Day 11 – 11th March 2019
Monday and off to the lake clinic this time, not river. 6.15am journey begins, stethoscope on someone’s chest by 1pm. A five-hour drive and then a two-hour boat ride to our destination – an abandoned primary school. I saw some of the poorest people on this planet today. Tinned roof, houses on stilts, the whole house as large as my parents’ bedroom. And there is where families ate, raised their young, slept and where couples made love. In one house I saw a father and child laughing till their stomachs hurt whilst swinging on a hammock in their living room, their only room. Really puts the ‘living’ in living room.
A girl walked in, quiet and stood by the doctor looking down at the ground. Her friends were pointing at her left arm. When asked her name she quietly whispered it whilst maintaining poor eye contact. Her left arm exposed finger marks causing her pain. She has no mother. Three siblings all of who were boys. And a drunken father. Her legs revealed slap and pinch marks, some old and some new. When asked about sexual abuse she did not reply. The village chief told us the police knew about the father. The medical team looked hopelessly at her. She looked hopelessly at the floor.
Day 12 – 12th March 2019
The lake was especially beautiful today. During dawn and dusk, the long boats cut through the shimmering chrome surface. Magnificent cranes soared above whilst smaller sparrows darted around the surface. We passed villages slowly and the locals fixed their gaze on us, more through curiosity than anything else.
We stopped by one of many tinned roofed houses on stilts. Here I was told lived a couple who had to be transported to the main hospital due to third degree burns. The man was treated conservatively. His wife however had to have her little right toe amputated due to injury to the bone due to burns. The couple left the hospital earlier than advised most likely due to cost.
I walked in trying to mind my head on the low wooden beams. Pictures of the Buddha were hung above. Children playing to the left of me. And in the second room, the woman was lying down in visible agony. Cachexic, she hadn’t had a proper drink of water for a while. A dirty piece of gauze covered the are where her little toe would have been. She complained of abdominal pain. I looked at the wound which looked black and infected. Examination revealed renal angle tenderness. I concluded she needed redressing, pain relief and antibiotics. Above all she needed clean drinking water. After supplying the medication, dressing, and clean water we explained to the family what was needed to be don. She warranted hospital admission, scans, IV antibiotics and fluids and adequate pain relief. However, the family didn’t want to go back. I hoped the infection would not spread. I hoped that she got better.