I guess the stuff that really makes me know why I'm here, is the laughter. I laugh a lot with the patients, staff and expats. And so despite the language barrier, cultural gulf and the fact that no one can know what's really lost in translation, we share the joke.
What's no joke though is the handsome salt and peppered young man who came in this week with a gunshot to the head. An entrance wound between the forehead, the bullet makes it way through toward his right temporal area and exited beside his right eye. About 10mm away from a lucky miss. Skull fracture, pupils blown, not reactive to light. In our beautiful blistering tent, amidst a gallery, we stabilized him and sent him immediately to the nearest referral Hospital in Zalingei. There we have other MSF teams supporting the hospital and they kindly accept the cases we cannot handle that need surgery. He is one of the many this month that have come in with a gunshot, but his misfortune is at the hand of another. Most others just wobble in because they have shot themselves accidentally while cleaning the killing machine. Accidentally does not make it less violent, does it? Just silly I guess. There are just too many guns about. An incredulous ridiculous reminder lest I forget that I'm in Darfur.
What's really concerning though is the epidemic of falling off donkeys. Not so funny at all I promise. My not so funny stories are endless! The woman who has 9 kids still alive after 12 previous pregnancies comes in on Friday after being in labour at home for far too long. She not progressing well in labour and her 'whip thin' uterus needs help to contract. I can't give her the magic potion of oxytocin in case she ruptures that well worn womb that bears a new child. So I send her too to Zalingei, in a rented car on a rough and rutted road. That's surely a recipe for her to deliver on the road. However it's the same brutal, grueling road trip that protects us here in the dulled spotlighted Darfur. The population of Serif Umra know well that we do what we can at the petite dispensary and acknowledge our own cognisance of needing to do a bit more (even if it is the deserted desert) by sending patients further down the tortured road for a life saving intervention. We do what we can here, everyday I try to push the envelope but I guess neither is the answer. The answer is to balance being here for the population of Serif Umra and trying to support the staff here to always be here for the population.