Day 60 - 29th April 2019
Going to the toilet at night on the clinic is somewhat like a scene from the Mission Impossible films. One has to creep under the mosquito net and feel one’s way around the pitch black room. Your sense of touch and previous memory of the room come to play. Other members of the team are asleep under their net and would not appreciate a loud stumble in the dark. Moving fans, rope and the sink are to name a few of the obstacles one must avoid to get to the toilet itself.
Well tonight I had successfully and quietly manoeuvred my way to the toilet. However just before entering I caught a glimpse of the night sky. My first emotion weirdly was worry. I saw the natural spectacle as something totally unnatural. Mesmerised and awe stricken I had a feeling that I was sinking through space. I grabbed onto something, I couldn’t take my eyes off the sky. Low light pollution had lead to this wonderful sight. As if silver had been splattered on a black void. There were more stars than when I had been on the river. I was surrounded by darkness, sounds of crickets and splashing of water. Forgetting why I even left my bed, I was taken back to an animalistic state, a state my ancient ancestors would have felt whilst probably doing the same thing.
Day 61 - 30th April 2019
Today we set up our clinic on land – a first for me. We rode the boat onto the bank of the lake in a village, exposed currently due to the dry season. As a team we carried boxes, chairs and tables through greenery into a premade makeshift wooden shack. People soon arrived and we treated them.
In the afternoon we saw patients on our usual floating clinic and after closing time we visited some of the villagers who lived on the bank. The poverty was very visible her. Pollution was evident too. Plastic bottles, metal tins and whatever else made up bits of the ground. Men played cards under tents, women cared for children and children ran around playing with whatever they could find.
On face value, people here seemed happy. I guess they had a community, food wasn’t sometimes enough but they make did with fishing, and they worked everyday. Those who were very weak - died and those who were well - worked. We were greeted warmly on our walk. We met patients with interesting conditions such as Pott's syndrome, a girl who didn’t have PIP joints in her fingers and another girl with congenital heart disease.
These people were living a very basic life, far far away from stock markets, satellites and X factor. It was nice seeing children playing and families out. But it was also some of the poorest people I had ever seen. I learnt that being poor didn’t necessarily equal unhappy, that was the wrong way to think about it. Being poor reduced quantity and quality of life, opportunities and freedom. But people here were ignorant of the outside world. Their minds were occupied with survival, there was no time to ponder.