The Carrier of Christ

Walking with evident pain, a man came to the clinic in Waterloo. His face seemed to be the face of someone who fought with the hardest situations than life can bring. It was an expression of sadness, anguish, grief and pain; strong, constant and ceaseless pain. He greets with a handshake and then his hand to his heart- this is a sign of respect that locals use to show respect for friends and relatives. His hands were dirty but very strong, the kind of hands that a man who worked long time in the field has. He had a dirty yellowish bandage on the right leg, a mix of blood, soil and puss that gave a distinguished color and a very strong smell that automatically activates vomit reflex.

Kushe-o. Aw di de Docto. Hello, how is the day going, Doctor? He said in Krio.

Ten god tenki si. Aw yusef bro? kom naya. Praise God and how are you, I say trying to speak his Krio language. As a Guatemalan still learning American English, the whole scene is really something.

No gud se. Mi leg de art to mos. Aw no able fo work no mor. Bad, I have a strong pain in my leg that does´nt let me work

Ok, wetin na yu name? Ok, what is your name?

Cristopher

The name Cristopher came from the Greek: It means carrier of Christ. Certainly this man has Christ wherever he goes and also has his own cross to deal with. After I remove the bandage I could see the origin of his suffering. He had a bloody area of +- 15cm diameter, with damage of the epidermis and dermis tissue, it was very dirty with soil and remove grass and with a lot of fibrin and pus. “Thank God he did´t have Myiasis or necrosis,” I said to myself. The leg showed me not only just how bad his condition was but also how strong this man is. I cannot imagine how painful this wound is and how in the world he managed to work in the field and walk long distances under the intense sun without shoes. And.. he didn’t  cry out while I was taking the bandage off. Not a sound.

A get a motobike accident 2 months ago. I get boku pain and Aw no able fo slip na net. Help me a beg. - I had an accident with a motorcycle 2 months ago, the pain is strong, I don’t sleep at night. Please help me.

For God’s sake, 2 months ago? Why he didn’t visit a doctor, why did he wait until today? Why was he so irresponsible? Why? As a doctor these and other “why”  moments inevitably come to mind. I judge. I judge him and his bad condition. But as long as I have worked here and other places deep in poverty, I have come to understand  that things are not always as they seem. After he told me that he was fired from his job, he used all the money that he had to go to the public hospital in town. As soon he get inside he had to pay bribes to everyone until the money was finished. Even worse, they never allowed him to see the doctor. Finally he had no alternative other than comeback home and trying to survive.

Wetin mek you no bin na hospital? - Why didn’t  go to the hospital? I ask in Creole.

Docto, Aw don go na hospital, I lef boku money yanda. Di money don don. Aw no get money, I get fo chop and I get 2 pikin na hos. Ungry art pas mi leg. -Doctor I went. I spent a lot of money there. Now I don´t have money. But I do have 2 kids at home. They need to eat. You know, their hunger is more painful than my leg.

 Cristofer (with his permission).

Cristofer (with his permission).

 

I asked Daniel to assist cleaning the wound. He was as surprised as me about Christopher’s condition and how he dealt with it. We clean the wound with Saline solution 0.9%, Povidone and topic antibiotics, we remove the fibrin and cover the wound with a clean bandage. I gave him double antibiotic coverage and pain killers. We knew that this would not help with the regeneration of his skin but at least we could avoid the things from getting worse. Since then he has being coming every 3 days for medication and cleaning of his wound. Every time Cristofer leaves the clinic he smiles, says thanks, and gives me his blessings.

I understand his position; he is one of many Sierra Leoneans that suffer chronic conditions. This is the sad reality of many of the humble people in Africa. The system leaves them without alternatives; hopeless they have to go back to their village to pray for a miracle or die. Perhaps we cannot help all of them, we are a just a small and fragile boat in a stormy sea, but we can try as hard as we can with what we have been given. We can try to be of use for someone who is about to drown.

Support this and other cases by donating medical supplies such as:

  • Hydrocolloid dressing duoderm.

  • Minor Surgical equipment

  • Nylon sutures all sizes

  • Vycril sutures all sizes

Contact us. There are many ways to try hard on behalf of those who suffer. 
 

 Doc Salsa and Dan work on a patient at the Waterloo Clinic, Sierra Leone.

Doc Salsa and Dan work on a patient at the Waterloo Clinic, Sierra Leone.

Sergio Castillo