As always today was an amazing day. I mean every single day in this place is amazing. First of all I get to sleep eight hours. I can’t tell you the last time I got four nights of eight hours of sleep. Secondly, I haven’t gotten or felt sick the WHOLE TIME I’VE been here! I haven’t been this sick/running to the toilet free in seven months. I could cry. I will post about the food. Lets just say there’s a lot of oil.
After lunch, and touring around coffee country in Timor during the morning with a guy named Pedro (who’s from Portugal), I got to be in an ambulance.
Let’s back up here. Bakhita Centre provides free ambulance service to the people in the region. Honestly, they can drive 2-3 hours to pick someone up and then 5 hours to the local hospital that has an x-ray machine in Dili. There’s a hospital in Gleno..but no x-ray machine. Imagine, if you will, breaking your leg…then driving four hours down washed out roads to Dili.
Anyways, there are four ambulances in the region that are owned by the government. However, they are broken and need to be fixed. They can’t get fixed because the government hasn’t paid their bills for the last time..thus the mechanics are refusing. What ends up happening is Bakhita becomes the only viable option for people in medical emergencies.
Pedro goes ‘Michelle, there’s a report of a guy who has fallen and needs to go to the hospital. Wanna come along?’
For those of you who might not know me 🙂 I have a different career, life paths ever four-six weeks. It’s of no use listening to my thoughts about life..because they change too much. However, ever since I went to college to become a teaching my grandpa always said to me ‘Michelle, you should be a nurse’.I didn’t listen. I got my Master’s Degree and still didn’t listen. However, his words haunt me–in a good way–and this experience in Timor is something which is meant to bring about a deciding factor in my life..well kinda.
We hop into the car and drive 1 hour through mountain roads that are inaccessible at times during the wet season.
We come upon this house that is literally on the side of the road/mountain. It’s probably the size of a normal bedroom. I walk in to find this old, frail man on the bed wailing in pain.
‘What’s wrong with him?’ I demand
‘Something is wrong with his neck’
Oh SHIT! I think to myself. Immediately have flash backs of watching TNT marathons of ‘Rescue 911’ with the cheesy music and people running for 10 miles to get help.
‘Is this man is paralyzed’ I think to myself. ‘There’s no point or way, is there, to get him down the mountain without doing further damage. He’d need to go to Dili..which is at least 3 1/2 -4 hours drive’
‘Can you please squeeze his toes to see if he can feel anything’ I demanded. I bent down to squeeze my toes trying to overcome language barriers and stress.
He moved his legs
‘Thank god!’ I said to myself. Thank god.
Pedro, I should mention is a Forest Engineer. Pedro was called upon picking this man up because someone walked 1 1/2 hours down to Bakhita Centre and Anders was already headed to Dili with the centre’s one ambulance.Thus, in his forest truck we took these people to the hopstial..no one else has vehicles to do this.
We drove down literally washed out roads..over bamboo bridges..letting coffee trucks pass us by.
‘Michelle, can we pass this truck, or should I stop?’ Pedro would ask as a huge dump truck would come around a corner with 20 people attached to it like leeches.
‘You should stop, because there isn’t enough room a the road ahead for two vehicles to pass’ I stated.
This poor man was literally 90lbs..if that. He has worked his whole life..you could tell. He had a white and blue hanky in his pocket and a nasty..nasty cut on his forehead…blood on his hands.
He lay rested in the back seat of the truck with his head on a pillow while resting on a family member’s lap. He winced the whole way to Gleno, the one hour drive.
I was totally helpless.
I couldn’t do anything to ease his pain. Nothing. The only thing I could do was say ‘Diak?’ in Tetun. Good? He’s look at me with pained eyes and say back ‘Diak’ which means ‘Good’. I would sometimes lean back during really rough patched in the road and say ‘Diskulpa’ which means ‘Sorry’.
That’s all I could give him.
The most amazing thing about this ambulance service is that it provides people the ability to get necessary medical treatment. I think that he broke something…even if he didn’t he needed stitches and a proper clean. Of which would not have happened like it did today.
Women giving birth..haven’t seen it. But the only place for a c-section is Dili. Imagine being in labour and having to drive at least 2 1/2 hours through contractions…that is the reality. Babies have been born in the ambulance and in the back of trucks.
It was awesome. I loved every single second of it.