African routine...

October 24, 2013

I'll start with some good news: All the children that were operated are fine and doing well, most of them are also awake and responding and even got lollypops first thing in the morning when we arrived:-) I'm glad to report that I visited Shabani today in the pediatric ward (The boy I attended his surgery, see the post: Saving a child's heart in African reality) and he is doing great. His biggest bother right now is the infusion needle in his vain, you can see his mom smiling in relief behind him, saying :”May these be our problems from now.”

Oh, and the lights in the clinic got fixed! No need for holding up our iPhones anymore! :-)

 

It's amazing how one can get into a routine anywhere. I wake up in the morning and immediately turn on the dribbling leakage called a shower, because it takes a few minutes to get hot water, In the meantime I brush my teeth, and think how in the first day I was warned to use mineral water also for that, and I feel have reckless half brave for not doing so, I go down to the cafeteria, to the same corner near the electricity socket, and hook up my computer to check email, and upload these blogs, then the team starts to arrive to breakfast, and these people who some of them I only met on the flight here, have become friends of mine, and I have a different dynamic with each and every one of them, I have my toast with butter (no cheese here), salad (that looks like it was made yesterday) and filter coffee (that resembles tea more than coffee), then the bus arrives and we set on our way to hospital, I remember my first day here and how some things seemed either appalling or magical, and how with time everything comes back into proportion, and turns into mundane reality. Here I am, on my forth day in this hospital, I already know the local staff, I don't get shocked seeing flies in the surgery room or cockroaches around the wards, and I don't judge the way things are done, these people are doing the best they can, the best they know how to, and they are thirsty to learn, and I see them drinking up every word that comes out from the mouths of the Wolfson medical team, doctors, surgeons, nurses and technicians, and those give their knowledge happily in return.

My singing friend Maria was already sitting in the hall outside when I arrived and she leaped into my arms cheerfully, this girl who has a heart condition, plus a serious sight problem, and what seems like a slight mental challenge, in short she has enough on her plat to deal with, but she's so full of joy and fragility that it makes her completely irresistible, and she paved an 8 lane highway straight into my heart. She promised she would sing more for me later in the day. I go into the clinic and set up the computer to start the day, kids and parents start streaming in, Dr. Raucher, together with her irreplaceable right hand - nurse Nava Gershon, starts her examinations. Dr. Godwin and Dr. Sasson and their teams are downstairs in the surgery room, setting up for first operation of the day, and things are ticking in our African daily routine.

Save a Child's Heart has been doing these activities for quite some time, they fly children into Israel for heart surgery, they also train doctors and medical staff in the third world and help them establish clinics for early diagnose and operating rooms like the one here in Mwanza. All of this sounds quite nice and lovely, but you never think of the hard work behind it. The mere mission of flying kids from Africa or the Arab world into Israel is very expensive, and needs a lot of co-ordinating, most of these kids and their accompanying parents do not even own a passport, even more, most of them cannot afford the fee of issuing one, SACH helps them do so. They live in far away villages, and need to travel to airport, SACH helps with that as well. They need constant follow up after the operation, SACH arranges that by training the local team. And I haven't even started to talk about the medical side where they need to bridge over overwhelming technical gaps and skill deficiencies, It is a very elaborate ordeal and these people are doing it with a constant smile on their faces despite the great fatigue, and the lack of basic conditions.

I was interviewed for the Arabic speaking Israeli radio today, and the reporter Shadi Ballan asked me why am I in Africa while there are so many children who need help in our region, and what I answered was that SACH operates on children from all over our region, as we're speaking there are children from Gaza in the pediatric ward in Wolfson medical center in Israel, receiving treatment, I personally met the parents in the hallways, chatting with other parents from Iraq, Peru and Tanzania who accompanied their children too, and only last month a Syrian girl's life was saved, it's just that these things usually go unnoticed, as if they fly under the media radars and therefore people don't even know they are going on, it took a drastic action like me coming to Africa for the media to interview me, so maybe from Africa I can also raise awareness for the actions taken in the Middle East.

I wish I could be everywhere, doing everything to help everybody, unfortunately I was built like an average human and cannot physically do so, there are many foundations helping people in many ways, when I choose to come to Africa and support SACH, a specific location, a specific organization, the hope is that with these specifics I'm somehow also spreading the more general word of human solidarity.

 

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