Chiara – Italian Nurse (2018)

This year, they dedicated their two weeks to the training of the hospital’s staff on teeth cleaning, teeth extraction, urological surgery (especially prostate surgery) and its post operatory care. The work schedule was intense but I was glad to participate and to feel welcomed in their equipe, all the effort was worth it.

Among all the patients we saw, I won’t easily forget Ginah. She’s a 27 years old girl (just 2 years older than me), has two children and she has been recovered for a dental abscess which caused her an huge infection in all the mediastinal area.

She couldn’t speak well because her neck was badly swollen and she was in pain but she was frequently asking about her recovery…needless to say I didn’t hold much hope for her although I was doing my best to heal her wound and the infection. I felt so impotent more than once, especially during the day of her fourth wound dressing when she had a huge bleeding. I wish I could make you see/understand how does it feel to be there during the emergency, plugging the heamorrhage that doesn’t stop, while this girl, terrified try to see/find reassurance in your eyes ‘cause she understood her condition turn unexpectedly critical. Well, I have it fixed in my memory: her look, her hands that hold on tight my arms and the same repeated question: “Am I gonna die? Vazaha – foreigner? Am I gonna die?”. I know how to behave in those moments, I studied it…you have to be calm, don’t let the stress/situation touch you; therefore you must focus on the patient, reassure her, organize your work and act fast; but when you know her life depends on you and you feel alone because all the other people are busy it’s easy to lose control. I was repeating her to be calm, to breathe, that I wouldn’t have left her alone and that she wouldn’t have died…but you know, it’s hard to sound reliable if you first don’t know what will happen; in hindsight, I might have said it more for myself than for her.

For the record I’m not working alone in the hospital; I took charge of Ginah when she arrived and she’s still one of my patients. In that period we had a lot of work in the hospital and everyone was really busy with all the other patients.

Well, luckily, Barbara, one of the Belgian nurses was passing by and saw me in need. We stopped the bleeding and we asked for the medical advice. The equipe accepted to help her without really knowing her survival possibilities; few hours later we were in the operatory theathre, where, under sedation, we cleaned all the cavity from the infection, remove her teeth and “bandaged her up.”

Since then we dressed her wound every two-three days, I’m not Vazaha – foreigner anymore, but I’m Cherie – darling and I am glad to inform you that Ginah is fine and almost healed!

Among all the memories I have about her I think that’s the best one: few days before the new year’s eve Ginah asked to go back home, to be with her children and her family just for a while and return here in Ampasimanjeva to continue the wound dressing. She was already fine so Doctor Martin, the head physician of the hospital, agreed to let her go and she came to the clinic to greet me before going.

We chatted a bit both happy for the news, then she stood in silence looking at me; all in a sudden she hugged me, hid her face in my uniform and bursted into tears. How intense was that moment…I was about to cry too! I thought I was lucky to have had the opportunity to make the difference for someone and feel it. It’s something I must be grateful for.

Throughout this all, I feel I still must say an huge THANK YOU to the belgian equipe, a blessing for this hospital. The few weeks they spent here they worked hard, tirelessly: besides Ginah, they saved another young girl’s life, they extracted teeth and visited more than 300 patients preventing the risk of teeth’s infection and abscess; they operated at least four patients every day training the local surgeon, the surgery’ staff and the post-operatory’s one so that today the hospital is able to autonomously perform the same operations.

Their work and their dedication inspired me. I hope once to be part of an equipe just like theirs. Thanks, thanks, thanks.

Many things have happened in those months…unfortunately what I can share in here is just a small piece of it. I’m wondering when all this will be over how many stories which deserve to be told I will collect?!

Can you understand now the quote I wrote in the beginning?

With all those continuous change, the daily meeting and exchange with this culture so different from mine/ours, all the different stories and situations I live, all this bustle of families, friends, people etc that come and go; it becomes a priority learn to be prepared for riotous and endless waves of transformation without any fear of being destroyed. I hope to succeed in this little by little and I wish the same for you all too: not to fear change, but to deal with them, investing more and more energies and time.

It’s already 11 months since my arrival here in Madagascar and I’m about to go back to Italy where I’ll stop for just few months …Yes, I decided to renovate my volunteer service, therefore I’ll come back to Ampasimanjeva to work in the hospital more or less another year.

Tratrin’ny ho avy dear friends! – Wish you all the best! With love,

Chiara Bezzi, Ampasimanjeva, 2018