October 4, 2012
Kasoa Home Base
1st full day
Is it a bad foreboding sign that I feel homesick now? On my first full day!
I really just miss home—the comforts, ease and familiarity of Home. Wherever home really is — and I guess it’s in both the comforting constancy of my parents and in the lightness of my life in Danville with my friends, a fulfilling work and our Filipino house (which though impossibly messy, at least has running water and the reassurance that even if we forget to pay the bill which we never have, we will always have power).
Don’t get me wrong—so far it has been quite a mind-blowing experience.
This morning I had breakfast with the girls. Our breakfast was porridge, toast, orange and hot chocolate. It was quite the breakfast—it’s more than my typical, which for the past month has been um, none. The girls say that was typical breakfast. And by typical they mean, always. Hey at least we’ll always have carb, protein and fiber.
I had a pretty good sleep last night under my mosquito net. Didn’t dare use the pillow (it looked like a hundred people had salivated on it—you know, brown marks and all). I was very careful not to have any extremity touch the net. God knows how fastidious mosquitoes can be.
After breakfast W walked distances with me to change currency and buy necessities like a sim card and a phone credit, shampoo, soap, toothpaste, toilet paper and water (which comes in 500ml plastic packs). It was a super long walk and I was sweltering in sweat and dust. We scarcely were under the sun for 3 hours and I’ve burned already.
In the afternoon the girls and I went to the dress shop to get H’s dress and shorts (took them 3 hours to get both right), then to the orphanage. The children there were lovely! They came up to me, stranger me, and hugged me like we have been familiar with each other forever. We stayed there for some time. One of the children toured me around. Madam, this is the library. Madam, this is for class 3&4, this for class 5&6, and upstairs is for the big ones.
|H showing off her shorts which took forever to get right|
|Spot the Statue of Liberty|
|So beautiful. Look at their bright eyes!|
The classrooms were in very decrepit states—no light, tables that can barely stand on their own, chalkboard with sometimes, no chalk. There was a girl who wanted to be a doctor. I thought that was neat. I hope she becomes one.
I keep thinking to myself, this is like the Philippines, this is like the Philippines get on with it. It’s not like I have not seen nor lived in less optimal conditions— I mean, I was a mountaineer for a few years, volunteered in provincial villages for some time and oh my god, how can I forget—I did work in Fabella Hospital didn’t I? And East Ave? How dare I forget?
But I guess I do know the answer. The States has spoiled me.
I know that being here and living the culture is a very opportune time for me to have a self-dialogue as to the direction I want my career (and my life) to take. Third world medicine has always been something that I have wanted to be involved in—with dreams of joining the MSF and doing international work fueling even my choice to do Med-Peds. And now that I am almost done and interviewing for jobs, I think it’s about time to re-examine my values and determine first and for all – is this something I really, truly, absolutely, to-the-core want? Or was I just romanticizing third world medicine and I do not have the mettle for it, actually? I guess the next 4 weeks is going to unveil the answer.
In the meantime, I am still quite wide-eyed in amazement at how differently from each other the human race lives. How a few in the world live on too much, and how most live on too little. I know there is plenty for everyone, in my heart I know this is true. But, it is rather difficult to see this as the reality here in Africa. And come to think of it, I am already in the part of Africa that is considered to be relatively progressive. It makes me sad.
What is encouraging and amazing however, is that people here seem to be…happy.
Clearly they are telling me: the glass is always half full!