Pat Jamison, one of our Mission Partners, gave us many illustrations of how she does this in a loving and joyful way at a well-attended Mission Breakfast in the Rank Room recently. Pat is based in Jobarpar, a rural area of Bangladesh, which is twice the size of Ireland. Jabarpar is 8 hours away from the capital Dacca.
Pat lives in a large compound which includes a school, St Mary’s Church of Bangladesh, a sisterhood of nuns attached to the same church, a Methodist Church and a boys’ and girls’ hostel. Pat outlined in many ways how being part of the community had meant so much to her and been a great support in her work and life.
Pat admitted that she really struggled to learn Bangla – and when she showed us some of the written language we were all very understanding! Pat asked that we all continue to pray that God will help her with her language proficiency. Very little English is spoken or written in Bangladesh.
Pat, who worked as a nurse in Northern Ireland until 18 months ago, outlined how she had always wanted to work overseas but God didn’t call her. She then determined to move on in her career in the NHS and went on a course at University of Ulster in public health nursing. This, of course, turned out to be so useful when she was called to Jobarpar where she is attempting to train nurses and work with medical advisors and doctors. Pat has written a training manual and Biplob her driver and friend, is translating it for her into Bangla. Biplob not Diplack is my friend and not my driver who has translated my manual.
The other big challenge for Pat in Bangladesh is how often she has to travel in little canoes on water or cross rivers on flimsy bamboo bridges. She commented that God really has a sense of humour in putting her in this particular part of the world as she is really afraid of water. You think you trust me, He seems to say – try this!!
Pat said the nurses are poorly trained at the moment and there is no one to support them. She is trying to expand the community health programme. Health treatment in Bangladesh is not free and even poor people have to pay to see a doctor or nurse. Pat described how pharmaceutical products are often mis-sold to patients and outlined how one man, with an ear infection, was on 6 different drugs, 4 of them were different types of anti-biotic and none of them were actually suitable for his complaint. Pat is able to advise the local people about medication, but also to show them simple ways they can improve their health. Doctors in Bangladesh will not allow patients to ask any questions about their complaint or the medication they prescribe so Pat can talk to people and answer their concerns.
Pat has set up 3 mobile clinics in out-lying areas so that people won’t have so far to travel for health care and advice. The local people regard her as like a doctor because, with her training and experience in Northern Ireland, she knows as much as the Bangadeshi doctors.
Special needs child
One of Pat’s slides showed a child with special needs. The family had taken him to Dacca to see a doctor but couldn’t afford to do so again. Pat talked to them and advised them about simple things they could do to help him: to play with the child and talk to him. Also to encourage him to try to stand and strengthen his legs. The parents hadn’t done any of this but up till then had left him to lie in a corner with little stimulation.
Pat has also worked in a slum area with travelling people. She works with a women’s group on education and development work. She said very poor people want to know how they can keep their families well with the resources they have available. In areas like this illnesses spread very quickly without the right advice. TB treatment is available but medication has to be taken for 9 months and often people don’t stick with it that long.
Pat has also worked with women at risk of trafficking (because they are widows or their husbands have gone off and left them). The MWI had helped to buy sewing machines so that these women could be trained to make a living for themselves.
Very sadly, Pat, who is interested and passionate about palliative care, doesn’t have many medicines available to help people who are in pain or dying. She told us about how she had looked after an elderly gentleman in his final days and how she had supported his family. Pat is on Face book and when she wrote on her page about her lack of dressings little parcels started to arrive to help her with her patients!
Children called Patrick? The Pied Piper?
Pat has been asked to name children and Patrick is her favourite boy’s name. One child had a heart defect (leaking valve) and the parents had asked for prayer. Six weeks later he came into the clinic running and jumping and the family were delighted at all she had done. Pat said that at times she feels like the Pied Piper as everywhere she goes she is followed by children. She often has sweets to give them of course, but also her time, attention and love.
Pat spoke about the joy she gets from interaction with the local community in her compound and beyond and especially the children. She was a District Commissioner in the GB in Northern Ireland and wasn’t in Jobarpar long before she had joined the company there. She helps with worship and dancing and won’t ever forget the joy released when she first taught them – “Our God is a Great Big God!” She also has many little friends in the boys’ hostel in the compound, who she makes time for, usually between 4.30 and 5.30 every day.
What can we do?
Pat asked us to continue to pray for her work. At times she can be in very challenging situations and it can be frustrating when she sees how corruption is affecting the lives of people. Please give money to MMS(I) and get involved in mission trips to help Mission Partners.
“And if you can’t do it yourself – support someone who can!” said Pat.
Pat also expressed her great thanks to Rev Leslie Wallace from our congregation, who has loaned Pat his car for the duration of her furlough.
Pat has a 3 year contract in Bangladesh and isn’t worried about the future. She quoted Jeremiah 29, verses 11-13:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” (New Living Translation)
Everyone had a very enjoyable morning and £284 was collected in donations for Pat’s work. Pat sent her thanks and said:
“You have no idea how far this money will go in my project!”