march 8. thursday. day two of the measles campaign. we are hoping for some bounce from the undetermined electorate, particularly the hard to reach 5 year olds. you never can tell with them. they play their cards close to their chests. will they vote measle?
passed some of the queues on my way to the hospital yesterday, families standing outside in the hot sun, voting measle. we had some late night drama the night before with our newly trained local vaccinating team. they demanded more money. our field coordinator had played this game before. "those who want to leave can…we’ll pause the campaign, tell the community you don't want to do it, and train others. no problem." yesterday morning, they were all sweating with the patients, jabbing thin arms.
the malnutrition screening is not going as smoothly as we would like. it is difficult to incorporate. all of them have their upper arms measured. if they fall below a certain range, they are weighed (screaming) and then (screaming) measured in a larger version of the slide rule that the shoe store guy uses to measure feet. the severely malnourished, less than 70% their minimum weight for height, are brought to hospital and fed. 71% and above, no.
there are so many children, it is sure we are missing a few. yesterday i admitted only three for feeding. today might tell a different story. on the brighter side, we have the necessary y-shaped sticks.
last night the emergency team was disheartened. the day was chaotic, crowd control was a problem, we had brought water for the staff but forgot to bring some for the patients and families in the long lines. one needs to be efficient and careful in the execution of such a massive endeavour because if you lose the favour of the community, your numbers fall off.
I told the team, as far as i was concerned, it was already a success. hundreds of kids will never, ever get measles. sure, some of enthusiasm is altruistic, but some is purely selfish. we don’t need 100 cases of measles in the hospital. so whether it happens in an orderly way, people in rod straight lines with smiles and sleeves rolled up, or if you have to run around in the middle of the market vaccinating everyone you see using some type of rapid fire blow dart scenario, it will be a success.
the coordinator still isn’t eating. i told him if he doesn’t, i am going to put him in the feeding centre and feed him plumpYnut.
this morning, at 630, i woke up for a run. it is my only oblique entry in an otherwise linear day. my path is from the compound to the hospital. 460 paces to it in the morning, 480 on the return (so hot). i have seen very little of the countryside. i have been to the local souk three or four times for hibiscus tea, or to buy some soap. it is lively, full of white robed men and children careening on bicycles, the chants of the bilal, mounds of beans on mounds of beans. i need to spend more time there. need to fall in love with this place.
as it is, security remains high. our compound sits directly between 4 disparate military groups. our hospital abuts one. until recently, we had soldiers barracks on our property. only last week, we built a fence to ensure we are separate. it is a priority for us to be neutral. for the sake of our patients, so that they feel safe whether they are dinka or misseria, soldier or civilian, nomad or farmer. but not just that. for our security as well. already all accuse us of aligning with the other side. as i have mentioned before, abyei is the canary in the mine shaft. or perhaps, more aptly, the oil well. it is the point in bridge to peace that must bear the entire load for it to happen. i don’t know. for now that means i must have a radio with me at all times, and cannot be out past 8 pm in the market. armed drunken soldiers are three words that are uncomfortable enough to put together in a sentence let alone at the dead end tof a wrong turn in a dark market. we try to make sure our staff represents all members of the community. and, sadly, we are not allowed to go to the UN social club. completely non-partisan, we stay independent and sweat in our tukul.
off to the hospital. 480 paces. i am a bit fatigued. i am trying to schedule a meeting with the dog that lives behind our grass fence. i am going to try and explain that whatever point he is trying to get across, all night every night, is as clear as it is going to get. insistence will not help me, nor anyone else, understand it. perhaps a different approach, maybe with only an occasional bark, would provide more effect.