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  • Writer's picturekwankew

Nafusa Mountains

This morning I saw the crescent moon through the window hanging just above the minaret of a mosque, a gentle cool breeze blew softly. A lone dog sniffed around in the backyard where a few dust-covered fig trees grew. Some of the men in the guest house escaped the stifling heat indoors and slept on the roof deck which must have been lovely.

Before our arrival in Libya we were told that we might be sent to Sahba, south of Tripoli where a field hospital might be set up. Now we are learning that is not the case. Misurata and Benghazi are now post-war and are not in dire need of medical help. In Sirht, the birth-place of Gaddafi where fighting is still going on, they need surgeons and anesthesiologists.

Today we traveled west of Al Zintan to Kabaw to close a program in the hospital there, pulling out a Tunisian doctor who had spent two months there. He will be reassigned to Misurata. The hospital director vehemently disagreed with the move, leaving him with two doctors, one from Egypt and the other from Croatia.

The mountains from Kabaw to Tiji were dotted with century-old houses carved into their faces and this created their own air-conditioning system.

Our progress was slowed down by numerous road-blocks and check points manned by Freedom Fighters carrying kalashnikov. The checkpoints were of chairs, tires or mounds of earth creating a meandering path to slow down the speed of vehicles.

From Kabaw to Tiji we traversed over winding mountain road and came upon a huge crater created by the freedom fighters strategically placed by the Freedom Fighters to impede the advance of Gaddafi's forces and attack them when they were forced to slow down.

The goal today was to assess the needs of the locals for clinical care by visiting a few clinics in the towns of the mountain region.The clinic in Awlad Talib near Tiji is clean but devoid of equipment. They have 28 nurses and 3 social workers but no doctors. Some nurses were sitting around with no work to do. This facility is meant to serve 6000 people. For some reasons we bypassed the hospital at Tiji which is non-functional because it has been partially destroyed and the equipment were taken by Gaddafi's forces to Nalut Hospital in the western border of Libya near Tunisia.

In Badr we visited another clinic whose daily census used to be 120 and now down to 25 patients a day. Again the facility is badly in need of repair, equipment, medicines and personnel especially doctors. There are 70 nurses. In the front hall way, prominent bullet holes were seen with Fxxx Gaddafi spray-painted over the top in Arabic.

We stopped at an IMC guesthouse right across from Jadu Hospital for a late lunch of couscous with some meat, a salad of tomatoes, onions and cucumber and finished off with mounds of pink pomegranates and delicious dates.

The mountain region in the west seems to be quiet now and the people that we met on the roads and in the clinics are mighty proud of their new-found freedom. Life is returning to normal.

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