The Toucan and the Puppets – a post from Georgie

Georgie writes:

I think this morning had to be one of my stranger days, and I can’t help but come back to the same nagging thought of what would I be doing, what would all my colleagues now be doing, what would my husband be doing if, somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Guinea, way back in December, a two year old boy hadn’t eaten a strange piece of bushmeat.

If he hadn’t done that I wouldn’t be sitting in an old conference room in the middle of Freetown talking about using puppets to help children work through their grief and watching a colourful toucan tap at the window.

Would Ian be sitting in Hereford writing, would we be separated still?

At my most dreamy times, usually brought on by this extreme tiredness I’ve felt since hitting my 44th straight day of work, I start to think what I would be doing if Ebola hadn’t happened.

I certainly would not be involved in building an ebola treatment centre and working out how to run a psychosocial team in the low risk zone while caring for those in the high risk zone.

Pull out of my day dreams and that is where I find myself now – looking at the construction of an enormous ebola treatment centre – three wards and a triage area that, I’m afraid, will be the last place that many of the patients will see. In July this year I would pass this patch of land on my way from Makeni to Freetown. Back then it was heavily wooded but now it has been flattened and the three large white tents stand out for miles around.

We are doing dummy runs for the nurses and WASH teams to practice whilst the construction continues all around us. Nurses and WASH teams are dressed in the scary looking PPE and when you stand in front of them teaching the only thing you can see are the eyes – no other features on people’s faces, you have no idea who they are at all. They all complain of the heat and before long you can see their goggles fogging up, until the only feature that makes them look human disappears.

None of us feel completely ready, and it’s hard to know what we should be expecting. What will happen, who will we see, how many will come, has the hot spot has passed to a different area?

So many questions and no answers. Just going to have to live this one and find out.

I spend my time with different people from so many professional backgrounds: we have logisticians, doctors, nurses, epidemiologists, public health people – you name it they are here and all of us because that one little boy ate something way out in the bush, far from here.

Despite the stress and worry and tiredness there are little bits of the days that I enjoy, and I enjoy talking to Ian through the wonders of modern technology. I like thinking what life would be like if I were home.

I enjoy the little moments I get when I can run away and be alone. In the guesthouse compound in Lunsar there is a tall corn field in the middle with long grasses and corn where I have discovered you can hide for periods of time and enjoy some respite.

I enjoy the electrical storms we still have most nights – the fork lightning lights up the sky – and I enjoy my new PSS scrubs we have had made for my team. The small things keep you going and keep you distracted from what is really happening – I love thinking about the puppets and watching the toucan.

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. So after all the hard work, the real help — and My God they need the help, the counselling, the moral and physical support. Georgie couldn’t do better, so peace in a cornfield, and a friendly toucan, both brilliant ideas. Well done Gorgeous and well told again Ian.
    Philip

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    1. Thanks Philip, but all Georgie’s words this time!

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      1. Your kidding. Georgie is an author too!! Beautifully written. Very honest of you to confess! Philip

        Like

  2. Ben says:

    I like this thoughtful post. I’m also curious about the origin of the picture. Happy Thanksgiving to you in Guinea.

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    1. Thanks Ben! The picture is a sketch I made one afternoon outside a health care centre in rural Sierra Leone whilst Georgie was doing ‘real work’ inside. The iPad proved to be a great ice-breaker with some of the Sierra Leonean kids who came to see what I was up to!

      Liked by 1 person

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