Zakaria Mwatia is our base nurse. He is from Kenya and has worked in Sudan, Kenya and Somalia. He is deeply committed to his work and will always go the extra mile to do the right thing for patients. I often see Zak going back to the hospital after hours to check on this or that patient. He works with unfailing good humor, quiet diplomacy and is always willing to help me learn in this new environment where innovation and adaptation are the watchwords of survival.
Here are just some of the things that I learned from Zak:
1. How to successfully incise and drain almost any pocket of pus.
2. How to make a cast with an open window in the plaster designed to permit wound dressing of exposed fractures.
3. How to make an inhalation mask out of a hard plastic IV bag.
4. How to rig up skin traction for fractures using a pulley and a bag of stones.
5. How to successfully use an old style fetal stethoscope that is made from metal and shaped like a trumpet.
6. How to pack a gun shot wound.
7. How to debride a burn without wasting a scalpel blade.
8. How to reduce a child’s rectal prolapse and dress it so that it does not recur.
9. How to recognize and avoid scorpions, sand flies and tsetse flies.
10. How to kill a snake
Below: Zak at work in Tukul 1