The hospital in Nalerigu has been running on a skeleton staff and only taking emergency cases since its pharmacist was shot and killed last Thursday night on his way home from work. The hospital staff and people throughout the village have been fearful because Nalerigu has always been such a peaceful village and because there were indications of ethnic motivation behind the shooting.

I’m happy to say that, though everything has not been completely resolved, the hospital will open for clinic again tomorrow. We had thought it would be next week or later before the hospital got up and running again, so this is very encouraging news. People have not stopped getting sick because of the problems in Nalerigu, so it is important that they be able to come to the hospital for help.

Please continue to pray for the community as it is still in mourning and awaiting the funeral. Pray for peace among the peoples and healing for the community as a whole.

4 Responses to “Reopening”

  1. bj says:

    We are praying for you and for the hospital and village. Keep up the good work and don’t get discouraged you are doing a mighty work for the Lord and He will see it through.

  2. Matt says:

    It’s definitely not hard to remember that our worlds are very different, even for the folks here who have a western education and are Christian, cultural ties are very strong. And for some, I’m sure working here is just a good job and not a high calling with a obligation or duty. But at home there are plenty of folks like that too. I remember in med school, people talking about some gang member being shot to death by a “visitor” while he was on the vent in the ICU back before we had metal detectors, or the doc that got knifed at the VA, and how many nurses there do you think quit that day? (of course that could have just been a good story they told the med students).

    Yes, confusion abounds about how Darryl is related to me, my uncle, Megan’s uncle, or as the locals like to hear… my wife’s mother’s senior brother. (it’s just like when we used to sit around with Grandma and figure out just what kind of kin Uncle So-and-so is to us, they all want to hear it, but nobody will remember in 10 minutes). It’s shorter to say “your uncle” than to say “your wife’s uncle and didn’t I promise, “what’s mine is yours,” besides he walked around with me most of his stay.

    We went to “greet” the family Monday, almost just like visitation at home. All the missionaries and volunteers rode to their house and sat down with the extended family on benches outside briefly while they informed the family inside and Earle just expressed our sorrow and our prayers for them and then we went inside to greet his sisters and 2 wives (So that might shock some people, but multiple wives are not too uncommon, even among Christians like this family though Christians who have more than one wife are usually excluded from being deacons as the Bible mandates. If you have more than one its usually 2, unless you’re the chief, in which case you may have to take many because of politics.)

    Jay (one of the IMB guys over West Africa) and Dr.Fort (who was a surgeon here for a long time before he became a psychologist and now takes care of missionaries) and his wife all came down from Ouagadougou to visit, initially were to come later in the month for business I think.

    Yes, the compound is safe, but still we take precautions, our house is already concrete walls with 2 inch sandstone pavers on the outside with Burglar bars, heavy hog wire, then mosquito screen, we lock our doors ever since we came, not because thievery is frequent but because it’s just better for everybody. (we don’t have anything significant to steal, but if somebody did steal something from us the police would be very hard on them- “Many a thief is saved by a locked door,” I think Jefferson said.) We also have a night watchman and watchmen at the gates of the compound. For now there are also police and military throughout the town and at the hospital.

    As I am my father’s son and a Boy Scout, we packed an emergency bag in case we need to leave suddenly… this seems very, very unlikely even ridiculous, but hey, that’s what being prepared means. It contains a pocket knife, lighter, granola bars, water, extra clothes, and… an obscure novel by an up-and-coming Asian writer (how can we survive without good literature, she says! I promise to pass this on to the Scoutmasters for January’s Survival Campout.)

    So below is a summary; here at the schoolhouse some folks were just chatting about emails getting hacked in other countries which got me paranoid, knowing the internet is everybody’s morning paper and since the guys in camo are patrolling town, you’ll have to forgive me for being vague about names (like I said above- ridiculous but prepared).

    Things are beginning to get closer to normal, enough so that the workers met again today and have decided to resume work as normal. They will somehow attempt to keep it lighter for this and because our volume has tremendously increased – in September, we saw 9000 patients in clinic, and towards the end they changed from the traditional 3 day MWF clinic for years and years to every day except sat and Sun thinking instead of clinic from 10am to 7pm, we could have 10am to 3 or 4pm, instead we saw 16,000 patients in October, with days still lasting to 6pm and everyone exhausted, and now the man who juggled the pharm and the billing is lost and everyone else is recovering slowly.

    Rumors are many. I’ll try to synthesize what I’ve heard. The real reason this particular man was picked is hard to know, but some of the basic tribal conflict stems from the days of the slave raiders when the M tribe were the most powerful in this region (and still are) they sent warriors to a distant village of tribe K to protect them and in return that village came under the rule of a M chief until this day.

    In the early 2000s, fighting broke out in that village over the chieftaincy as the local K people didn’t want to be under M rule any more… I have no idea what kind of implications this has when there is a stable modern democratic republic overlaying these tribal kingdoms, but the traditional governing system still has a great deal of domestic power. This fighting has continued waxing and waning but confined to that disputed village.
    Our town is the seat of the paramount chief of the M meaning not just of this town but king over all the other M chiefs who are over their particular village.

    Our pharmacist was by birth a K while raised here practically as an M, with no connection to the disputed village, but for some time had received anonymous threats and accusing murmurs through the grapevine that he was aiding K by bring munitions up from Accra… as pharm frequently there to by hospital meds, and having a wife and kids all in school in Accra , and having previously run for the national legislature, gave him pretty good reason to be there, so most people and he especially thought these accusations were ridiculous… like late-night-radio conspiracy theories. This seems to be the pretext to last thurs tragedy, and in many ways looks like somebody is trying accumulate rational and support to get rid of someone they hate.

    They have arrested a couple of accomplices though it’s not entirely clear they’ve arrested the one directly responsible or if the agitators are all locally based or if they are being emboldened by others from the disputed village. Several more people were arrested or taken for questioning. But there has been no more violence.

    It seems that the older and wiser of the M have revealed the tragic irony that the grandfather of the man who did it was a K, so while he thought he was a M he was really a K and now he is probably repulsive to all and hero to none. His house has since been burned down.

    Some others in the hospital have left town either because of their ancestry or a few have received threats too. So the police and military back up remain on alert and workers who want are ferried to and from work with a soldier riding on the back of their moto toting a rifle across his chest.

    They’ve decided to restart clinic with armed protection at the gates and in the outpatient department, but we’ll be going back to the old MWF clinic schedule. Today’s clinic was light but by next week, I’m sure it’ll be full.

    So your prayers are effective, things have improved in 24 hours that I thought would take weeks! And for that we praise God.

    Please continue to pray for the hospital and the situation here.

    The funeral is next Friday so pray all will be peaceful and for the family’s continued comfort and protection.

  3. Rhonda Merriman says:

    Megan and Matt, thanks for this update. It really gives one a clearer picture for what has transpired. We will continue to pray for the entire situation and for your protection.

  4. Olivia says:

    Megan and Matt… You are in my prayers for protection and for everything that you are facing and will face in the future. God is so amazing! I’m so glad that you get to make such an impact on so many lives.