Sunday, July 27, 2008

NRT in Kostanai, Kazakhstan - 27 July 2008

The big day finally arrived!! We have been hearing about, planning for and praying for the NRT ever since we got here. We (Roy and Gene Wikle) picked up Dr. George and Marcia Bennett from Farmington, Utah and Dr. Dennis and Nancy Hughes from Bountiful at the airport bright and early on Saturday morning, July 12th and took them to their hotel. We visited the Perinatal hospital here in Astana to check out their facility and then spent the rest of the day getting acquainted and making preparations for our trip to Kostanai on Sunday morning.

We flew out of Astana early Sunday morning in a 48 passenger prop plane and were met at the airport by Dr. Ivan Abramovich, Chief Regional Obstetrician for the Oblast (state) and Dr. Tatyana Barisovna, head doctor of a maternity hospital. They were so happy to see us and took us directly to the hospital to see the facility where we would be having the training.

This is Dr. Dennis and Nancy Hughes, Dr. Ivan and Dr. Tatyana and our translator, Mira. Nancy brought blankets, clothes, and hats from her ward in Bountiful. Here they are dressed in their whites to go and deliver them to the mothers and babies in the hospital.This is Dr. George and Marcia Bennett who do 5 or 6 Neonatal Resuscitation Trainings a year. This is their missionary calling. He is a retired anesthesiologist from the University of Utah Medical Center and he and his wife do these trainings in many countries in the East Europe Area.

In the evening Dr. Mark Underwood, a neonatologist from Sacramento, California, and Dr. Zirina Beisembayeva and Dr. Aliya Aubakirova, also neonatologists from Almaty, Kazakhstan, who were trained during the last NRT training, and Svetlana Rahimzhanova, our visa clerk and translator for the NRT training, flew in and joined us, completing the team.

Monday morning we set up in the hall for registration, Anne, Marcia, Anna Bloom, our local translator from Kostanai, and Nancy. We were expecting about 40 people but 68 showed up! We were thrilled!! Every person who comes gets a Neonatal Resuscitation Textbook by the American Academy of Pediatrics that is translated into Russian by the Church.

Over a two day period, six lessons are taught and after four of the lessons, there is practical training on the baby mannequins (which have been in our apartment for the last 3 months) so the participants know exactly what to do and how to do it. They are also tested and scored.

The training is for doctors, nurses and midwives. Here is a group of them taking the test after the lecture.
While half of them are taking the test, the other half are in the practical training. This group is practicing the lesson on ventilation.
Here is Dr. Hughes, who is an obstetrician, and Mira, his translator at the table making sure their group know the procedure.
Here is Svetlana with Dr. Bennett explaining the procedure to their group.
This is Dr. Aliya (in red) explaining what to do when a baby is born and not breathing.
Here is Dr. Mark Underwood explaining the procedure of what to do when a baby is in distress to Dr. Tatyana and others. Ten percent of all babies born need help breathing after birth. The World Health Organization is trying to get the number of deaths per thousand births below 16. In Kazakhstan the number is somewhere between 23-27. And for every death, there are four children who live who will have mental handicaps.

After the two day course, the doctors, nurses and midwives were presented with certificates of completion and each hospital was given delivery room and training equipment for which they were very thrilled!! The Church donates $40,000 worth of training and delivery room equipment for the hospitals. Now they are to go back and train their entire hospital staff in the use of the equipment and how to work as a team in saving babies.
Dr. Ivan and Dr. Tatyana were presented these two pictures by Dr. Bennett from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for all of their hard work in providing the facilities and getting all of the doctors to come to the training. They were the "local champions". They were extremely supportive, helpful and compassionate people. We fell in love with all of them.Not all of the people we fell in love with were doctors. This lady was in charge of the food that we had at breaks, morning and afternoon. She and her staff packed in 10 tables twice a day and filled them full of delicious sandwiches, pastries, cakes, and candy for everyone. And tea, for everyone, but the LDS people. She was so warm and friendly and made sure we had extra of everything. We gave her a big hug when we left and told her we would miss her!Olga is a psychologist who deals with women going through post partum depression. She and I became very good friends although I needed a translator to talk to her. She was so sweet and helped us out by making additional copies of tests and answer sheets and registration forms. She is delightful lady. It's wonderful that even with a language barrier you can still bond with wonderful people with the aid of the Holy Ghost which truly strengthened our testimony of the Lord's hand in this work.

This is the whole NRT Team. Back: Dr. Dennis Hughes, Roy Welling, Dr. Mark Underwood, Dr. George Bennett, Svetlana Rahimzhanova and Dr. Aliya Aubakirova. Front: Anna Bloom, Nancy Hughes, Anne Welling, Dr. Zarina Beisembayeva, Marcia Bennett and Mira Mussabekova.
After the presentation, Dr. Tatyana showed us the maternity ward of the hospital. Here is Dr. Zarina and Dr. Mark Underwood explaining how to monitor a baby in an incubator when they don't have any equipment to monitor blood gases. Svetlana is translating .
In the evening, Dr. Ivan and Dr. Tatyana picked us up and took us to a wonderful restaurant at a resort in Kostanai. It was a traditional meal of "Beshbarmak" and all of the trimmings to go with it. They were so wonderful to all of us and couldn't thank us enough! We will never forget the people in Kostanai!
Wednesday morning, the doctors again picked us up and took us to the airport and gave each of us a nice gift. This is such a small airport; ours was the only plane there and they transported us from the airport out to the plane in this fifth wheel trailer pulled by a 1950 vintage truck!!

As we board the plane for our journey back to Astana, we are looking forward to the rest of our NRT adventure which we will report on next week.


Elder and Sister Welling

Sunday, July 6, 2008

6 July 2008 - Happy Birthday, Astana, Kazakhstan!!

Today ends the 10 day celebration of Astana's birthday. It has been 10 years since Astana became the capital of Kazakhstan and everyone has celebrated all week, including us. Because so many of the NGO's are out of the office, there was nothing we could do. In spite of that, we managed to pick up all the printing for the NRT and get it collated and put together. We also packed 10 boxes with equipment and manuals and they are now ready to ship to Kostanai on Monday. Monday night we went to the "Othello" (the opera). It was wonderful! It was either in Italian or Latin, but they had Russian subtitles, so everyone could understand it, but us, of course! (But we already knew the story line!) The music was so good and the actors were incredible! We absolutely loved it!! Here we are with Kulnazira, who is an NGO that we work with. We were able to meet this wonderful man who is the Ambassador for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Alexander Keltchevsky. This organization works with the Parliament in advising them about laws here in Kazakhstan that will help or hurt them. We felt that he was a good man to know. It is amazing to us that everytime we go out, we meet someone that we need to know!! The Lord is truly directing our work.
Tuesday night we went to the Symphony on the River and it was wonderful!! The night was calm and beautiful. They built a stage on the river and bleachers on the river bank.
Here we are at the concert. There was a laser light show during the concert that was incredible. The concert started at 9 and went until 11 and then the fireworks began.
The fireworks were unbelievable and went on for 30 minutes!! They started with boats on the river with fireworks on them and they went to the far bank and into the sky. It was the best fireworks display we have ever seen. This huge sign that says "With Love, Astana" was facing us from across the river.
Mira and Anne standing at one of the lighted arches on the river walk.
Anne, Roy and MIra after on the concert at one of the lighted trees around the city.
Wednesday we went to the Pyramid of Peace to see what we thought was "Carmen" the opera, but instead turned out to be an interpretive dance of "Carmen". They were a wonderful dance group from Italy. We enjoyed it very much.This is outside the Pyramid after the concert. We are laughing because a very young gentlemen kept looking at Roy as we came out of the concert. He went ahead of him and then stood and looked back at him. Finally, he couldn't stand it any longer and walked up to Roy and in perfect English said, "Has anyone every told you that you look like Donald Rumsfeld?" We laughed and told him, "Yes, almost everywhere we have ever been, but no one has ever asked us that in Kazakhstan!!" He asked if he could have his picture taken with Roy and then he took just a picture of Roy. He also asked if he could email us so we gave him our card. He is an investment banker at KAZ Bank. What a delightful person!

Friday was the 4th of July and the Wikles invited us to the US Embassy for a good old fashioned barbecue. It was great to be able to visit with other Americans and eat American food! God Bless America!! Be grateful where you live even if gas is $4.00 a gallon!!

In the evening we went to Astana Park with Mira to see Kazakh dancing and traditional Kazakh dress. They also had booths set up to sell their crafts.

This man, with his traditional dress, is displaying his eagle. Traditonally, Kazakhs used eagles to hunt with. They are also on the Kazakh flag.
Here is some of the traditional dress of the Kazakhs.
We loved seeing the young people dressed in the clothes of their Kazakh ancestors.
Saturday we went to the Russian Circus with the handicapped children from the English Club. We also met Mira's dad and mom, Asylbek and Dametken Mussabekova, and her brother, Kazbek. We had a hard time communicating because Mira was at a friend's wedding, but Kazbek did his best! They are wonderful people and we hope to meet them again before we go home. They live in Pavlador and Kazbek goes to the university here in Astana.

After the circus, we walked home through Astana Park and took one last look at all of the yurts. A nice man took this picture of us in front of this one. It has been a wonderful week of many events.

We may not post for the next two weeks. The American doctors arrive on Saturday, the 12th, and they don't all leave until the 23rd, so we will be busy! But we are excited for them to come. We will let you all know how everything goes!

Thanks for all of the wonderful family and friends that pray for us each week. We feel your prayers every day!!


Elder and Sister Welling