This life we live is a life full of contrasts & contradictions.
One minute we are celebrating because we have achieved so much & taken so much ground this year & then the next minute we are hit with the reality of how much is still yet to be done! One minute we are creating a beautiful space for guests to come and enjoy, planning a menu (and then enjoying that menu with them!)…… the next minute we are faced with so much need!
Today was such a day…..
We had planned to go with Dr Annie to the village of Mbueain, about 40mins from here, as she had shared with us that this area was severely neglected & has not changed in the 10 years she has been visiting there.
On arrival at the Primary school we were shocked at the conditions in the classrooms. Huge holes in the floors… and the ceiling. Old broken desks, and not nearly enough to go around. There are 33-37 students in each class. The Government has supplied 30 chairs and desks for the whole school! (do the math)
The furniture they did have had been pushed together in order to squeeze as many children as possible on them!… The other children were sitting on the broken floor.
The purpose of Dr Annies yearly visits is to do a ‘health screening’ on the Year 1 students. She is to check each child individually & report back to the health department any children that are ‘unable to learn’ due to health issues or disabilities (such as hearing,vision etc) One child, who is now 11 years old,, is still in Yr 1 as he has been unable to progress. Last year Dr Annie recommended he go to the ‘special school’ in the main city as he would be unable to progress in a normal school. At first it was thought that this boy suffered from some sort of mental health issue but after further investigation it was put down to severe malnutrition. This boy is not just ‘another statistic’. He is a human being with a body that has needs, the same as ours, & due to a lack of these needs being met his little body is now unable to function properly! Heartbreaking! (It is unlikely that he will ever go to the ‘special’ school because of the costs attached) There wereanother two children in this class that had open sores and others with liquid coming from their ears that will need to visit the clinic here for further treatment and care.
The clinic is another story….
They have no oxygen, no anaesthetic and are mostly low on medicines. Funds are meant to come from the Government to supply these things but for the past few years the funding has not found it’s way there. (The staff at the clinic have been known to pay for these things themselves…. Most of them are volunteers) The dentist was recently given a brand new, very modern, dentist chair from Brazil but they are unable to use it because no-one will pay the money to connect the ‘spit bowl’ to a waste outlet making it sanitary to use. At this point they still have to send people off on a journey to the hospital in Ba’a to get a tooth pulled or even for a filling!
There is so much more I wanted to share with you…. so many more things I have learned in just 1 day…. but I will spare you the sad (and shocking) stories.
What to do? Where to from here?
The temptation is to crawl up in ball, overwhelmed, with the thinking… “how can we possibly make a difference?” (don’t get me wrong, I do give in to that at times!!)
But what I do truly believe, is that we CAN make a difference…. One day at a time…. each of us doing our bit and NEVER giving up…. I can’t say we know everything…. Indeed, we are learning as we go…. What I can say, is that we will do our best & give our best…..