I was in a hospital in Oloitokitok, in the back of beyond, in a pediatric unit.
It was filled with burned little kids. There were other kids with other problems too, but most of them were burned. The room was small. It was unsanitary, highly unsanitary for kids with severe burns. It smelled. There were flies. Some of the beds did not have sheets. I don't want anyone to think I'm sitting here saying that the doctors and nurses did not care, that they were not making the best of what supplies and resources they had. They cared very much about their patients. There were just not enough supplies, not enough staff - just not enough.
I read this boy a Berenstain Bear's book, one of the few children's books we kept at our field camp.
The only swahili words I could say to make him understand were "mama, baba, toto, toto" I would point to Mama Bear, Papa Bear, Brother Bear and Sister Bear and he would whisper the swahili words as I pointed.
This day was more than seven years ago, and today it just dawned on me that I have not the slightest notion of what happened to that burned boy. No clue. Did he live? Die? Die of burns? Die of infection? Does he have bad scars? Was he disabled because of his injuries? No idea.
Jam makes fun of me because he says if I ever win one of those multi-million dollar lotteries I'd be broke from giving all the money away. He's almost right - I'd make sure we'd have enough to live on. But I would go back to Oloitokitok and build a hospital - a decent, clean, sustainable hospital. With a burn unit, with a TB ward that wasn't corrugated plastic huts in the back yard. I think that's what I'd do first.