Thursday, 18 March 2010

a night in with the doc

Just got a message from friends out in Cambodia to say one of the little children I worked with last year has died from the latter stages of Dengue Fever. It makes me so, so sad, but also MAD! Surely it's a basic human right to have clean water and even the most rudimentary health care for people all over the world!

Whilst I was out in Cambodia I was invited to share a few nights in the villages with the local people I stayed in a families house on the Tonale Sap lake, a shack on stilts. These people have so little but what they did they shared with such generosity and spirit. The shack consisted of one large living space, the only furniture, rattan mats to sleep on and a photo of the king up on the Wall who's eyes followed you round the room. We all ate together off of a a very big leaf everybody using their hands to eat, once again so glad to be vegetarian, can't be sure what was on the menu. I stuck to fruit and vegetables. I sat not only with all the family but also pigs chickens and a dog that would bite you as soon as look at you. Not having had my rabies jab I stayed well out of his way. After dinner people from the surrounding villages started to gather. I was not sure for what reason, then a fire was lit and the monks started to appear and chant, and what appeared to be the village elder. It turns out he was the village witch doctor who danced and span round and drank some potion from a cup. He span and span until he fell to the ground, he laid there for what seemed like an eternity, and then jumped up and chanted himself into a catatonic state. A little girl was bought forward in front of the witch doctor, he started to dance around her and then spat all over her. I found out this little girl had a problem with her eye and had been sent to the witch doctor to be cured. It was something in my life I thought I would never witness, it was mystical, enchanting, you felt intoxicated by the spell. There were times when I was petrified and maybe I still am a little. The fear of the unknown the spirits that they call upon. It is steeped in tradition, people out in remote villages are scared of the hospitals they see those as witch craft, so they continue to stay away an practise their witch craft. In the mean time though, children are dying because they are not receiving the correct medical care because the village people are scared of the unknown, the hospitals. Children die because of fear, so there is much outreach work been done to alleviate these fears. It will take some time for people to trust, but with brilliant healthcare projects that are out there and with love and care anything is possible.

A moment to stop and remember Dhar x

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