Sunday, January 15, 2006

Day 48.




This past weekend a group of us went to visit the rural MSF project. This project is about an hour away from the one I am currently working in and is truly in the Bush. The town center consisted of about 30 little tables with various fruits and vegetables along with a few shops that sold clothing and some hardware needs. The entire town can be walked around in about 20 minutes and this afternoon we spent some time doing that. Needless to say I now have very nice pink shoulders since I forgot to put on sun screen. This was the typical Africa as I have grown to know it. Children running around with no shoes and often no shirts, women carrying huge bags on their heads, chickens and donkeys roaming free and a feeling of poverty everywhere you turn. The expats that work in this area live in a compound that used to be used for making and selling coffins. Ironic that we are trying to prevent death and in the process rented out a building thats livelihood was death.
There is trouble getting registration for the MSF doctors here in Zimbabwe and the ones that come have to do rotations in the pediatrics unit at the local hospital. Esther, was on call on Friday night and when she came home she told us that four babies had died over night. The situation in the hospitals is horrible. The staff does not really seem to care, but it may just be that they are used to the chronic death. I visited the hospital on Thursday with one of the nurses from the clinic and there were people laying on the floor on mattresses naked in their own feces while the nurses handed out lunch to those that were actually awake. It was very surreal. One young woman was dying of AIDS and she was trying to talk to me, but her lymph nodes at her neck had swollen so large that it was blocking her airway and on top of that she had karposi sarcoma on her tongue which also made her tongue swollen. In the US she would have been given radiation to shrink the tumor and when I asked the local doctor what the long term plan was for her, he just looked at me and said, ¨there is no long term for her, she came too late.¨ Death is something I am still not comfortable with and I hope that I do not ever become ok with it. For my own sanity, I hope to try to keep preventing it.

3 Comments:

Blogger diego the boxer said...

Hi Nanc -
your note today made me felt sooo sad. eric & i spent most of the day walking in the chilling cold weather looking at open houses in the city. where we are, we think of our own selves too much most of the time. its hard to imagine that in a place where you are now, so many people die each day because of aids & poverty. last week, i saw a movie that was produced by hbo and shown on pbs. the movie is called 'yesterday'. it was shot in a rural place in south africa. a woman named 'yesterday' live w/ her daughter 'beautiful' in a poor community. yesterday's husband is a miner who works in johannasburg. yesterday has aids and did not know it. she got it from her husband. she was getting sicker each day until. the issues shown in the movie include a small clinic that is miles away from yesterday's home, 1 doctor from the clinic that treats hundreds of sick people each day, and poverty. so poor access to aids meds & poor sick people were the main focus. yesterday's husband got really sick first & eventually died. yesterday remained super strong until her daughter beautiful starts going to school... after the movie, there was a talk among humanitarian people who do work to deliver aids meds in africa. one of the foundations that was there was pres. clinton's foundation. the guest speakers were saying that the most important issue now is how to deliver these medications to the people who need them...
nanc, im really proud of you and your fellow msf. i always tell people whenever i get a chance to share the info, that i have a very good friend who work and treat aids patients... not everyone will have this opportunity in their lifetime... i wish that someday i can also care for people who are in desperate need. i appreciate your stories, and i look forward to reading them... its like my 'live' news and eye opener from the other side of the world...
okay, i wrote too long already. i wanted to let you know that all of us here miss you, and hope that you are feeling much better...
love,
katrina, eric & diego

7:48 PM  
Blogger Michelle and the Boys said...

Hey Nancy - -Keep up the faith and your spirits. The boys and I miss you DEARLY! - - your work and efforts there are amazing! - the boys and I decided that the worst part about 2005 was when you left. :( - but You also made the list of things that the family was really proud of this year. Love you love you -and miss you more - Michelle

11:31 PM  
Blogger Dermot said...

Hi Nancy

Just wanted to say that I admire you for heading out their to do what your doing. I don't know if we can really fully appreciate how tough it can be out there for you and for the people there from our cosy firesides and houses in the developed world.
At the same time I'm slightly envious of you in that this is something you will look back on and say "I'm really glad I did that" and tried to make a diference. I guess you will also make really good and lifelong friends out there as well.

Anyway well done and good luck out there

From cousin Dermot from Ireland

9:53 AM  

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