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!