Journal from Libya: Part 4

In celebration of National Midwifery Week, Medelita presents daily entries from the journal of Becky Carlton, BSN, CNM, an American midwife recently in Libya during the ongoing revolution. May 9, 2011 4:22pm I read this last night and started laughing uncontrollably. It’s actually a story about Nepal, but it could be a snapshot of my life in Africa—absurd and, somehow, outrageously funny. Thomas Hale on impromptu outpatient clinic activities: “…since Cynthia by this time had begun holding gynecology clinic in the examining room, I set up shop in the crowded waiting room. One man had an anal condition, so everyone had to face the wall while I examined him, his behind to the window so there’d be enough light. The only problem came from the giggling spectators looking in from outside.” The imam sings over the mosque loudspeaker, bombs explode in the distance (some rattling the windows) and we all sit with our computers compiling statistics, writing reports, organizing stock data, and wondering what our cook and his wife will make for dinner. It was a rather slow day at the hospital. Monday is Statistics Day, epidemiological week 18, and data collection took up lots of the day since we were obliged to drink tea several times. We had a nice set of twins this morning in Delivery. One boy. One girl. Can’t complain about that. It is good to have time to sit and chat with the staff. Many have symptoms of post-traumatic stress. We must remain neutral in our position regarding the Libyan conflict, but I think it is somewhat therapeutic just to let them talk. Many come to work as they have for months without pay because it is easier to not think about what has happened to them if they have things to keep their hands busy. The city citizens have organized themselves in some remarkable ways. In most places, a conflict like this would push prices up to ridiculous levels. Somehow, they managed to actually drop prices (petrol is .25/dinar/liter while it would be about12 dinar/liter in the US right now ($4.50) Food is being distributed to different districts free of charge to the people and someone delivers hot food for the hospital staff and patients daily. They are all sharing and donating to the cause. I talked to a pharmacy student today in the outpatient pharmacy. She was telling me that her family’s house was destroyed, so they moved to their other one. Then that one was destroyed, so she and her family are living in a school with dozens of other families. (while writing this I have moved into the hallway—the designated “safe room” of the house since the explosions are close and loud and scaring me a little. I’m still really jumpy after last night). I believe in the value of the project we are doing and I think the risk we chose to take by coming was a calculated one. I do ask myself, though, when I’m lying on the floor against the wall protecting my rib-cage and listening to the explosions coming closer, why am I doing this? In the end, I’m happy to be here. I love the project, the expat team, the staff, and the patients. It’s a great project and wonderful adventure. I only hope we can make a real difference in helping them recover. Becky Carlton, BSN, CNMMedelita Guest Blogger: Becky Carlton, BSN, CNM. Becky is currently working as the Midwifery Dean at Gimbie Adventist Hospital in Ethiopia. Becky has been doing missionary work for many years, with such organizations as the Peace Corps and Doctors without Borders (MSF).

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