A walk in another’s shoes

Shoes

It is sometimes easy to tell others how to face their challenges when we do not have to ourselves. In a class leading up to this trip, we discussed ways to improve the education system in Malawi. Now that we are here, we see that these problems are not so easily fixed. Sometimes we have to take a walk in another’s shoes to truly experience the challenge.

Today, I did not walk in the shoes of a citizen of Malawi, but I did see a hospital that sent shivers down my spine. I only saw this hospital from an outsider’s perspective; I can only imagine what it would be like to walk in the shoes of a patient.

When we first arrived at the hospital, I felt very akward. There was a large crowd of people waiting for medical care (we did not take any pictures of the hospital out of respect for the people).The entire country of Malawi only has about 40 doctors, giving a 1:42,000 doctor to person ratio. One person commented, “In the United States, this building would be condemned in an instant.” This very small hospital had 1 doctor/administrator, and maybe 5 nurses on staff. The run down building contained only around 25 cots; I did not see any of the modern medical equiptment we take for granted. The patients visitors wait outside and also act as nurses. The family is responsible for the food, sheets, and clothing of the patient. How can the most basic health care be provided in a country that lacks doctors, medical tools, and an infrastructure? I do not have the answer, but after visiting the hospital today, I recognize the need.

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