Stepping back into the struggle: in some ways invigorating, the month in America now feels like a fog of politeness, a vague memory of general niceness that has been stripped back to the clarity of the battle for this not-yet-right world. But the struggle also wearies. In a few hours we will have been on the ground for one week. Perhaps the biggest loss: Kyomanuwa, the little boy whose picture I posted because I was fighting for his life against the ravages of rapidly progressive AIDS, sensing the persistence of his caring mother. I was dreading the news, and thankful to find him alive on my first day back, yet admitted to the hospital. His skin had healed some, I dared to hope. But by Friday he had lost ground and needed blood, and died an hour or so before we could get it from Bundibugyo, so that I got the news as I rushed the cooler of units into the hospital. Being permitted to see him and hope and then having him die I took hard. Pamela and I biked miles around village paths on Saturday looking for his home, we had a general idea of the village but took a long time to find the actual compound. By the time we arrived the burial was over and the guests had dispersed, it was only his mom lying on an old mattress on the dirt floor. We prayed for her heart, for her hope of seeing him in Heaven. She has only one child left.
But a glimpse yesterday of the way it should be—a baby was admitted with a severe abscess deep in his leg that was cutting off circulation to his foot. This tiny child may have Down Syndrome, looked weak and floppy and may not live long. But here is the hopeful thing: Jonah was there, I brought him in to see the baby, he was ready to take her to the theatre to perform surgery right away. And one of my students, Birungi, who wants to be a doctor, was doing rounds with me to learn something. I sent him up the road on my bike to collect a stronger antibiotic we have a small supply of at our house. It struck me that I was not alone in the way I would have been even a few years ago—here was the doctor we had all (and I mean the prayers of so many in America!!) worked to train, and here was my hope for the next doctor or clinical officer, and we were entering into the struggle for this baby’s life together. We have far to go, the corruption in the system is still so rampant and blatant and discouraging, injustice abounds. But a glimpse of the way it should be, and for that I’m thankful.