Sunday, October 30, 2011

Women's Health Day

“I see their humanity”

-Charity Watson, Think Humanity

On Thursday October 27, 2011, Think Humanity its first Women’s Health Day. We brought 21 women from Kyangwali Refugee Settlement to be treated at our clinic. Well, we thought 21 were coming, but of course nothing is ever as planned in Africa – or in life… with 2 extra plus 4 children, our total was 27, with 3 men in the mix. We had worked with a local pastor in the refugee settlement to bring those who really needed treatment – and all those who came, women and men, were badly off.

You see, yes, the refugee settlement has a clinic, but they can receive upwards of 200 patients a day. They are not adequately staffed and equipped for those numbers. And they don’t give people the treatment they need. They don’t LISTEN to what is wrong. The clinical officers start writing before the patient can even explain – fever, chills, aches – Next. So, the patients get malaria meds and panadol (painkillers) and are sent home. No one ever investigates what is actually going on. So they go home and let the diseases and problems fester a little longer. Get a little more complicated. Maybe get a few more to add to the mix. And the patients all too often cannot do anything. They have children, homes – they dig in the garden every day so they can at least make some money – But not enough money to pay the transport to the nearest town, much less pay for treatment at a clinic there.

So that’s what we’re trying to do. Find out what is ACTUALLY wrong and then treat it – to listen to the patients- To get the lab tests that need to be done. But, it takes time. It takes time to translate back and forth and forth and back. I cannot translate. I cannot treat. I help where I can. I talk to people about preventative health – you can treat someone for a disease, but they must be EDUCATED, otherwise they return home and get it again. But how can I educate when people are in pain? When first, they just need treatment.

Typhoid. Brucellosis. Syphilis. Malaria. STIs. UTIs. Infected Wounds. Swelling. Cysts. Possible cancer….

Most with a combination of 3 or 4. Literally people’s bodies breeding grounds for disease. I can’t help but want to wash my hands every 5 minutes. To bathe in hand sanitizer.

But when I look into someone’s eyes – ah the eyes truly are the windows to the soul. I see their pain. I see their humanity. I see that they are no different than I. That we are on this earth together. So I do what I can. I use the Kinyabwisha/Kinyarwanda that I know – because at least they can laugh at me butchering the language. I carry a baby on my back. I get water – food – for otherwise they’ll just go the whole day without eating and drinking. I drive patients to get ultrasound and x-ray (Not sure I will EVER drive here again).

But for the true work done I am so grateful…the doctors – the nurses - everyone who helped to translate – they worked so hard to make sure these people got actual treatment. And they are still working hard, as treatment continues for many of the patients. But, there is always hope. People are getting better, gahoro gahoro.

There will always be hope as long as we see each other. We don’t all have to love everyone, we don’t have to go to far away countries – we just need to see one another. To see someone’s eyes. To see the humanity in them.

Women's Health Day

Think Humanity USA
2880 Spring Mountain Dr.
Loveland, CO 80537 USA (970) 667-9335/214-1299
Isaka Kijungu –Military Rd.
P.O. Box 219
Hoima, Uganda 0782170643 or 0790910221

Think Humanity is a registered 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. Our federal tax identification number is 26-1635429

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