Working here provokes a love hate relationship – there are days that are fantastic, where you are floating on cloud 9 and your outlook is gleaming, bright, and positive, and days where you want to dive off the deep end and disappear into the nebulous and retreat into your comfort zone. It’s hard to weigh in as to whether people really appreciate you, things, and interactions – here. I feel like some days I’m making an impact, making valuable connections and that it’s well, worthwhile, for me to be here. And other days, I feel like why do I even bother? I feel like everyone around me could care less, that I am not wanted here and am just wasting time. It’s like showing up to the health post, the municipality, or hosting a meeting in a community and they barely acknowledge you’re there. You start a conversation, and their attention is easily diverted, they give you the head turn, and away they go. In the meeting, they show up, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 50 minutes late, or not at all. And then they just sit there and stare, some bicker about the topic at hand, and then they go back and forth, not really deciding anything. Some kind of just sit there and laugh at the spectacle, or some just blankly stare, absent, with vacant on-looking eyes. However, then there can be a complete, or close to a complete, success, where there’s a meeting with health promoters that you have worked so hard to recruit from all your caseríos. We had 29 health promoters and mother leaders show up to training for this month’s theme – la gripe y infecciones respiratorias agudas (IRAs)/ the flu and respiratory infections. Así es.
As far as medical attention goes… it’s been a challenge to observe. Once coming into the health post, I witnessed a 7-year-old girl, with third-degree burns from cooking oil. Sitting naked on the exam table with a surrounding gawking audience of the health post personnel, she was bent over crying in agony, with loose flabs of skin hanging from her hip and several other boiled circles of skin on her stomach and legs. She was just sitting there crying with a lamp spotlight on her nudity and pain, and her audience scolding her callously for her crying. God just let her cry and give her some relief! I was on my way into the country side to visit some families in the neighboring caserío of Olaya, and I could do nothing for this girl.
Later that night, after coming back from Olaya, I ran into her and her mother shortly after they were departing from the health post. I was at least able to converse with her mother, perhaps consoling her to some extent, and comfort the little girl, giving her a bit of smile, and a most gentle embrace (avoiding the burns). After they headed off, I was en route to fulfill a guilty pleasure of a shower (thanks to the health post), where I could receive my therapy – to retreat from the world, be warm, and think – my means of putting myself back together.