It’s Friday night, and I am in a room. One of the walls is damaged. It looks quite old, and a little dirty. The light is not functioning properly; the shed that comes from it gives me an odd feeling. There is a tap in the corner. Water is running from it, and it leaves black marks in the sink. Different things are spread all over the place. There are bars in the windows. I don’t feel well…
Am I in a prison-cell?
No. In front of me there is an angry-looking woman with a needle in her hand. She wants to take a blood-test. I am in a hospital… Suddenly, I cannot help myself, but I start to laugh. I cannot stop laughing. The whole situation is so bizarre. The nurse looks at me with a strange look in her face. She asks me in a very harsh tone what is so funny? Between my laughter I try to explain to her that the situation is so different from what I am used to, and then we are both laughing. It feels better. She takes the needle from the sterile package, and she completes the blood-tests. Now she dosen’t look angry any longer: she is smiling and we are talking a bit in Swahili. Soon, I am off to the doctor in the next room, and two hours later, I am on my way back home: with two different kinds of antibiotics. I should soon be cured, the doctor promised. After four days of vomiting and high fewer, and I am looking forward to be healthy again.
Being sick in another country is always a challenge. You never know how the health system works. You don’t know what is the best option to choose, who you should contact, or which hospital you should visit. You don’t know how you should describe your symptoms, or if the medicine given to you actually will help.
During my third week in Tanzania, I was sick in Dar es Salaam. Nevertheless, I was blessed to be surrounded by new and supportive friends, which helped me to maintain a good spirit, despite my symptoms. Every day, my friends helped me to buy water and food, provided me with resorb (against dehydration), kept me company when I was not sleeping, or called me to ask how I was feeling. They looked up hospitals to me, and accompanied me during both my hospital visits. Thanks to this, I never felt alone or afraid. They helped me through some challenging days. I am very grateful to be surrounded by so many lovely people.
Asante sana marafiki yangu!