Thursday, 1 November 2012

Christmas Comes Early

Christmas has come early to the hospital this year.

A few weeks ago the hospital received two much anticipated and long awaited presents. But they were not made quietly in the dead of a frosty night by a man dressed in red, who arrived and left unnoticed. No, in contrast there was a great deal of curiosity at their arrivals and the accompanying entourage as they drew up to the gates of the hospital under the baking sun.

Two huge shipping containers, transported from America by ExxonMobil finally came to the end of their eventful and long journey. Having collated and packed the many generous donations, the containers sailed across the Atlantic to the shores of Cameroon, where they then embarked on a long journey by road to reach the borders of Chad many months later. Further long journeys by road were required to reach the capital city, on the outskirts of which is the hospital. Finally, we got the exciting news that, yes the containers were only 7km away!!!! Excitement and expectations rose, they were finally arriving. And then, no. The heavy rains that we saw over the months of July to August had left the roads impassable to such large vehicles and so further delays were necessary. So near yet so far! The anticipation was building.

A couple of weeks on, the rains had subsided and the roads had impressively quickly returned to sandy tracks and the arrival of the containers was once again expected any moment. It still however was a great surprise and joy to hear the roar of lorries and to look up and see an enormous crane type vehicle crossing the yard! This was then soon followed by the first container, having completed a 38 point turn in the road to get lined up for a run up to the hospital gate! With impressive speed given the size and weight of the vehicles and the comparative small space of the hospital, the first container was soon being lifted into the air and guided (extraordinarily, by hand of two guys pulling on a rope!) onto the its final resting place. 

One down, one to go. But it would seem the adventure and challenges were not quite over yet. The crane, in the bid to get out of the second lorry’s way, drove, and then promptly sank, into a patch of soft sand. While the unique ability of the vehicle to use its hydraulics to life itself out of the sand, thus allowing an ever increasing amount of wood, rubble and then whole branches of trees to be placed under the wheels, it only managed to dig itself deeper and deeper. An hour and half later, after much sweat, effort and frustration (on the men’s side, I provided water and took the photos!), it was eventually free. Twenty minutes later, the second container was in place and thirty minutes on, the lorries roared into the distance, crowds died out, the work of the hospital continued and our new containers were in place. They had finally, safely arrived!

After an Opening Ceremony, during which a governmental minister arrived to the resounding notes of the Alleluia chorus, speeches were made, a tour of the hospital given and then finished off with a mini feast of meat sandwiches and drinks (to the back drop of my drying underwear on the clothes line! Opps), the fun could start! Time to unwrap!!!

Stuffed full of generous and countless donations from people across America for the use of the hospital, from gauze compresses and drip stands,  to a new digital x ray machine, two generators, wheel chairs and theatre trolleys, unpacking them is proving to be a medical Christmas extravaganza!

The unwrapping begins

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