AMPHS's co-founder and director of its international division shares some words about the pilot trip
04.06.2011 - 07.06.2011
Sara: I spoke at a town hall meeting yesterday in Esse, saying that we have a long of work ahead of us, but it's a journey we'll take together. The people presented us with gifts. Each of us received a gorgeous wooden statue. Nemahun and I received traditional dresses, and Alex got a Samuel Eto'o jersey. I'm not sure why the other three didn't get some other gift. In both Ribang and Esse, there have been celebrations with music and dancing with wildly girating hips. It's been a lot of fun, and we've all participated. The people of Esse also cooked a huge feast for us yesterday, which was delicious. We were careful about what we ate, but they prepared it specially for us with an awareness of how to prevent foreigners from getting sick.
There's one observation that strikes me in particular: pregnancy is Russian roulette here. Women and their babies die because of fistula, eclampsia, and other labor complications because they cannot reach the hospital. Someone told us a story the other day of bringing a woman in labor to the hospital in a wheelbarrow. Frequently, people, with a range of conditions, die en route to the hospital because there is no medical transportation.
We're sleeping in sleeping bags at Samy's house. He's a doctor in a public hospital in Ngomou, a village near Yaounde. He's been extremely hospitable to us. Samy runs a charity in Cameroon that assists the disabled. He's also really jacked, so he can scare off anyone who tries to mess with us, not than anyone has. But he comes with us most days anyway with his friend Dupre, who is similarly jacked. We went to Samy's hospital three days ago. Apparenly the Cameroonian government has a program that provides free curative medication for children ages 0-5 with malaria. Some of the hospitals here have no electricity. Samy's does, but we visited a hospital near Esse yesterday without it. This means that they cannot store certain medications and reagents for lab tests.
Whatever discomfort we're experiencing from traveling abroad, it is difficult to get upset about it when we're around people who experience this to a much more severe extent every single day.