Back in the 1980s, when a truck or a shipping container arrived at the Bongolo Hospital from the capital city, Libreville, we could be almost certain it contained boxes from Women’s Missionary Prayer Fellowship groups (WMPF) in the United States.
And in those boxes were a variety of things; rolls of adhesive tape, Band-Aids, bars of soap someone collected during their hotel stays, tubes of antibiotics, lotions, antiseptics, gauze and cotton balls, and even bags of M&M’s.
Note to senders: never pack soap and M&M’s in the same box. Six months in a shipping container and you’d taste like soap too.
One of the most treasured items we received in those boxes from WMPF ladies were rolled sheet bandages. The rolls were made from strips of used bed sheets, torn into various lengths and widths, sown end-to-end and wrapped in rolls of 2-4 inches in diameter.
As nurses and nurses’ aides at Bongolo Hospital and at our satellite clinics, we used those rolled bandages for many things; of course as bandages, but not just as bandages.
We used them to wrap surgical packs for the operating room, and to string up intravenous bottles on poles or knobs above patients’ heads. We used them to immobilize patients’ arms during surgery when they were only anesthetized from the waist down. Strips of bandages were wrapped around newborns’ tummies to hold gauze on umbilical cords.
Probably the most unique use of a rolled bandage I ever saw was tied to a sagging muffler and to the underbody of a Toyota Land Cruiser truck returning from a trip to a village clinic. Undoubtedly the tail pipe had come loose hitting a hard rock or a gully on the rough road. I never did find out why the bandage didn’t catch on fire around the hot muffler.
Imagine how many rolls it took each day to cover the body of a man burned from his groin to his feet from a gasoline explosion. Imagine how may rolls it took to cover a woman’s tropical leg ulcer who was a patient at the Hospital for six months.
Imagine how many rolls were torn, again, into 4×4 and 2×2 squares to use as alcohol swabs when the regular supply of gauze had run out. Imagine rolled bandages around wounds on toes, legs, and feet, hands, arms, and heads.
Ask any Hospital team member how important the rolled bandages were/are. I’m sure they’ll have other examples. It was a crucial time at the Hospital when the supervisor of the storage warehouse told us the bandage barrel was getting empty.
To me those bandages represent hours and hours of work, acts of love, and symbols of prayer. Women in C&MA churches who rolled those bandages will only know in eternity how important those simple things were to us.
I hope the Lord rewards each and every woman for each and every bandage they rolled. And some day patients and staff of the Bongolo Hospital will thank each and every woman for their wonderful donations of love, time, and prayers.
Bongolo Friends Inc. knows how great the needs are to sustain and develop the Bongolo Hospital. We know how important each and every donation is. Whether $5, $500, or $5000, each gift will be invested in a work that has eternal value.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
– Matthew 6:19-21
Missionary Nurse in Gabon, 1980 – 1998