As the medical camp was being set up, the county commissioner arrived in his posh Land Cruiser escorted by two AK bearing sentinels. He wore an expensive watch and wielded a satellite phone. The solitary show affluence and clout amid blatant poverty was an odd paradox. We sought his permission to see around the village which he quickly accorded and walked off towards the “panchayat style” congregation which was awaiting his arrival under a nearby tree. We took a walk amidst the ruins and realised that almost everything had been plundered. A few children were foraging the leftovers and grown ups were still taking stock.
There was a group of children playing soccer, totally unmindful of the ruckus all around. They were conditioned to such carnage, I guess. The most striking factor one observed was the boundless energy displayed by the kids. They would wave at you, salute you and give a comic pose when they notice a camera. They wore torn clothes, ate a pittance, drank from the dirty river and still retained the spark in their eyes.
During our break for lunch, the Doctor narrated an incident that took place at a medical camp that he organized at a place called Akobo. A pregnant lady was brought in by two young men. She was bleeding profusely and needed expert care. On inquiring he was told that she hailed from a village around thirty km across the border in Ethiopia and that her husband and brother had carried her all the way to the camp. The doctor recommended that she be taken to Nasser County (a couple of days walk away) where an NGO managed hospital could provide her the medical expertise required. Her husband quickly calculated the provisions he would require to buy, to sustain them for the journey and promptly proceeded ahead as advised, carrying his wife on a stretcher.
When I set out for the day’s task that morning, I had a few worries of my own. By the end of the day my issues seemed trivial. I felt grateful to have what I have.