feb 23. today, Friday, is the traditional muslim day of rest and the day off for this MSF project. however, there is little distinction between the work and any life outside of it. at 7 pm, we are still talking about the day that just passed, at 8 pm, our plans for tomorrow. it is our last words before sleep, and our first on awakening.
today, on my day off, I was woken by the nurse, andrea, from Switzerland.
I throw the mosquitoe net from my face, and abyei rushes in.
“you have to go the hospital. there has been an accident. six or so casualties.”
I had spent much of the night in the latrine or lying on the ground outside of it. my head was banging and unclear. I grabbed some water and tried to drink some on the way to the hospital.
within three minutes I was at the front doors, and pushed past the large crowd gathered around them. inside was no better. the difference was I was surrounded by men in military uniforms. one of their trucks had crashed into a car, then rolled over. six people were hurt, one of them run over by the wheels of the truck. another was badly injured by the glass. every time I tried to move from one room to another, to get some idea of how many patients we had, I had to negotiate a dozen shouting men and women.
the situation was quite tense. there were other injured people, from a different tribe, and a different area. at one point, I am told, someone pulled a knife. I didn’t see it. I was too busy examining and stitching and being dizzy. at one point, I found myself alone in a room with some of the militia who were insisting that their injured soldiers needed to be transferred to Khartoum. by airplane. I started to explain the difficulty, about how we transfer only if it is life threatening, and never to Khartoum. we simply can’t. they did not accept my explanation. I was well out of my league. thankfully, my field coordinator, fran, entered and assumed the role of negotiator, taking the heat off of me. I went back to splinting and sewing.
I returned back to the compound several hours later. I have just heard that the military has taken two patients from our hospital, and were taking them elsewhere. unhappily.
I am here now, typing in my tukul. it is 39 C in the shade, hotter in here.
I have been here for 2 days.
the girl I spoke of yesterday, the one with the noisy breathing, who sounded like each breath was her last, she is getting better. she breathes silently. when I waved hello, she ignored me. she is ten. that is normal. yesterday, she wouldn’t open her eyes.
the thing that has me terrified the most, since I received my briefing on my arrival, is not the political situation, nor the risk of getting ill myself, nor the remoteness, nor the lack of resources. it is that, on Fridays, our kitchen staff has the day off, and we must cook for ourselves. cooking is a thrill in [Toronto's] Kensington market. you can barely find the Jamaican allspice amidst all of the organic lemongrass. here in the local souk, well, there are tomatoes. onions. goat. ummmm… i’ll let you know.
I found out that an NGO nearby has wireless access, and that i can go sit in a car on the road, and use it. I hope it works. if it does, I encourage you to send me word if you can. it has been nice to hear from some of you through the blog. all the comments are forwarded to me. again, as usual, you can email me at the MSF satellite here in abyei.
may you all find some quiet this weekend.