Outreach, rugby training and a miracle
MSF outreach
MSF outreach

MSF outreach

Tuesday is day one at the gym with our "outreach" coordinator. He's the captain of the local rugby team and they train hard. I'm pleased with my work, but they other guys at the gym are beasts.

Wednesday is another first for me; we do some "outreach" where we take the Landcruiser, some posters and leaflets and visit a community outside the town centre about our clinic. The local councilor has invited us and introduces us to the crowd who gather and listen intently. They nod their heads and are impressed to hear our services are free - hospitals charge money here, for entry, for X-rays, for each night, everything has a cost. But we even pay bus fairs and any hospital fees associated with our services. I can tell the people are impressed as the megaphone is passed between the boss and our Papua New Guinean rugby captain. We end with questions and there are many, I mingle and field a few. I try to speak as clear as a Glaswegian accent can be, but there is no need. Many of the villagers speak excellent English and engage in debate about the causes of domestic violence. Everyone has informed opinions and a story to tel. I am humbled by their stories. I am asked about our counseling which one elder gentleman is very enthusiastic about and I talk about the problems of getting patients back, as we know many come to us in secret, fearful of what their partners may do if they talk to others about their experiences.

Later I learn the story of the day. A "miracle" no less: at 2am on Tuesday night a patient in the hospital died and was taken to the morgue. She awoke at 6am (presumably somewhat surprised). She is now a minor celebrity. I doubt the doctors are offering any alternative theories to the "miracle".

Later that day I go running, it is tough in the heat but I manage 30 minutes. "Go Chris" a guy shouts as I run past. I don't know him, but it seems word get round town quick about anyone new in town!

Thursday I am organising the facilities for some Post-Exposure Prophylactic (anti-HIV treatment program) training that MSF and the World Health Organisation are putting on for both hospital and MSF clinic staff. On the way to the training room I see that a missing part of the elevated walkways between the wards is being replaced. The air is filled with a white dust. Immediately recognising what is going on I hold my breath for as long as possible as the asbestos cloud passes over me and get funny looks from hospital staff as I gasp for air after passing the walkway.