Saturday, February 6, 2010


As we were driving out the gate of our Centre in Ouagadougou one evening, headed for home a few kilometres away, one of the night guards held up his hand to stop us. We rolled down the window and he told us that the Centre’s day guard, who had left to go home a half hour earlier, had just had an accident on his motorcycle. It happened on the main east-west road, about a kilometre away.

We could well imagine the scene. Him driving down the narrow, ill-lit road on his small motorcycle amid all the other people heading home from work on bicycles, motos, and cars, with some trucks and donkey carts thrown in for good measure. Some people trying to get on the road, others making left turns to get off, and still others just trying to cross the road from one side to the other. It was one of these latter people that caused the accident. Misjudging the traffic, he darted across the road on his bicycle right in front of our guard.

In attempting to avoid a collision, our guard lost control of his moto and fell. And broke his left arm just above the elbow.

At the hospital, they told hm they’d need to operate and put in steel and screws to put the bone back together. Looking at the X-rays a couple of days later, I could see why. But first they decided to put the arm in a cast for a few days. Neither Kathy nor I are sure why. Maybe it’s because they weren’t ready to operate that day and decided to put it off until the middle of the next week. Then they sent him home.

As is customary, a number of his co-workers got off work early the following day to go and see him at home. I and a few others went to see him the day after that, taking along a bunch of bananas as a gift. He lives in a two room cement block house with at corrugated steel roof. Although middle-aged, he’s not married, so has no immediate family to help care for him. His church assigned a student to help him for a few days.

When we arrived, he came out of the bedroom to greet us, a heavy plaster cast covering his arm from shoulder to wrist. There was no sling around his neck to help carry its weight, so he had to hold on to it with his other hand as he walked or stood. It was only after he sat down that we were able to shake hands with him.

We sat crammed in various chairs in his main living room and talked for a while until we saw that he was fading. Then a co-worker prayed for him and we filed out to get back into our vehicle and be on our way.

I sure hope they do a good job on that operation and that his arm doesn’t get infected!


Aaron said...

Hi Mike,
Just curious - do you know what sort of costs would be incurred for someone in his situation?

Mike Steinborn said...

For the treatment so far, he's paid 150,000 FCFA (about $325). Not sure what all that covered, but probably treatment, supplies, a 1-night hospital stay, and whatever else. How much the operation will cost, I don't know yet.

Laura Dun said...

keep us updated Mike - hope the op goes well, will be praying

Mike Steinborn said...

Thanks, Laura. I'm thinking I'll talk to administration about where this operation should take place. It may cost more to get it done at a reputable place here, but will no doubt end up being more economical in the long run in terms of what the guard will have to go through, time lost from work, and money spent to get him back to health.