Tuesday, March 6, 2012
It's Tuesday, and I've been running errands today in preparation of the journey again to Kabudula. I spent last night at a friend's house, one of the doctors working at the Baylor peds HIV clinic. He had wireless internet, hot water, and a good stove. I was a kid in a toy store. Today I obtained some spending money and would liked to have filled up the tank, buy there is no diesel or petrol to be found. Well, not to be found by ordinary types. Maybe I'm cynical, but somehow I feel there are a certain few individuals that get all the gas they could ever want. The difference between the haves and have-nots in Malawi, like much of Africa, is tremendous. During a long run with Akash, we saw a glimpse into the chasm. We left his house, located in a very nice area where the walls are high and covered with razor wire. Just five minutes on foot we reached a neighborhood filled with tightly packed simple brick houses and open dumping sites. These folks, while living a very different lifestyle from their very near neighbors, still have it much better than the people living in more rural areas of the country. I may have said this before, but Malawi has an estimated 75% of the population living on less than a dollar a day. Gas, when it's available, is about 9 dollars a gallon, and an unaffordable luxury to the majority anyway. Car insurance, which I was dealing with today, is about $350/yr, much like many policies in the States, and therefore more than most Malawians make in a year. Cable television is available, for $75/mo. A lot of food grown in the country is affordable, but food imported from South Africa is too expensive for the majority of the country. The president, who recently said that NGOs that unfairly criticize his government as autocratic can "go to hell", owns a helicopter and a private jet.
I'm bringing some supplies to Kab today. We bought an electric kettle to boil water to make special formula for the malnourished kids, some jugs to hold boiled water, measuring cups, and amoxicillin syrup. It really seems tiny, but these things will make a difference. They need beds, sinks with soap, a more consistent supply of specialized formula, to name a few. I hope to do a refresher training on malnutrition while I'm here.
Tonight I cooked food for Aubrey, the 25 year old clinical officer that runs this 100 bed hospital. Two high school students that WAM and Aubrey are helping to support were helping around the house, so I showed them how I cook. They had their very first bites of garlic, bell pepper, and hot sauce! One of the students, Chris, had quite the hot sauce-face-of-surprise. Chifuniro showed me which young pumpkin leaves were the best to pick for cooking.
It's 9:35p here and the town seems pretty quite. Well, that is, except for the dozen or more dogs howling like we were in Transylvania. On call with Aubrey tonight, so better try for zzzz's while I'm able.
Thanks for reading.