Last day in the field. And just like so many of our days, a mix of despair and joy. Our first job of the day was to pick up Abdul Karim, the elderly patient we had found with a chest drain in place. After driving him to the camp, Simon, Amy and I carried him the 1.5 km to his shelter. His chest drain is still in place, but cleaner and more secure. It will be there for the rest of his days, which sadly probably won’t be long.
Next it was a visit to Ibrahim, the paralysed gentleman who we have been visiting for the last couple of days. Simon secured a new catheter from the Red Cross Clinic and replaced the one Ibrahim had had for a while now. He was very grateful, but struggling with the knowledge that he may never walk again. We stayed with him as long as we could, talking through options and letting him know that his story had already touched so many people and that there were incredible people in the background determined to make his life a little easier. We assured him we wouldn’t desert him.
We then joined Alex, Shane and Mel who had been busy attending patients in Jamtoli to the south. Our main man, Moslem, had heard of a number of patients who required attention, and they had been working their way through the list. There was nothing too serious and they moved even further south to Leda camp. We stayed with a young mum and her 7 day old baby boy. She had last 2 previous children, both at 7 days old. She was terrified that the same might happen to this one. We spent some time educating her on how to swaddle her child while at the same time keeping the head free of blankets and wraps. We have noticed that many young bubs are wrapped and covered in such a way that their faces are covered in blankets as well as having blankets around their heads which they can easily turn their little faces into. I really hope mum takes our advice on board.
Our final patient of this mission was a young man Shane, Simon and Mel had come across a few days ago in Unchiprang. 18 yo Mohammed Yunus has had a tumour growing steadily on the side of his face over the last 5 years. It is beginning to impede his breathing and prevents him from eating solids. It is also becoming increasingly painful all the time. Mohammed had lost his entire family. He was befriended by another refugee on the arduous journey over to Bangladesh. He’s been with him ever since. The team would like to help everyone they meet, and solve every problem they encounter. But that’s impossible. But this is one situation that we can help with. We’ve already seen what it is possible to achieve through our surgeon friend, Dr Badsha. We had shown him photos of Mohammed’s tumor, and he thinks he can help. Mel has generously donated the hefty deposit for the operation. Simon, with funds he has raised through his GoFundMe page, along with Backpacker Medics, will cover the rest. It is an absolute pleasure to be able to finish this project on such a positive note, knowing that, even after we have gone, our contribution will still be changing and improving lives.
There is plenty more to be done before this phase is over, with end of mission reports, ensuring continuity until the next team arrives, handing over the said team and preparing ourselves for the next phase that kicks off before the end of the month. What I do know is that the team is exhausted. Exhausted, but reluctant to leave. There are mixed feelings of the joy of going home to their family and loved ones, tempered with not wanting to leave so many people still in such desperate need. This is a testament to what these individuals are like. Alex, Amy, Mel, Shane and Simon have put everything into this trip, starting with their time away from home and work, to the tireless days which started at the crack of dawn and went through till the sun had long gone below the horizon. The worked all day long, foregoing lunch, walking untold kilometers, drenched in sweat and carrying heavy packs, without a single word of complaint. They maintained a professional and positive attitude, despite the horrendous things they all witnessed and heard. They gave and gave, and kept giving. It has been an absolute honour to work alongside such dedicated and motivating people. It’s been my pleasure to be team leader of a team that requires no leading. I can’t thank them enough.
We had to include some of Nat’s beautiful shots of the kids that he met along the way. Who knew all this time that this awesome, inspiring Team Leader was also such a wonderful photographer … he says it’s just his iphone not him but …. we’ll let you decide.