As Team 3 prepares for the next mission in Bangladesh later this week, some of our Team 2 members who returned home a couple of weeks ago, have put some thoughts down on paper to describe what it meant to them to be a part of the BPM Team. We’ll publish a few of these over the coming days as we wait for Team 3 to arrive in CXB.
There will be days when you think “I can’t do it today”.
The breakfast you eat will be nearly inedible after a few days. It’s exactly the same every day. You’ll crave fruit and salad but it’s Bengali Roulette to eat anything raw or washed. You need to be nearly paranoid with anything you touch and put near your mouth.
The smells from the latrines is overpowering. The flies thick. The noise constant. Water contamination likely. Dust when dry and thick heavy mud when wet. The drive to and from the camps is long and full of near misses. You will learn not to look out the windscreen and look out the window instead.
It will be hot, steaming humidity and relentless sun…you will carry more water than supplies every day, and drink more water and sweat more than you thought possible. Yet still feel a headache and thirst associated with dehydration. The tents are stifling and like ovens. Any physical exertion will be hampered by your sweat. It will sting your eyes, drip from your face and compromise your grip.
You will see and hear stories of despicable violence and heroic endurance that you cannot process. Witness injuries that should not have happened to anyone, especially children. Wonder how harsh their former existence was, that this new life is somehow better.
By days end, your muscles will ache and your clothes stink. Your sweat will leave white salt deposits on your clothes. Washing them in a bucket will clean them, however due to the humidity, they will still be wet in the morning. Beggars are present the moment you leave your hotel. They are constant and hard to ignore.
Restocking your bags for the next day is a task. Trying to foresee what you will need to take more of and remove what you may not use. Yet leave enough room for water. Buying water to keep stocks up for the day, for you, your mates and some dehydrated people you treat.
The cleanliness of your room will be dubious. The air stagnant. THE SHOWERS COLD. The bed hard. But it will be like a cloud at the end of the day. Mornings will be adorned with the Call to Prayer at 0448. With all the stray dogs howling in tune.
So, back to the days when you think “I can’t do it today”. When your alarm goes off…. you will lie there and feel every ache… every tired muscle and the growing unease of seeing everything again.
And then you will think of the kids with their smiles, walking with you and holding your hand. The adults bringing you a chair to sit on when you stop and offering you the little food they have to eat. The thanks in the eyes of those you treat and their families. The eagerness to help you as you go through the camps. A hand on your back as you cross a creek. Carrying your gear to help you when you tire. The children playing and laughing. The respect given to you by the big players. The honour of knowing you are one of a few Australian groups on the ground giving health care to these beautiful people. You think of the support from your family and friends back home. You think of the team with you and how you have a bond with them – they have your back and you have theirs.
All these thoughts will make you drag your sorry arse out of bed, get your backpack on, run down the stairs and get out there!
Sometimes you might wonder, what can one person like me actually do? If not a enough, it was something. I hear there are more and more aid agencies over there which means a lot more people doing a lot more somethings. I’m very grateful to have been a part of that. I’m very grateful that on the mornings I woke up and thought ‘I can’t’, I did. AS PART OF A TEAM, WE GOT SHIT DONE.