This post is a summary of a trip that I took to a small village Eyangchang near the city of Mamfe. I originally posted it on my previous blog on June 19, 2015.
The first adventure was getting there. We drove 6 hours from Yaounde to Bafoussam. Then we took a bus from Bafoussam to Bamenda for about 2.5 hours, and then took a two hour van ride from Bamenda to Mamfe. Finally, we took another short van ride from Mamfe to the the house where we would be staying.
We finally got to the village. Neatly groomed, but there was not much grass in the front yard.
The drugs were transported by suitcase. There were a lot of suitcases.
This is the main group that I traveled with, helping to set up the free pharmacy. My index finger also made it into the lower left-hand corner of the photo, which makes this our best group photograph.
There were also two really cute kittens. One of them stayed in the appointment room for one of the days. The bottom one is about six inches long from nose to tail.
Our fearless leader Dr. Gabriel, directing traffic.
I managed to take a legitimately good photograph of medical student Elisee sitting at our set-up pharmacy.
A lot of people showed up.
At the end of the day we would eat dinner at one of the village houses. This is the group washing their hands in a bowl. Fresh water is added from the pitcher.
The chief of the village tried on some glasses.
A typical interaction between me and a local (future Doctor George). Remember that if you are in Africa and have a collared shirt, always button the top button. And if you have a zipper, make sure that the zipper is all the way up.
This is the tribal council. They are the group that runs the village, and made the decision to allow us to come. They were actually open to a lot of criticism for allowing us to come. Rank seems to be determined by hats.
You might even be wondering what I thought about the trip. I experienced a ton of new things and I want to think about them more before publishing too much. In the short term at least, this trip has caused me to move further from pursuing the study of medicine and move towards learning more about how people from around the world connect with God.
The reason that this has decreased my interest in medicine is because medical missions trips do not seem to be sustainable. The medications got here in a suitcase from the United States. We gave people medication for a few days, but their medications will run out soon, and many of them will not be able to continue to afford their medications. People were very grateful for our service, but in many ways I feel that our service did not actually cause much long term change is people’s health.
I have also been able to think about how I connect with other people. In a medical mission, the doctor gets to see a patient for a very limited amount of time. Every extra second that the doctor spends talking with a patient means that all of the other patients need to wait an extra second. If a doctor spends an extra fifteen minutes educating a patient about why it is bad for them to stop taking their high blood pressure medication, then that is 15 minutes * 60 people waiting in line to see the doctor adds up to 15 hours of lost human productivity. I value longer substantive relationships, so this fast-pace was extremely mentally draining for me.
I also got to observe spiritual counseling of the patients. I watched pastors and people who are titled prophets casting demons out of people. But, I was unable to see anything that was obviously supernatural. I saw some people falling over, and a lot of yelling from the pastors, but nothing really like what you might come to expect from low-budget western horror movies. Some of the people who were said to be demon-possessed seemed to me to just be mentally handicapped. However, everybody else in the room seemed to be completely convinced that miracles were happening, and even the patients seemed to be grateful for having demons cast out of them. This is definitely an area that I want to know more about.