My last night at Coast Province General Hospital was bittersweet.
Six of us decided to spend our last night in Mombasa at the place that brought us here in the first place—the hospital. It was 10 pm before we arrived and like always, casualty was busy. Tonight though, we were going to make the very best of our last night and with us we carried a dozen scrubs to give to our favorite tiny African nurse, Mya. We knew she wouldn’t be on duty but we hid the scrubs in her secret supply cabinet. I only wish we could have been there when she opened it the next morning. She asked us to leave her one pair of scrubs, so twelve surely left her surprised! Knowing her she won’t keep them all for herself either, that was one reason we liked Mya so much.
You may have recently read in the news about a massacre in a Kenyan village where 48 people, mostly women and children, were murdered. If not here is a link to an article: http://www.mercurynews.com/nation-world/ci_21374684/at-least-48-killed-mostly-women-and-children
A survivor of this was brought into Coast General the day before. Her neighbor found her and brought her all the way to Mombasa for treatment. That takes hours by car. Her condition was severe: her arm badly severed by the blade of a machete. Her face distorted in a way that made her teeth visible with her mouth closed. She waited hours to receive treatment and was suppose to be rushed to emergency surgery, but in the end could not afford the procedure so she was sutured and sent away.
Again it’s hard seeing people suffering on a gurney in the corner, forgotten, because they can’t pay or there are no medical supplies. You just don’t see this in America so it’s still hard for me to wrap my head around. After assisting with vitals, dressings, and speeding up the treatment of people in casualty we decided to call it a night. I found one of the nurses I liked in casualty and asked her if she wanted my scrubs. Her face just lit up. She is a little more chesty than I am so hopefully they actually fit, but either way she was really excited. I then looked down at my shoes and back up at her and said, “will these fit you?” I slipped one off and she tried it on smiling back at me. I told her to wait there as I went and changed into shorts and a t-shirt in minor. When I went back and handed her the two pairs of scrubs and new shoes she seemed very grateful and would not stop smiling. It felt so good knowing I literally just gave her the clothes off my back and the shoes off my feet.
Before this trip I would occasionally find myself wondering about the meaning of life. Why I live in America where women have a voice, education is taken for granted, and clean water is at our fingertips when there are people in this world who have to fear genocide, education is out of the question, and have to walk four miles one way for a bucket of water. After seeing it first hand I ask that question more now than ever. It doesn’t seem fair and I will forever live with the images of poverty in the back of my mind but I will never forget the people I met here, they are some of the most amazing human beings I have ever had the opportunity to know. After being home for a day I have already stopped multiple times to think about how grateful I am for everyone and everything in my life. I know I’ll go back to Africa again someday. I’m not set out to change the world, but if I can be a part of improving the life of one person there, just one, I can die a happy person because I’ve completed the purpose of the life I want to live.
It’s amazing it took traveling half way around the world to find a part of myself I didn’t know existed. There’s a whole world out there, don’t be the one afraid to leave the comfort of your doorstep.