Below is Maddy's note to the home-bound AMPHS-ers about how Cameroon has changed her
02.06.2011 - 17.06.2011
Here is a little update about the trip.
This trip has been the most incredible experience. We have gotten to meet so many incredible people and travel to so many interesting places. I think it is been eye-opening for all of us to see how others live. None of us will ever take things like beds, food, electricity, or running water for granted again.
We travel to villages most days where we collect information related to the community's health problems. The work we're doing is meaningful but exhausting because it is just so sad. Yesterday, I met a pregnant 11-year-old and a woman with 7 toes on each foot. In one village all of the men were traveling to the cities, cheating on their wives, getting chlamydia and then bringing it back to their wives in the villages. It's horrible...but it makes me feel good to know we can help them and maybe improve their quality of life even just a little bit.
I've been getting to speak a ton of French, which has been exciting, and I am finally putting that public health education to use. We have faced quite a few hurtles while here, such as breaking ties with Sylvestre and dealing with blatent sexism, expensive transportation, scheduling difficulties, among other problems, but as a group we have been able to overcome them and it has forced us to become closer than ever.
We're still having a great time, but I think people are definitely starting to miss first-world comforts. The tile floor we sleep on does not make the most comfortable bed. And as fun as bucket showers were in the beginning, I know I personally would kill for a real shower.
Today, Kelly, Lindsay, and I learned how to make soap from a missionary so that we can teach the villagers and they in turn can sell the soap at the market to support themselves. But the thing that I am most excited about right now is a surgery scheduled for next week. We met this little girl in one of the villages last week who had a very serious hernia from birth. She was a little more than a year old and was suffering from constant pain and intestinal problems. The doctor told us that the problems would only continue in the future, leading to expensive medical bills, constant health problems, and potential social exile. After meeting her, I cried on the bus home because I was so moved. This is a condition that can be easily fixed with surgery, but her family just couldn't afford it. I decided then and there I needed to pay for the surgery. What seemed like an unimaginable sum to this family is really nothing in our world. We scheduled the surgery at the hospital in Ngoumou and next week this little girl will get the treatment she deserves.
It's things like that that make it worth being here, seeing the good that you can bring to someone's life...We wish you were here and cannot wait to get back and tell you every detail! enjoy the rest of June! xoxo Maddy