In less than 24 hours I will be on my way back to the village of Loborsoit, Tanzania where, last year, I was privileged to help staff a small clinic in the remote African bush, in an area that suffers immensely from lack of medical services.
Illnesses and infections go undiagnosed and untreated. Injuries go untended. This is what the people there have come to expect.
|This man suffered an untreated open fracture of his right tibia/fibula|
4 months before he came in to have it checked.
For few days we will set up a clinic where we will see anyone and everyone who arrives at our doorstep.
When we can, we will provide a course of medication to treat their illnesses and we'll patch up their injuries the best we can. We'll send everyone off with a couple of weeks worth of vitamins. And we'll teach them what we can about nutrition, sanitation, and why clean water is so important to them.
Does it make any difference? Does it help them at all? Well, yes and no. No, we won't cure many of them. The intestinal parasites will come back. Their joints will still ache. The vitamins will run out. For the most part life, as hard as it is, will go on for them as it always has...with one difference.
They are going to remember us. They'll know that we came back because we care about them. And they know we'll come back again.
We will welcome, encourage, and instruct them. We will strengthen the bond of friendship we share, solidify our commitment to them, and sketch out our path forward. This will lay the foundation for healing. So, yes--it does make a difference.
When I started this blog last year I titled it "Cherished Illusions" because I didn't want to go into this experience with unrealistic expectations. I was painfully aware of the negative ramifications of extending aid to indigenous cultures in third world countries. There are political, economic, and social arguments against it. Check out:
Still, who can argue against the healing power of compassion? Who would oppose the guarantee of individual rights? Who would deny another human being adequate food, clean water, education, and access to medical care?
This year my theme for this blog might be "wishful thinking," or perhaps "hopeful optimism." I'm optimistic that we will bring healing and relief to at least some of the people we see. But I wish we could stay longer and accomplish even more.
One thing is certain. We will do what we can, with what we have, where we are sent...and the universe, or destiny, or fortune, or God will have to take it from there.
"Without suffering there is no compassion,
and without compassion there is no hope."
If you'd like to follow us on our journey, the team will be blogging at http://www.discovermissions.wordpress.com while we're away. I'll post from my personal journal when we return on Sept. 7th. Wish us luck...