Whenever a VVF patient goes home we have a celebration on the ward. On Thursday, the last three of the group of about 40 women who received surgery this outreach were discharged. They had been on the ward for over a month and developed close friendships with several of the nurses and it was both happy and sad to see them go.
The celebration is called a "dress ceremony" and each women is given a new dress, which she chooses, to symbolize the start of her new life. The women go to a separate room where they are dressed and made up. You get use to seeing them in the ward wearing hospital gowns, loose hair, and no make up. When they wear their brightly colored new dresses, put on a soft touch of make up, and elegantly wrap their heads in illustrious African fabrics- they look like queens. I nearly cry every time I see a VVF woman dressed for her ceremony. They are that beautiful.
At the ceremony each woman sings her own song. She chooses it and leads the translator's and onlookers in jubilant African praise. She then gives a testimony of what God has done in her life through her sickness and through her surgery.
The testimonies can be heartbreaking. Grown woman talking about how they have spent years being rejected; teenage girls recalling their still born baby; wives whose husbands have left them. And yet they praise God.
When I hear their stories I am also humbled by their faith in God and their love for Him. They don't testify of self-pity or anger- they thank the Lord for what He has done for them. It's a beautiful moment to be a part of.
My normally rather un-emotional self always sheds a few tears. It really can't be helped.