Korean flights and reporters and a family photo

My Bride and I are on a plane in a few hours flying back to the kids in Uganda, from Korea, this land of hand-helds and sliding doors, from the west side of Korea while a typhoon comes from the east, something our travel agent and the news have both warned us about.

But our Korean host, John, has arranged it and we manage this at the last minute, this interview.

They’re young, these two reporters, and from the fourth largest daily paper in Seoul. This city of 10 million has 11 daily papers. The five of us are meeting in Starbucks. Korea has more than you’d imagine.

The story is on Jean’s work with Save the Mothers.

It’s a footnote to our last few days here to share at a medical missions conference, but it’s an important one and nobody is drinking coffee.

Reporter One takes notes on her laptop, Reporter Two in her notepad while translating. John also translates. Jean tries to make it all as clear as she can.

The questions come along the expected lines of who and what and where and why.

And the answers. A developed nation like Canada, our home country, might lose a dozen or more mothers during childbirth in any given year. Uganda, which has a similar population, loses about 6,000.

(Of course, things are so shabby in sub-Saharan Africa, and women tend to be so dispensable, nobody really knows the exact number of dead mothers piling up because nobody’s really counting. very accurately.)

The two young women ask more questions.

I suspect it’s hard for them to get it, to really get it, not because they’re not good at what they do, but maybe for the opposite reason – focusing on their reporting careers has likely put their own motherhood experiences on hold.

So there are more questions and more translation and more answers from My Bride, and some gesturing with the hands, and more notes – and are these two reporters really getting it? – and, in the middle of it all I throw our family photo on top of the table between us.

The two young ladies stop and look down. And then … “Ahhhh.”

There we are, the Froese 5 between the African palms on our front yard. Reporter One asks about Hannah, the only ebony in the midst our ivory.

And while Hannah is many things, Jean notes that Hannah is, if nothing else, a reminder every day of why we do what we do in Africa.

This is how it goes – the power of a Ugandan orphan made into a former orphan. And it somehow clicks in this moment. We, and all those involved with us, work to save the mothers so that we, naturally, can save the children as well.

And while these two Korean reporters will likely never set foot in a place like Uganda, they’ve now stepped a bit closer. So will, we trust, their readers.

My Bride and I will now get on our all-night flight after this unexpected media coverage in a country that’s remarkably developed and connected, a place that’s maybe even well-situated to make a difference for mothers in far-flung Africa.

And on the plane I’ll read and catch a movie before sleep.

And I’ll have another family photo in my pocket.

One Comment

  1. Susan Joy October 8, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    Dearest Dr. Jean and Thomas,

    This is a great article once again Thomas! Thank you for taking the time to write and for sharing. I am sorry that I missed the Save the Mother’s event while you were home Jean. Thank you for the invitation and if I had been in good health I know that I would have been blessed by your message and the fellowship. I trust that you had a good turn out and raised a large sum of money. I would also like to extend my gratitude for sending the lovely, encouraging note to my Uncle, Dr. Gordon Erb. It was so thoughtful and kind of you to take the time to write to him and it touched his heart. Bless you dear friend!

    Sincerly Yours,
    Susan Joy Thornton

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