Final goodbyes

I always find it difficult to know how to begin to end something. I’m not good with goodbyes...

I always find it difficult to know how to begin to end something. I’m not good with goodbyes. Somehow I worry that I won’t do justice to the importance of the experience. My time here is coming to an end. So I will share one last story of courage, resilience and faith amongst heartache, trauma and injustice.

There is a baby that has captured my heart. Etched in my memory are his beautiful, big, brown eyes and the sound of his giggle the first time I met him.

He is a fighter if ever I saw one. Against all odds he remains with us as I leave. So many people were sceptical as to whether he’d make it this far.

But he has. His condition has led to multiple admissions in our MSF hospital. In our first few interactions he smiled and interacted so beautifully. Now I see the pain in his eyes.

He has no more energy left to laugh. I can see as the baby gets weaker, so does his mother. Or is it the other way round? The two are so intimately linked it’s hard to tell. The mother describes her exhaustion – physical and emotional. Her love for her baby is intense. She has lost three children before this, and carries her love for them in every interaction she has with her only surviving child. She has never given up, but she is honest enough to say the thought has crossed her mind. The family continue to seek the medical treatment they can afford, although it is an exhausting and frustrating process leaving them feeling helpless and despondent. They live from day-to-day, with no extra money left over for complex medical care. They are grateful that MSF offers free care, but acknowledge our limits. The little fighter keeps on fighting, as do his parents.

Despite what people say, Pakistan is not a bad place, nor are its people. Its landscapes, weather, people and languages are as diverse as I have ever seen. Is it dangerous at times? Yes. Frustrating? To the core. But mostly it’s just confusing.

I’ve spoken to many friends and colleagues who have returned home after their first mission. For many it seems almost as difficult as leaving home in the first place. I’m looking forward to seeing my family and friends. And I’m looking forward to sleep. I’m not, however, looking forward to the feelings of longing. Longing to be in a place that, despite its contradictions, has captured my heart and a little of my soul.

Allah Hafiz Quetta. Shukria.