July 11th, 2018
"Whatever your hands finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave you are going."
During our week at Princess Mary Louise (PML) Children’s Hospital in Accra, I had the pleasure of cooking with the kitchen staff during lunch and the experience was truly humbling.
PML is a public hospital and in fact, the only one that caters to specifically children in the region. Amazingly, this is the hospital where Kwashiorkor, a disease defined by malnutrition due to a severely inadequate amount of protein,by Cicely Williams in 1931. Though PML's ups and downs with patient relations and employment conflicts, it has become the primary heath center for urgent and severe cases of malnutrition. Because of the hospital’s credentials, I instantly became interested in all things nutrition in this facility and I thought a soft (and fun) place to start would be the kitchen.
I ordered lunch and sat down while I waited. Next to me, I saw the staff getting ready to prepare fufu. They brought out a wooden stick (pestle), a wooden standing bowl (morter), and a bucket of water. The stick was used to pound the fufu into the bowl and the water was used to keep the food from becoming too hard or dry. Staff member, Ruby, asked me if I wanted to learn. My eyes lit up and said, "Yes!” before my mouth did. I’ve prepared fufu on my stove top before, but never in the “traditional way.” I watched Ruby put two hands on the pestle and pound with force, as another staff member folded the fufu.They would go back and forth. It looked easy, so I looked at her and said, "I’m ready.” I was quickly humbled due to the fact that it wasn’t easy at all. I was afraid of pounding the woman’s hands which were folding the fufu because of how fast the process went. You just had to get the synchronization right or there could be a bad accident. So because of this, I was often afraid to make the move altogether. For this reason and also the way I underestimated how much strength this actually took, things weren’t going too well. Ruby got up and grabbed the pestle with me and said, “No — you it needs to make a sound!” The pestle needed to hit the bowl straight to the bottom— wood on wood— so the fufu can be made correctly. I started pounding the fufu by myself again, with all my strength on me and my fear to the side. She said, “Yes, that’s it!” This lasted for just about 15 seconds, but I still felt accomplished!
How many times have we been ineffective in doing the right thing due to the risk of possibly hurting someone else? Sometimes we underestimate a task, and the new question to ask is not if we still want it, but if you’re willing to face everything that could go wrong. My fear of hurting the woman’s hands was in the way of me doing the job. Although my fear was valid, she was a professional. My fear controlled my efficiency, not her hands.
Even while working in the hospitals, I’ve realized that in doing your job, you can’t always please everyone. You may have to make tough calls, and the most imprtant calls pose great risks. The word “safe” has a positive connotation, generally, but how can you reach new discoveries in life while remaining in a safe place? It's important to conisder the feelings of others of course, but there's the way you perceive they will feel and there's the reality of the situation. Sometimes we have to have those tough conversations despite the awkwardness. We have things that we cannot condone, although it may mean so much to that person. Making an impact and bearing fruit in any relationship will take strength & courage. Otherwise, we will have surface level relationships that fail to make a sound, or impact, on either party. Let's work at this with our might, leaving no room for regrets.
"For am I now seeking approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ."
Alexis Adaure Nosiri
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