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12 May 2012

Dear Friends,

I am writing to you on a cloudy Saturday afternoon, 12 May 2012. My last letter was 21 April. That was not so long ago, but a number of things have happened since my last letter and I want to write them before I forget what happened. I only have 5 weeks and 2 days left before I begin my long journey home and lots can happen before that.

Last time I wrote I mentioned that we had started looking for blood donors and that we had given one blood transfusion in an emergency situation. We really began giving life-saving transfusions in earnest this month of May. I was in our Health Center ward yesterday when they were giving a little girl the 15th blood transfusion this month. In at least two of the cases the young children were extremely anemic and would most likely have died before they could get to Somanda Hospital an hour or so away. Even if they got there, their survival would have been at risk because of the delay of getting admitted, preparation and the terrible routine of paying bribes to anyone involved in the procedure. Blood is supposed to be free but that is often not the case.

Before we could officially begin giving blood transfusions, we had to be inspected by representatives of the blood bank at the big referral hospital at Bugando in Mwanza. Two men arrived here a couple of weeks ago in a small two-wheel drive Toyota pick-up. Amazingly, they didn’t get stuck on our very bad roads. However they did get stuck the next day after they left here. Over 20 of my workers hefted their little vehicle up and out of the sand in the creek bed and off they went. Their visit was extremely important as now we are registered with their blood bank. We can take blood there and receive “clean, ready-to-go” blood in return. We test blood here, but it takes time. They have an operation involving 28 workers who are funded by the Center for Disease Control and our government.

They did not find what they probably expected when they were taken to our new laboratory. When they entered the hallway of our open air veranda with off-white painted walls and white tiles on the floor, their comment was “that there is no problem here!” They were even more surprised and pleased when they entered our gleaming laboratory with a room that I designed just for receiving blood donations and preserving the blood in our solar powered refrigerator. It rained over 3 inches during their tour, precluding departure until the next day. So we had a good chance to visit and cement our relationship. Our quest to save lives by blood donations involved building the best laboratory in the district and even more difficult getting through or around the red tape and the unnecessary obstacles that we did not expect nor know how to deal with.

We give credit to God who in his Divine Mercy answered our years of prayers. We also had an unexpected answer to our prayers for land on which to build our hospital. The ruling party in our country had an acre of land that adjoins our property and that we actually drew into our site plan. We did so expecting that we would not have trouble getting the land at a fair price. There was a government party member whose family lived in a dilapidated crumbling mud block house. The party member spent his time in Bariadi and hardly ever came home. To make a long story short, between the greed of a few members of the local political party and the shenanigans of the party member who had spent more money on drinking than it would take to build a good house, we finally gave up on the property as they simply made it impossible for us to continue trying to get it.

The good news is that our parish council chairman is also a Ward Executive Officer. I mentioned to him that if we could just close the road that traverses the north side of our property we would be able to make enough room for the hospital. I didn’t believe that it was possible as many people travel on what is a big dirt cow path that we improved some. He said that he would talk to the village chairman and the chairman of our local area. Lo and behold, they came Friday morning and not only would it be possible but they would take care of it the next day. I agreed on my part to make the by-pass road with the Parish’s equipment once people removed trees and hedges. The land hassle was very disturbing for me but the results are better than the original plan!

Again, our thanks go to the Divine Mercy to whom we prayed for help.

Getting hooked up to electricity is finally getting to its final stages. It will be a great day when we can get electricity at the flip of a switch, especially in our work shop, laboratory and Health Center. Right now I am still reeling from the very high cost of wiring (switches, meters, circuit breakers, labor etc.) to so many buildings in the parish and the Health Center. We were blessed that a rural electrification project paid for the poles, wire, transformers etc. I simply could not have afforded it along with my education program, building and everyday running expenses. Again…Divine Mercy.

We now have the foundation in for our operating suites building. The heavy rains made work difficult but we are finally out of the ground and now have to start filling in. There was more slope in the site area than what appeared to us so the floor in the west end of the building will be higher up than we expected. This will necessitate building long sloping ramps on which to roll the gurneys going into the theater. We have a long ways to go on a project that started with two trips to Texas A&M University in 2010. Please join us in our prayers for funding. If I did not believe that the Songambele Hospital is God’s plan I would never attempt what I call “a preposterous project.”

I may send pictures later. I want to get this into cyberspace today.

Lastly, my schedule for the summer. I expect to arrive in Janesville, Wisconsin on 21 June and be in Prairie du Chien, WI on Sat. the 23rd or the next day depending on a bit of visiting I want to do before I get tied down with traveling, talks and hopefully fishing.

Church Dates

7/8 July St. Peter Ev. Lutheran in Prairie du Chien

14/15 July Spooner, Shell Lake and Sarona

21/22 July Lodi and Dane

29/29 July Rhinelander

4/5 August Sun Prairie

11/12 August Waunakee

18/19 August My home parish of Prairie du Chien

25/26 August Bloomington, Patch Grove, Cassville, and Glen Haven

Pray for me!

Love and prayers,

Fr. Paul E. Fagan

PS: Your e-mails would be welcome!

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