24 June 2009

Sabatia Eye Clinic

I went with Sr. Catharine to the Sabatia Eye Clinic with seven of our children this morning.  Those in need of any sort of eye help attend the clinic.  Angela and David will make the referral and Catherine will drive a group over whenever there is a need.  Sue has gone to the past few, but being that she is in Nairobi, I went along.

We left by eight and were there by nine.  After a check-in the group was split in two.  I went with the young kids to the low vision area and Catherine with the older ones to the doctors.  I knew I was meant to accompany them into their consultations with the nurse, but I hesitated.  I felt as if I was invading.  My role was to hear about what was taking place so that the information can then be relayed to the therapists and Catherine for the sake of finance and care.  However, I did not like sitting and eavesdropping, let alone asking questions about what was going on.  It seems wrong that I should be there during an examination.  Nothing personal was revealed, but I do not think that I should have been there.

Often, I feel as if I have inserted myself into the lives of the people living here.  I choose to come here and have placed myself amongst the community.  I was never invited.  An out-of-place feeling is pervasive for this reason.  Race and culture matter little.  It is the fact that I am here because I can.  I am here because of my relative wealth (more like thanks to my generous supporters).  I have lamented my feeling of being an outsider, but today highlighted this feeling more than ever.  I continue to be a guest who is allowed unfettered access to Malava.  Being in the minority means that I get preferential treatment.  I am now troubled by the guilt that I can always leave.  I can decide today to go home and will be home by the end of the week.  I have choice and am starting to resent the fact that I do.

I was told that I would return home with a great appreciation for all that I have.  I have found that I appreciate many things but am repulsed by an equal amount.  When limited in terms of availability of goods and finance, consumption becomes sickening.  All the things that I cannot have are unnecessary.  I fear the return to an existence as such.

Reconciling my anxieties with duty, we pressed on until about noon.  We should have been done an hour earlier, but an inept nurse caused two of our kids to go back to the doctor due to her inability to perform a correct eye test with glasses.  On the bright side, I did get to photograph some new flowers.  The lighting was terrible and I apologize for sub-standard camera work, but it will have to do.

In the afternoon, I was semi-stranded at the compound when I had to print pictures for Joy and rain came.  Thankfully, Sister Jane was kind enough to bring me some tea and groundnuts while I waited.  When Joy arrived, she generously offered me a ride home.