Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Absolute chaos...

Tuesday morning.
We drove by the gate and saw a huge crowd of people.
It looked like we again had 100 children at the gate.
I already knew I would have to send many away.
Especially since I am alone in the clinic this week.

One of my nurses and I made our way outside the gate to hand out tickets.
Many mornings we've had large crowds and it often took time to form a line.
This morning however, it was more chaotic.
People just weren’t lining up; they were on the sidewalk, on the road, everywhere.
And they were loud.

One granny who often comes with her grandson, told me ‘boys’ are ‘selling spaces’.
They come early and tell moms that arrive that they are too late, that the clinic spots are full.
Apparently they line up rocks on the side walk saying those spots are spoken for.
They tell moms that if they still want to get a spot, they need to pay.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
But by the looks of things, this explained the madness.

Finally the first ten people were lined up so I started handing out tickets.
I got to number 24 but then stopped.
On all sides I was surrounded; by men, women, children.
Yelling, screaming, pushing, shoving.
Children were knocked over, being passed along the line screaming.
Others were being squashed.

I felt like I was in a zoo.
These people were behaving like animals.
Handing out the tickets was like throwing meat to a pack of wolves.
I couldn’t believe what was happening.
I felt like I was watching a movie; such chaos.
I ducked behind the gate again for some security.

I tried to talk to the people.
But talking at the top of my lungs I knew only a few people could hear me.
I felt I was yelling at those few at the front and thought 'this isn’t working'.
I needed to pause, to think, to find a solution.
I let in the first 24 patients with tickets and then closed the gate.
As I walked to the courtyard I was overtaken with emotion.

I went back to talk to the 24 patients; to hear their story.
They acknowledged the buying/selling, although none admitted paying to get in.
I told them how sad it was to see people act this way.
That I absolutely love working here, but not when it comes to this.
Such madness, selfishness, anger, frustration.
My next thought was: what now?

Some staff said to close the clinic, but I had 24 inside and wanted to see more.
I didn’t want the children to suffer because of their parents’ madness.
We went to the gate to hand out more tickets.
A difficult task in all the craziness.
Every time the gate opened to let a patient in, the whole crowd pushed forward.
Much like a stampede, squashing little sick children.

We tried to hand out tickets fast.
Once 45 patients were inside we closed the gate.
Done for the day (with handing out tickets that is).
A few minutes to cool down, and then work would start.
Unfortunately we did turn away about 50 kids.
Some lingered at the gate till as late as 11:30, I could see them from my window.

To sum it up; it was a stressful start.
The ‘system’ we’ve used for 3 years obviously does not work anymore.
The challenge now is finding out what will work.
We have a new strategy for tomorrow; we’ll see what happens.
Unfortunately it seems like whatever system you use, people will find a way around it.
But rest assured, we will keep trying.

1 comment:

Gabriela García Calderón said...

I'm pretty sure you kept trying, as I've alredy read in the following post.
Regards from Peru.

~ Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly. micah 6:8 ~