Thursday, January 17, 2013

Tuesday Part One

That Church
Yesterday was interesting for its contrasts. It was a beautiful warm day with hardly any wind, and at about 4pm, very little having happened all day, I decided to go for a walk back to that lovely church among the trees. I had prints of the photo of the guard and the half blind nun to give them, and also sad news that there were no immediate plans for an Eye surgeon to visit Motta.

 I remember his visit last year when I was here : literally hundreds of people turned up one morning, near blind elderly men and women and family members looking after them. They sat on the ground all round the hospital, were eventually all assessed and the lucky few, probably 20 or 30 with the worst cataracts were operated on over the following day or two, and again they sat around outside after their surgery with a patch over one eye. I couldn’t find out why this obviously much needed service isn’t operating any more, but continuity and reliability in terms of service delivery in this part of the world can never be counted on – whether its to do with funding or some other vagary I have no idea. A case in point from yesterday – we needed some critical IV antibiotics for the woman I will describe later – but the Pharmacy had none left! Today, investigating this ridiculous situation I discovered there are actually THREE Pharmacies in this hospital – one for Inpatients, one for Outpatients and one for Clinic patients – and they don’t appear to communicate with each other because I discovered the antibiotic we needed was still available at one of the other “Pharmacies”. I suppose it keeps people in jobs if you have three of the same thing in one tiny hospital but how wastefully inefficient, and how hopeless that the Inpatient one not only allowed its stock to run right out but had no idea that the drug was available at the other “Pharmacy” about 20 meters away! Meanwhile my patient is receiving inadequate treatment, maybe even dying because of office inefficiency.

 So, as usual I set off by a different route to the Church. Ive noticed the further away I get from the hospital the less irritating the children are – the ones near the hospital have recently started throwing stones and dust at me and sneaking up behind me to poke me with a stick. This no doubt is the result of a couple of changes in my own behaviour – for one, nowadays I mostly ignore the chorus of “Hi” “Faranji” “Give money” etc etc that are yelled at me by every kid under about 12 that sees me, even if I am 100 yards away they scream out at me and expect me to turn and wave or call back – which I used to do but eventually one wishes for some peace and quiet when walking the streets, to be left alone with ones own thoughts and not have every ragged kid regard me as some sort of mobile entertainment centre. The other thing that happened was when walking alone one evening recently I spied twin baby goats and their mother nestled down among some small trees in the late afternoon sun : a beautiful picture waiting to be snapped, so I quietly approached and was quite close, getting my camera out when suddenly the cry went up “Faranji, Faranji” ( it means Foreigner) Within seconds a horde of screaming children started racing across from around a nearby corner, “Faranji, Faranji, Hi Hi, give money…” and of course the startled goat stood up and so did her twins, the moment was lost, destroyed by this damn snotty filthy rabble…I was infuriated and lost my patience, and when I lost it and turned towards them and shouted back “Go AWAY, leave me alone” and rushed forwards a few steps towards them, as I expected they all turned on their heels and ran like hell in the opposite direction – they are often quite afraid of Faranji! One poor kid, in blind panic turned and ran straight into a tree, reeled back howling and then took off again!

So the further away I got from the hospital, the fewer were the shouts and cries going up alerting the neighbourhood to my presence, till, after crossing a rickety wooden bridge over a near dry creek. I was walking past animals and kids and houses in almost blissful silence. People still said Hi as we passed on the track, or they said nothing and withdrew inside their gates to watch me wander by. The closer I got to the church the more enjoyable, even uplifting the walk became, and once I passed though the gates again it was so peaceful and quiet I felt almost as if I had come home. I found the guard and he embraced me like a long lost friend, and beamed from ear to ear nonstop as he looked back and forth at the several photos I gave him. I didn’t see the old nun but, with the help of another man who turned up with rudimentary English, asked the guard to give her the photos and the news about the eye surgeon. I wished I had bought my Kindle with me because it would have been so nice to linger under those trees in the late afternoon sun, read and rest for a while.

Days End
Back outside, not far from the church gate there was a collection of animals feeding on  leftover stalks of teff , most of which was stacked up in two huge piles. Standing with them in the warm sun were several men, so I went and stood with them too, and we watched the ox and the donkeys and mule, hardly talking, just enjoying the peace at the end of the day. A little over an hour later it was nearly dark as I got back to the flat and put the kettle on for a cup of tea. I felt relaxed and resored  by my walk and was looking forward to that cuppa, but I didn’t get to drink it till much later because the phone rang and Melkam said “Doctor there is one lady for ruptured uterus” 
(…to be continued)

1 comment:

  1. Well how would you feel if the damned Faranji shouted at you and you ran blind into a tree?
    No wonder they are poking you with sticks!
    Poor kids......