Well it’s Sunday again here in sunny Mattar! It’s been a pretty hot week both in weather and mood. The realization of not being able to get out or in has finally dawned and the mood is somber. I only did two clinics last week and after doing the monthly stats yesterday I found we had a record low attendance for the month. After the past two months with consecutive highs it’s pretty disappointing.
But I’m calm and over it. I gave up a week or so ago and have come to terms with this crappy situation. So here’s some funny stuff, well I think it’s funny.
On Friday I went to Moun with the new head of health authorities – a very large Nuer man with the definitive six cut scars on his forehead and a crazy left eye that leaves you wondering just where he’s looking exactly. He started the conversation:
“Your Nuer name is Nyabuoy, do you know what that means?”
“Yes: bright light”
“That’s correct but it also means light of heart and caring”
“Oh, that’s nice”
“Well if you were light of heart and caring you would give me some gum boots!”
I gently explained how the boots we have had taken three months to receive and were for those who had to mobilize for “patient care”. He went on to ask why I brought a bottle of water for myself and not anyone else. I explained it was my bottle I’d filled from the tap and that if he wanted water he could have brought some himself. He continued:
“You see my eye?”
“Yes, you have a cataract”
“Yes, I need an operation; you can send me to Addis for the operation”
“MSF only do “emergency surgery” that’s not an emergency, half the population have a cataract, I actually have one myself. And I will get it fixed when I get home”
“How much does it cost in Australia for the surgery?”
“About $2000, but there is a long waiting list, that’s why I’m here, I have to wait 6 months”.
“I could come to Australia and have the surgery, you could sponsor me”
At Moun he asked me if I was in the military
“No, definitely not”
“Are you sure, in this country someone as big as you cannot walk so far or carry so much unless they are in the military”
“Really? No I’ve never been in the military”
“Have you ever shot some one? Killed them?”
“NO! I’d never sleep again if I did”
“Oh, I have. I was in the military and I have been trained how to hunt down a man and kill him. You never shot a person? What about if someone came in your home?”
“If I killed someone in Australia, even if they were breaking into my house, I would go to jail, that’s the law”
“Mmm that’s a stupid law, would you hit them with a stick?”
“Yes, if they broke into my house, I’d hit them with a stick, but if I killed them I would go to jail”
“Are you sure you never been in the military? I think you have”
“No, I don’t want to hurt anyone, that’s why I’m in MSF, to help people”
Back in the car on the way back he decided to sit up front with me. Squashed in, him 6 foot 4 and solid and big and fat, me, plus the driver in the front of the land cruiser. The conversation goes on:
“You like children?” Some were running out waving as they do each time we pass on the way to the clinic.
“Yes they are beautiful kids”
“Do you have children?”
“Yes I have a son. He’s as big as you”
“How old is he?”
“What? You lie!”
“No really, he’s 25!”
“How old are you then?”
“You LIE, you are lying to me! You are like Bush the American president”
“WHAT??? What do you mean?”
By this time I was totally exasperated and had no idea what the hell was going on. Besides the driver was giggling like a school boy!
“You are a very political person”
“No, no I’m not. Why are you saying that? And anyway Bush is in his 60s”
“You are very political! Can I have your pen? I need that pen”
My head was swimming and the driver was now in tears of laughter. By the time I left my new friend, he had asked for fish from our freezer, beer we have in our fridge, some books we use for registration and a mosquito net!