Thursday, April 30, 2009


It’s been so long since I’ve written here. My friend Jim wrote over on his blog that after a long time, coming back to writing to attack the big stories or events or thoughts is difficult, if not impossible. Which is my sorry excuse for this long absence. How do I fill in the gaps from the past months?

Our Book Keeper, Musa, died of a stroke, suddenly and unexpectedly. I turned 23 the next day. A patient gave birth to twins and once the stress of her pregnancy subsided, she stopped leaking urine. An employee celebrated her engagement to our landlord with a traditional ceremony that included the presentation of kola nuts, envelopes of cash handed out to the many relatives of the bride, and three decoy brides before the entrance of the genuine article. We took the patients to an orphanage for Easter and had a “lolly hunt” and kite flying and dancing and singing. We hired a third driver, an administrator, a nursing director. We are in the process of hiring an accountant. I stopped my work as the Acting Administrator and took over as the Acting Finance Officer. I crunch numbers, I think.

Dr. Maggi came and many operations were done and hordes of patients sent home dry or to wait for more complicated surgery. We renovated a ward for skills training and as a living area for those few patients that have become part of our staff. The pump that WAFF donated to the hospital broke. The garden dried up. When the water truck breaks down, the patients carry water from the hand pump installed near our office, which means that they pop their heads in and ask, while watching me read the paper online, whether the pictures of New York Times Op-Ed columnists are of members of my family. The volunteers found a new walk across scorched fields and through tunnels of green thickets to a tiny village close enough to the road that we could hear trucks rushing by on their way to Freetown but remote enough that we were unsure how the nine-months pregnant woman we met would ever make it to a hospital when she went into labor. Many volunteers came and went and are still asked after now that they are gone.

I was bitten by countless mosquitoes, awakened by countless mice, tempted to pet countless dogs. I hit a rooster with a pillow after it crowed too early too near my window. It was the burning season, and I awoke from an afternoon sleep more than once to flames reaching higher than our wall, stopped only by a short stretch of road, taking trees and leaving termite mounds, driving mice and snakes into the safety of concrete houses. It was the first straining moments of the rainy season and I sweated through my clothes several times, waiting in the blackouts for rain to come as a relief to the dusty wind, to the unbearable heat, to the thick humidity, only to be disappointed day after day. It rained and kept me from sleeping as the drops pounded the zinc roof until it sounded like a flood would wash us away. It has not rained since and the strain has returned.

Everything moves along much as it did before, with new things flaring up here and there, with things coming together and falling apart. Things are as they are. Ideas become projects become accomplishments, or they shrivel while still ideas or fail as projects or are shuffled off before they can reach the stage of being termed accomplishments. Patients, staff, and volunteers come and go. I will be one of the ones going, after some time in Morocco. In a month, I will be home.

No comments:

Post a Comment