Long Days and Long Nights

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The first thing I feel when I wake up is a mixture of anxiety and motivation. My body is willing to start the day but my mind knows what it will be put through and is apprehensive.

As soon as we arrive a crowd of people are awaiting and I soon get distracted. The cold, everyone is so cold. I have never seen people with a temperature as low as these. A steady throng of people come and go, a teenage boy travelling without his family who has had cancer, fears it might be back. After an examination, I fear it too.

What can I do? Very little. I write a letter and tell him to show it to anyone who will take the time to read it.

Dear (anyone out there) please help.

It’s all I can do.

The project is growing and growing each day, it is attracting a lot of attention and we are receiving donations, supplies and practitioners. We have bought diagnostic equipment today, which will monitor oxygen levels and blood pressure. We have also bought another 22 tents today with sleeping bags and blankets.

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As I work through the crowd along with the other volunteers I realize that it is the non medical actions which make the biggest impact on people – giving a toothbrush and toothpaste to a mother for her child, clean underwear and hygiene products to a young girl who is bleeding, food and water for a breast feeding mother, socks for babies and shoes for men, a smile, a hello, a hug.

Another day of advocacy. Another day of responsibility weighing heavily on my shoulders as I feel the pleading eyes of families who need someone to negotiate their safe passage onwards. When a sick family were registered and allowed into the area for vulnerable people, I trembled with relief.

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Walking down the track back to our base, I blinked back the tears. A boy shouted after me, I recognized him. He was the friend of the boy who I fear has a recurrence of cancer. He informed me that his friend had showed the letter and has been fast tracked onwards.

Tears streamed down my face, the boy backed away not knowing what to do and we both laughed.

The long day turned into a long night with heart breaking stories and happy stories.

By Sarah Entwistle

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