Friday, October 5, 2007

A different reality

At the house where I live, you know someone is sick when they don’t show up to eat for a few days. (I’ve explained before that the house is home to many people – extended members of the family, friends, etc – who don’t actually live here, but just come to eat). One week, Alioune Sow had not shown up for a few days, and le vieux (the father of the house) said he must be sick. Sure enough, when we finally saw him days later, it turned out he had had malaria.

For a disease that kills more children in Africa than AIDS, people treat it so casually! “Yah, I had malaria….” If it wasn’t so sad it would be funny. But it is so sad – because this same disease which is easily treated in a few days is one of the top killers in Africa because so many people don’t have access to the treatment, or aren’t even educated enough to know they need it (they think malaria can be healed through traditional means).

I've been sick the last couple days with a cold... let's hope it's not malaria! (joking Mom, joking)

I think also of the flooding in West Africa. This rainy season has been the most damaging in years, and flooding has affected close to 700,000 in the region (destroyed their homes, washed away their livestock, submerged their farms, etc). Close to 200 people have died in West Africa alone… imagine, DIED… from the walls of their home crumbling on them, or from drowning. In Canada we would never see rain as anything more than an inconvenience. Even here in Dakar, there has been heavy rain, but nothing like in other countries – but it easily could have been. Two years ago, Dakar saw horrible flooding. This year, it’s elsewhere, but it still hits pretty close to home. And people here just see it as a regular part of life. ‘Yup, there’s gonna be flooding. We might have to move to higher ground for a while, and then we’ll come back to our homes.’ (This touches on a whole other issue, which is that people in the region have not yet realized the seriousness of these floods, and have not begun taking preventative measures to deal with them). I have written so many flood stories for IRIN, it’s kinda become my beat. So I have a lot to say on the subject!

Anyways, all this to say that this continent lives a completely different reality.

1 comment:

Natasha said...

Hi Heba. It is really crazy to see how different regions have such different realities. I like to sit and ponder how certain regions developed their customs and mindset. To us it may seem so strange but people usually have a logical explanation if you can get it out of them.
In terms of medicine, Korea is the antithesis to Dakar. If I cough once at work I am usually whisked off to at least one doctor, and sometimes taken to a specialist. It's crazy. But the logic there is that Koreans don't believe in sick days. It is your duty to work 6 or 7 days a week so your health is extremely important.
Anyways, just wanted to say hi. Sorry for rambling on....