Bahai beach

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Bahai Beach 9

Bahai Beach 9

Desert thought raising aftermath.

Hawks a plenty… about 3 thousand of them. It can not be the one donkey lying rotting in the wadi. Explanations range from Convention on Black Hawk down, yearly mating ceremony to a Rave for Confused Hawks. However it may be it is an impressive sight to see these mighty birds circle around. I am holding my heart as after about 10 days I am expecting 5 chicklets to be popping out of the eggs and they are edible for these flying rovers.
Yesterday night was yet another laughable event. As our guards tend to sleep at night we invented a reverse guarding system whereby all the expatriates take shifts to be awake to ensure the guards do not fade away. Long pokes and buckets of waters to ensure their collaboration. In case of sleepiness photos are taken and the most eloquently sleeping guard shall win the Sleepy Guard of the Month Award (so far three candidates)
The way to the camp (25 kilometers) has changed over a week. It is green-green-grass with stretches of sand in between. All goats and birds are having a field day, storks (hence the birth explosion), herons and kakatoos. It is surreal to see camels go through the Dutch green fields. The wadi is teeming with life, frogs, snakes and perhaps fish.
Reinforcements are due. A Doctor Pounce has been localized and he is willing to leave ihis snuggly Brazzaville house to move over and reinforce our hospital team. The local Medical District Officer has disappeared from the face of the earth but this way at least I am not the only doctor in the entire region. We send about 25 people to the hospital for treatment and diagnosis ranging from difficult pregnancies (echo available) to premature babies, malnourished kids, stroke patients, hepatitis cases, meningitis cases, malaria cases, elephantiasis case to difficult deliveries. The Chadian doctors in the mean time seem evasive. Even an interview in Abeche (the third largest city around) seems to be to much effort. I am afraid once they see the reality of the field they will turn around and leave. Honestly I can not completely blame them. Life is expensive here, with little to nothing to do and even the local population seems to be slowly moving on to places where there is more water. Even the sturdy nomads here are running into problems. If not through the conflicts (Chadian and Sudanese) then through the arid conditions. Our lab technician in the mean time is awaiting his contract. Administrative procedures take its due time here and in the mean time the hospital and camp will just have to be without. The region has been without for 6 months anyway.
Because of concerted efforts of the NGO’s, mainly the IRC the hospital is slowly getting on its feet again, just praying for Ministry of Health involvement and commitment as well. Nowadays our vehicles are full of patients we take to and fro. The peeps in the camp seem to get the message that there is a second tier of care out there and they are starting to present to our Health Post and Health Center. Sometimes a sad story may find at least a small solution. One of the female refugees who has breast cancer and delivered an anencephalic child 2 weeks ago is allowed to go to N Djamena to meet an oncologist there. Even if the treatment is only palliative. I can not do anything for a 5 kilo breast in terms of pain control, nor proper diagnosis or treatment. Chemotherapy in the desert is far far away. I feel humbled when the husband profusely thanked me today. As he said after the Government of Sudan bombed their house and they had to flee Sudan chased by the Janjaweed the had nothing left. He was counting on our generosity. Generally for an NGO taking care of chronic cases/cancer is not within the mandate/budget but for this lady I became a knucklehead on a crusade and let us hope that at least something comes out of it for her. As because of Machavellian powerplay I may be with her in N Djamena to ensure a proper hand over to the oncologist. At the same time I may visit our young friend who lost a leg due to a camel kick.
The camp lies under multiple threats; infectious; malaria, meningitis, cholera, security; the region is still heating up, water security; still less water then last year and this year we ran out in July. Also a dam has been built upstream.
We have a new temporary Congolese kick ass (rightly called Gang not Ganga) as Field Coordinator in place who is teaching me valuable lessons. If you are a knucklehead at least follow your bosses instructions on what to do and then inform her/him about the extra’s you will do that day/week. Plan ahead. Work and play hard. Communicate at all times. I guess desert whispers are teaching me lessons. By now our departures to the camp are at 08.10 sharp, people are taking initiative and responsibility in the team, slacking is no longer tolerated but also rest is an essential in a trying environment. In a way the 5 prayers a day that my colleagues here follow are an inspiration. Five moments in the day to reflect on ourselves and the relationship with the Allmighty or the surrounding nature.
The guard is awake doing his duty to switch off the generator. May I write two pieces this week? We shall see ?
Try and post a comment if you would. I am thinking of all of you and the kids popping out left and right.



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