Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Food Glorious Food

Food is very much a part of daily life worldwide, and with any venture into a new country, the different cuisine is always a source of entertainment, surprise and sometimes, regret! Here the national dish I affectionately term as ‘Boule and Gruel’, is basically a solid white tasteless lump of paste with a slimy green sauce made of okra and containing either meat or fish. It’s more the consistency I struggle with rather than the taste.  Needless to say, I don’t cook this for myself.

However, in my first few weeks at working at the hospital, I was struck by the blessing I have of being able to choose what I do and do not eat. Malnutrition is a real issue in Chad affecting thousands of children and killing many. 

Chubby Cheeks!
On my first day working at L’Hôpital de Guinebor II, a little 18 month old boy with severe malnutrition, weighing at just over 4kg was bought by his mother. He was skin and bone and looked terrible. The chances of him living looked slim. However, after just two weeks of treatment and being fed enriched milk, he piled on the pounds and looked like a different boy; he had a fuller face, he smiled to those around him and even, occasionally, when he was feeling particularly brave, he would wave at me! He was discharged at the end of his third week over 2 kg heavier and has been returning each week for follow up checks and a refill of enriched milk, each time looking plumper.

My first few weeks at the hospital have been busy, tiring, frustrating, exciting, overwhelming and many other emotions, but throughout it, it has been the contact with patients and especially the little children such as this boy and another little one who has had surgery to release scarring tissue from around his neck following a severe burn, that has made my time here so far so enjoyable and fulfilling.

My little friend

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