Florida! After all, people want to read about “life in the missions.” I do keep up with the life at St. Theresa Hospital, so here is some of that information.

On a monthly basis, the hospital administrator, Ms. Hove, sends me all of the financial information; how much diesel has been used and how much is in the tank for future use; how donor money that I supply has been used during the past month; the complete hospital statistics that are sent to the Ministry of Health; and the Pharmacy inventory statistics. I go over those reports each month, and send back comments and questions to Ms. Hove. About three weeks ago, I also was able to talk with her via Skype on a Sunday morning. We chatted for about 40 minutes, so it was a good time to really get some pertinent information, and also to just hear how things are going.

They are indeed going quite well in spite of all of the difficulties. The staff are still paid a pittance by the government (as are ALL government employees in the country). The top nurses salary is about $180 per month, and the bottom “general hand” salary is $100. It seems like so little (and it is) but it is still better than during the days of hyperinflation, when the Zimbabwe currency would lose half of its’ value within one to two days. Now at least, if one has $20 US today, it is still worth $20 next week or next month or next year!

The financial report for the first six months is quite impressive. Remember, this is to operate a hospital that is averaging about 60 patients per day, plus a very busy out-patient department, a maternity ward that delivers around 90 babies per month, and an extensive AIDS diagnosis and treatment center, with several out-reach centers. The figures exclude most salaries, since those are paid directly by the government. There are a few still having to be paid by the hospital out of “revenue.”

Total revenue for six months: $80,000.

Sources of revenue:
Hospital fees 50%;
Donations: 25%;
Government allocations 20%;

“other” 5%.

Total expenses: $80,000. Medicine purchases is 25%, and the remainder is all of the other items needed to keep the hospital running. Remember, this is for six months! Of course, there are many things that “just do not get done” because there is not the money for it, but still, the main work of the hospital goes on and I feel that it goes on very well. They can all be proud of the good work they are doing under such difficult conditions.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Archbishop Romero Prayer

On this blog is a copy of the “Romero Prayer” (left). People that know me, know that part of that prayer is my mantra: “We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation
 in realizing that. This enables us to do something, 
and to do it very well.” It could well be the mantra for anyone working in the Third World, where many times it seems hopeless. If one reads that prayer frequently and meditates on it, then we can focus on the something we can do, and we can indeed try to do it to the best of our ability. That is all that God asks of us.

I would like to clarify some things about the prayer. I was given a copy of it at a retreat given by Bishop Robert Morneau, Auxiliary Bishop of Green Bay, Wisconsin. In fact, it was given to
us on a retreat at beautiful Chambers Island in 2000, and it was at this retreat that we decided that we would be able to return to Zimbabwe for long term work, which eventually ended up being nearly eight years. In any event, the prayer was listed as “A prayer that Romero used at a retreat for priests, shortly before he was martyred in 1980.” It has become know as “The Romero Prayer” even though he never actually claimed to have written it. In fact, it was written by Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw, Michigan, and was drafted for a homily by Cardinal John Dearden in Nov. 1979 for a celebration of departed priests. It is appropriate that we give credit to Bishop Untener for being the author, and for Archbishop Romero for his martyrdom and example of how we should live our lives.

Maybe we could head this prayer in this manner: “The Romero Prayer”, popularized by Archbishop Romero but written by Bishop Ken Untener in 1979.