A Doctor's Experience in the Field
From the tallest to the smallest. I began with nearly 2 weeks in Odubu, northern Uganda at the Rhino Camp settlement for South Sudanese refugees, mostly Dinka and Nuer tribespeople, among the tallest and lankiest people in the world. I worked with a magnificent, dedicated and bright Ugandan staff, sometimes seeing 180 patients in a day. Work didn't stop after clinic hours as emergency cases and laboring women rolled in. Most of our inpatients suffered from severe malaria but we also saw myriad skin diseases, dysentery, typhoid, HIV, intestinal worms, abscesses and the surprisingly frequent scorpion sting.
After about 20 cumulative hours of road travel, border hassles, UN roadblocks and a few excellent meals of chapati and beans I found myself in Oicha, Democratic Republic of the Congo among the diminutive Pygmy and Bantu tribes people who have been displaced by rebel activity in their forested homeland. Their situation is made miserable by an amalgam of ethnic discrimination, suspicion of western medical care, complete separation from their livelihood (the forest), and nearly no food. Fortunately, a group of Congolese are working with GRI to improve their lot through a refeeding program, mobile medical care and a newly assembled clinic/mini-hospitalthat saw its first patients today. We met with tribal leaders in order to assess their needs and gain their trust. This is an extremely difficult and unstable setting but the GRI staff here are committed and innovative enough to help out these unfortunate folks.