Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Final Day in Dili

We have finished our work in Timor Leste and the Mercy ship is now sailing toward Guam. We spent all morning yesterday cleaning up the unit and securing the pediatrics department for sea. We are headed towards a tropical storm and told that the seas have the potential to be very rough. This makes it more important than ever to secure everything in place and tie it down. So far, the waters have been calm. I was able to watch the sun set last evening from the deck, but the winds were definitely blowing. Blowing strong enough that my folder with homework blew open and papers started flying across the deck. Oops, so much for securing my personal belongings. Lesson learned!

My last day in Timor Leste (Monday) was a day off from the pediatric unit. I was forunate to hear about a small group of preventative health representatives meeting up with a USAID employee to visit a district about an hour away from Dili. We visited a community health center with actual buildings/rooms for visits with doctors and pharmacy pick ups. There is also a birthing center. This is a 3 room building for women to come for delivery. I learned that less than 30% of women go to facilities for births and the mortality rate is very high at the time for women and babies during child birth. There are also no Timorese doctors at this time. There was a Cuban doctor at this clinic, otherwise it was run by nurses and midwives. Many of the women who deliver have a neighbor come to assist with the delivery. We met a woman who delivered her 4th child the previous night.

I love the photo below of this sweet elderly gentleman. He saw the photo taken of him on my camera and got such a kick out. Katie snapped this photo of him with a smile on his face. The other pictures I have of him, he has a very serious face. You can't see his teeth, but if you could they would be stained red. Many of the adults chew on a red root called beetle root (not sure if that is how you spell it, but is how it sounds). The first time I saw it, I thought someone mouth/gums/lips were bleeding all over the place. I quickly learned that was not the case.

This is one of our translators. I gave him one of our LDS Charities shirts. He gave me his awesome hat in return. We were grateful for the translators that assisted us. Though there was some misinterpretation that took place, it was impressive to see these young high school age kids assisting us. In 2 years I can only imagine that the language abilities for translation will improve and more of these kids who were introduced to English on this ship will continue to study and get university degrees. There is a huge need in Timor for medical providers and people with innovative business ideas to help get the economy of this new country up and rolling. These kids are well on thier way to being the future leaders of this country.

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