Monday, February 25, 2008


I really love African children.

Today a little 3 year old boy, Roger, was my patient. He is having surgery to repair a fissure between his nose and mouth.

Roger was fast asleep when his mother carried him into the ward. We get before photos of all our patients and we needed a picture of the inside of Roger's mouth. Sadly, this required us waking him up and attempting to have him open his mouth wide enough to get the needed photo. It was not the best way to become friends with Roger. He cried and grasped for his mom as she tried to open his mouth wide.

I have found that 2 and 3 year old's experience the stranger anxiety/environment stress when they come to the ward. These children have never been in an environment like our ship and some have never even seen white skin.

When I first arrived I took it personal that the children here find me scary and my heart was broken for about two weeks. I did not feel better until I finally realized they were just going to be scared and there was nothing I could do about it.

About an hour after the photo incident I was trying to make amends with Roger by sitting at his bed and gently reaching out my hand so that he could see I was not going to hurt him. He was sitting on his bed eating his dinner of rice covered in palm oil. When he saw my hand he reached with his spoon into his bowl and placed a lump of oily rice into the palm of my hands.

What a generous little boy. I guess that means we are friends now. Or maybe he just has exceptional manners.

Either way, he made my day.

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