The first day of clinic is always a mix of emotions. There has been such a build up leading up to the moment we open and see our first patients. Pulling up to the clinic site and seeing all the people sitting under the tree waiting for us to start is always a nerve wracking moment. All the nerves dissipate as the day goes on and we can start to see the impact we are truly making. I love interacting with all the different people. From the elders of the community, to the littlest of babies. Seeing the smiles on their faces, being present with them, playing with the children at the end of the day- these are all of my favorite things. Being in these moments I am reassured as to why I am called to be here. Today I had an experience that I know I will never forget.
This afternoon, I was in the wound clinic caring for this family who had scabies. The one little girl was so embarrassed because it was on her face and in her ear that she came to clinic with a long sleeve t-shirt covering her face. We were able to get them all cleaned up but couldn’t send them back home in their clothes that they came in. We brainstormed ideas: should we put them back in their clothes and have their mom change them out of it as soon as they got home? Can we try to find something in the clinic we could fashion into an outfit? Lucy popped her head in to see how things were going and she was quick to offer one of her chintenjis (a wrap worn by women) she had with her. How to make one chintenji work for two little girls. We decided to cut it in half and try to make something work just to get them home. Seeing how much better these little girls felt after getting them all cleaned up and dressed in their new “dresses” really emphasized what we are doing here matters. It wasn’t anything life shattering, but it was enough to put a smile on their faces. I just wanted to let these girls who were so ashamed of their skin, know how beautiful they truly are. I asked our translator Max tell them how beautiful they looked. The words for you look beautiful in Chichewa is, “Mwachena” . The little girl left with her head held high, face uncovered. Showing her true beauty to all.
Written by Lauren Deddens