A very sad day.

21 May

One of my colleagues died on Friday.  He was ill for a short amount of time, was sent in for an appendicitis operation, and never regained consciousness.  It’s not clear what exactly went wrong.  I’m no doctor, but I thought that such operations were relatively routine.  This appears not to be the case here, as no-one seems particularly surprised at the manner of his death.

Sheriff was about 40, and had a wife and a large but unspecified number of children.  He was one of the nicest men I have had the pleasure to meet in this country; he went out of his way to ensure that I felt at ease when I first arrived, was permanently upbeat and never failed to greet me with a cheerful “Hello Mummy Kate!” every time he saw me.  His absence leaves a huge hole in the department.

My employers, who fortunately have a generous policy of providing for the next-of-kin of employees, arranged for a group of us to go and pay our respects to his family today.  He lived in the middle of a little settlement of sturdy two room dwellings near the centre of town, and such was the number of mourners we were not all able to get into his house.  His hollow-eyed widow was very gracious, and seemed to appreciate the prayer a friend of mine said as much as the cheque she received.  I found myself praying in a way that I rarely have before.

Quite apart from my own feelings about this particular death, it has really brought home the precarious nature of life here.  It is not just the numerous babies of poor and ill-educated women that lack access to decent medical care; even those with a decent job and a decent wage simply do not have access to reliable healthcare.  If I were to become seriously ill I know that my UK insurance provider would arrange for me to be flown home, but for most people here even a comparatively small complaint can be life-threatening.  I don’t want to start spouting clichés; I don’t want to rant about the injustice of it all, or to record for the millionth time that every death represents a person.


But it’s true.

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