The first week of placement ends today (nothing is open for the holidays), and so far, so good! I got to spend yesterday with Alex at the clinic, by request, curious to see how it differed from the Tanzanian variety. Aside from being much cleaner and the staff much friendlier, it had a very familiar “this is NOT America” feel. Many of the basic supplies are made by hand, there are far too many patients for nurses/doctors, and in general they “make do” with what they have. Despite the less then western ideals, the women I met seemed more than happy to be at work and emulated a very welcoming feeling I only felt rarely in Tanzania. I am constantly surprised here by how starkly different, yet pointedly the same it is (compared to Africa). Developing country, class division, lack of government aid. Again, reminded how the majority of the world functions, in seemingly complete chaos that finds a way to create massive infrastructure and the people, ever more impoverished have again proved to be some of the most giving, generous and warm people you could ever hope to meet. It is what I love about these countries, it’s what makes being in America so hard. Both Alex and I struggle to drive past the rows and rows of Beverly Hills mansions, not only because its a gross waste of resources (no one NEEDS eight bedrooms for three people…), but when you meet many of them, instead of being happy, or welcoming (or grateful), they are the opposite. Yet these women who live on nearly nothing run up to hug you when you meet them, genuinely thrilled to spend the day with you. It’s difficult to reconcile, and while certainly not the absolute it is an unfortunate “usual.” I suppose, at the least, I feel quite fortunate to be around these people, and can only hope to adopt a bit of their warmness and generosity.
>As always, we love reading your impressions and observations of the other cultures! Sounds like you 2 are going to have a truly unique Christmas! And probably a good move to be part of that group. Have a fabulous weekend!