Sent via e-amil 7/5/08
Hello dear friends and family,
Here's a head's up before you read: I wish I could have all my emails be funny and light-hearted, but it wouldn't be a truthful reflection of the reality of life here. This one recounts some community events that occured last Sunday-- please have a read but I warn you: it's a little heavy.
Last Sunday morning-- my first Sunday back in Bouliwel after being on vacation seeing Rene-- I went through my normal routine, excited to be back in my village after long last. I woke up, made some coffee in my newly purchased French press (glorious.), had some prayer time, took my shower, changed, and headed out the door to get a taxi to Dalaba for church. As I walked up the dirt road towards the main carrefour [intersection], greeting people and shaking hands, a car suddenly roared over the hill heading towards the health center, towing a wake of distressed and screaming women and children in its wake. I had to get out of the way to avoid getting hit, and, puzzled, asked one of the men nearby what was going on.
"Il y avait un accident sur la route la bas," he said frankly. There was an accident on the main road my my village's marketplace.
"Un accident?!" I asked. "Qu'est-ce qui s'est passe?" What happened?
"Une petite fille etait tape par un taxi," he said. A little girl was hit by a taxi.
A wave of goosebumps washed over me as I heard that. Oh no. I pressed him for more information-- how bad was it? What was she doing in the road? Whose fault was it? -- but he didn't seem to know much more than that. I turned and joined the crowd of people heading down the road to the health center where they had taken the girl.
When I got there, there was a huge crowd of people already gathered outside: Men, women, children-- all milling around, some yelling, others crying, still others having heated discussions about the unacceptable practices of Guinean taxi drivers. I pushed my way through and went into the health center.
The little girl was in one of the sick rooms. I walked in, expecting to see her being attended to by the health center staff, yet they were nowhere to be seen (turns out M. Diallo was seeing a patient and M. Sow was in Mamou for the day). When people noticed the porto had appeared in the health center they all turned to me, imploring me to do something to help her.
Oh no, I thought. I'm not a doctor, nor am I qualified or comfortable giving this kind of care. Yet there was nothing else to do, so I approached the girl's bedside and walked through my tried-and-true CPR techniques. Was she coherent? No. She was in a state of shock, unconscious, and coughing up blood. Did she have a pulse? Yes, thank God. Was she breathing? Yes, ragged, bloody gasps. She must have had some kind of internal bleeding.
I called her name several times: Safiatou! Safiatou! Her older brother-- a friend of mine-- was next to me, shaking his head and saying we ought to take her to Mamou, where they have a bigger hospital. I just looked at her and said a prayer: God, please let this girl live.
The next moment a consensus seemed to have been made: take the girl to Mamou. I grabbed the brother and another guy and we lifted her carefully off the bed, out the door and into the waiting taxi. As we brought her out the crowd just gasped and chattered, women crying and children staring wide-eyed. We put her in the taxi and it zoomed off to the regional hospital. I just stared after it, watching it go and praying under my breath.
The day passed normally after that: Church in Dalaba, hang-time with the Volunteers there, and a trip to the weekly marketplace. That night, back in Bouliwel, the honks of a car announced the bad news: the girl had died.
Two cars came screeching into Bouliwel in front of my house, and soon the wailing began again, this time in unison, declaring the sadness and pain of another loss.
The arrangements were made quickly and efficiently: the burial was done the next morning and all the proper procedures were followed.
Ah, Bouliwel! So much suffering, so much pain. If only people would drive more cautiously, think with more common sense, act with more care!
My heart just aches sometimes for the suffering of this village that I have come to love. If you have read this, thank you showing compassion (suffering alongside) for a few moments.