We were an interesting group. Eleven people from seven countries on three continents, born into seven ethno/linguistic groups, coming together in a country none of us was from for a single purpose: To learn about and share in the ministry to families of children with hydrocephalus in our respective countries.
We met for the first time in Kampala as we waited for the last member of our cohort to arrive. It was Sunday morning and various degrees of jet lag and travel weariness were put aside as we gathered together for a short time of prayer and sharing. Just beginning to learn one another’s names but united in focus, we packed our luggage into the bus and began the five-hour drive to the CURE Hospital in Mbale. Only three of our troop had been to Mbale before, so the sights and sounds were fresh and different.
Several hours into our drive the bus overheated, and the driver pulled off to add coolant to the engine. As we were milling around the bus being careful to stay off the road, we heard the sound of a speeding car hitting something and another thud as a bicycle and rider came down on the pavement. The SUV stopped a short distance down the road but quickly sped off without anyone getting out. The cyclist and the mangled bike lay in the road only 20-30 feet from us, with notebook paper fluttering to the pavement and dozens of people seemingly frozen as they looked on.
In that horrible moment, when the realization of what happened and that we were all far from home and that no one in our group knew the local language came over us, it seemed that time stood still. Long ago, in a neighboring country, I had experienced being accosted by a large menacing crowd of people who assumed I had hit someone after we just stopped to assist. Several others had been advised to not stop to help in these type situations since someone with a vehicle helping a pedestrian who had been hit was frequently accused and sometimes attacked for having been the cause of the accident.
Before time began moving again for me, two of the Care Coordinators sprinted toward the scene and stooped down over the victim. Noticing the torn and rumpled Bible lying next to the bike, it was fair to assume that the man was coming from church. He began to writhe and moan, so vital signs were taken as a crowd started to grow. After a few minutes the nurse in our group assessed that he was stable but needed to get to a hospital. Our bus driver absolutely refused to take him on board. A car was flagged down but also refused (Even showing up at a hospital with a hit and run victim has resulted in arrest using the logic of “Why would you put a bleeding person in your car if you weren’t responsible?”). A motorcyclist agreed to tell the police at the next town try to get them to send someone. He drove off, back toward Kampala.
We re-boarded the bus prayed for the victim and continued on our way. In a very few minutes, we saw a police check, and the bus driver stopped to report the accident. I must confess that it was one of the few times I have been happy to see the police at one of those check points! As we pulled away they were mobilizing to go to the accident scene. The intensity of those first hours together laid the framework for an amazing training and spiritual retreat for the CURE Hydrocephalus Care Coordinators.
During the week, we worshiped, were taught about hydrocephalus and spina bifida, learned how to use the software and hardware for data collection and reporting, shared about counseling and encouraging parents, laughed, cried, prayed, and got to know one another. Being at the CURE Children’s Hospital was a special treat as we were able to interact with the staff and many kids in the hospital in various stages of treatment. The medical, counseling, and spiritual expertise at the hospital is vast and was readily demonstrated.
I was moved by the deeply caring spirit of all those involved. The seeming hopelessness of some of the cases from a medical standpoint, and the despair of loving parents from the spiritual standpoint, showed me what a special group the Coordinators are. I know that I am incapable of the type of ministry that they do every day. I praise God that He has called each one of them to ministry, and I am grateful that CURE equips and supports them in this calling.