I am happy to report that, after a long stay in our inpatient ward, all of the children with burns from the tent fire were discharged home and are doing well. Unfortunately their mother, who we had transferred to a hospital in Quetta, passed away. The family is holding together, with uncles and aunties all helping them move forward. We provided them with a tent and various non-food items and collected some donations for food supplies that should last several weeks. It was great to see their smiling faces as they left the ward. We couldn’t speak to each other due to the language barrier but the simple gestures and smiles were all that was required.
I sit down to write my final blog and it is proving to be more difficult than I imagined. My time in Pakistan is almost up, however the wheels will keep turning. I arrived full of anticipation about a world that was foreign and uncertain to me. It has been a challenging experience and without a doubt one that I wouldn’t have gotten through without one thing: my team.
Stories of loss, tales of terror, another bomb blast, another kidnapping, children literally starving to death, all of these things would have taken their toll on me and sometimes it was difficult to see even a glimmer of hope. However I found it through the dedication of my national staff. They live with these struggles every day yet they still come to work and play their part in making a difference. I found hope in their faces as we would stay back after hours working on whatever needed to be finished by the next day. I found hope through them when they would challenge ideas and attempt to improve their practice and the inequalities that are ever-present.
I found hope in their dedication to their work. Many of them are working away from their families, for less money than they might be able to get somewhere else but they are there to help the people who need it. They are standing together to work for what they believe in and I have been lucky to work with them. I have been a mere page in a chapter of the book that is MSF in Pakistan and it reassures me to know that these people will continue to work for the people in need.
One question people often ask me is: “If you knew how it was going to be and what you were going to see, would you still have come?” My answer is definitely yes. Though there have been challenges, both expected and unexpected, the work being done here is valuable and the impact it has on people is undeniable.
During my final days in the field I became acutely aware of all the differences with life back home. I was walking from the hospital to the house and before I left the grounds there were two young boys filling up 20 litre jerrycans from a tap and loading them onto a rusty old wheelbarrow to take home. At the gates, a young girl aged about 4 years stopped in her tracks to stare at me – possibly the first person with white skin she had seen. Across the dusty street one goat jumped another to reach a higher perch on a low-lying mud wall which apparently served no purpose anymore.