I am now counting down less than a week until I am home, and I am ready. Working in the camps is emotionally and physically draining. It is overwhelming and seems so futile at times.
Today was we were at Alito Camp and I just shook my head as we drove in past the hordes of people lined up waiting our arrival, most of them mother's with small children.
A question that now comes up with every single infant brought in is: "Has there been local tonsillectomy or removal of false teeth?" In every village there is a "local healer", I do believe in the early days of missionaries they were called witch doctors. The people will take their feverish and very ill children to these people in the hopes that their practices will provide some relief.
The local healers believe that the white patches that form on a child's lower gums, where the incisors are located carry infection, so they will take a long fingernail and gouge out that area. The same is done at the back of the throat where they might see white patches, and once again they will gouge or scrape the tissue with a fingernail. As you can only imagine this is terribly painful and unsanitary, so what ends up happening is that these children then end up with a raging infection.
As if this isn't enough, sometimes, they will take a small snare made from wire, or a sharpened bicycle spoke and cut out the uvula. You know, the dangly thing at the back of your throat. Frequently when they do this the children will lose much blood and become severely aenemic, requiring hospitalization and blood transfusions. The parents don't believe that there is much blood loss as the children tend to swallow all of the blood.
It made me very angry when I first learned of these practices and the sheer terror these children must endure when this is happening to them. But then the realization hit that these people are desperate. They have had no access to health care, doctors, clinics, or hospitals. When their children are sick and even having febrile convulsions from malaria they are at their wits end. Why not try the local tonsillectomy, there are no other alternatives.
Most of the adults also have many small scars on their arms, chest, or legs. These are caused by being cut to release the pain or the infection. Once again, imagine in your lifetime having no one with any education or medication to treat you and you are in pain, you might just try anything.
Even though it at times is discouraging and seems futile, I am thankful to be able to help a few. It will take much more education and patience to see these practices disappear.
Thankful for the healthcare available to me in the States, Brenda