Leaving Bong with a Heavy Heart
It is amazing how in a span of six weeks, one begins to get attached to the people one works with and the place. Saying good-bye to the ETU is a little difficult but the time has come to leave and go home and have a good rest. On my way to the ETU while traveling in the IMC cruiser through Cuttington this morning, I heard someone call out, “Kwan Kew”. I did not catch a glimpse of the person but I realized that I had been here long enough now for people to know my name. Indeed the nationals are so great in remembering and pronouncing my name with such confidence, it is rather refreshing. They really truly make me feel welcome. They asked whether I would be returning. Unlike other expats who are on a paid contract, I do not leave for a 10-day R &R but leave for home and will not be returning. Some expressed regrets that they would not see me again. But such is life.
I must admit taking care of Ebola patients in an ETU is a challenging one both emotionally and physically. Every one of us is affected by the extreme sufferings of the patients and the death toll; we have been unable to save the lives of all the Ebola-afflicted patients. The chain reaction of loss of lives affecting generations of family is beyond comprehension. To care for such sick patients in full PPE in high humidity and wilting heat is an act of physical endurance. I am glad to have kept myself in good condition to be able to do this type of work without feeling deflated.
We visited the new ETU in Kakata in Margibi briefly, there will be an opening ceremony tomorrow, the beds are in place and they have also planted some banana trees. It is still an inferno.
I am now in Monrovia, as hot as Bong but crowded. Like other African cities I have seen, the infrastructures are not in tip-top conditions. I sometimes am doubtful that if there had not been civil wars, they would be. My driver said corruption is rampart even in police officers who would ask for a cut of the payment of a collision agreed upon by the parties involved. Teachers in the University of Liberia are known to take bribes in exchange for passing or better grades for their students because of low salary scale and unreliable payment. I am always disheartened by such practices in Africa and the continued reliance on foreign aid without a future plan to be weaned off help permanently.
Still no one seems to have the right answer.