Last week we traveled in an overnight train to the beautiful city of Ngaroudere. The north proved to be an incredible microcosm of tradition and culture unlike any other I have experienced. My host family was one of the most warm, welcoming, hard-working and kind group of people I’ve met while here; I feel so blessed to have been a part of their family for a week.
On my third day in Ngaroundere I found myself in a doctor’s office sitting across from a man who told me, “You have water poisoning and, oh yes, there is some malaria as well.” Say what now? “Oui, le paludisme. Malaria.” This was my first fore into the world of tropical diseases, and the experience was an adventure to say the least.
The two days and nights in the hospital with quinine drip-dropping into my hand gave much time for reflection upon issues of poverty, healthcare, and development in Cameroon… All three pose many problems and I really don’t have any answers. In fact, in some ways I fewer answers now than I did before coming to Cameroon. I am grateful to be exposed to the complexities of change in the developing world, but it makes solutions that much more difficult to envision.
I do know two things for sure after this experience: 1. Quinine makes you feel like crap. It’s the best medicine to treat malaria but it really sucks; and more importantly, 2. Malaria is totally treatable. No one should die from this easy-to-cure disease.
Check out this hilarious, awesome campaign to see how you can make a difference. Malaria-No-More and CollegeHumor.com have teamed up to create MALARIOUS– 24 videos of comedians doing crazy stuff (i.e. “Nick Offerman: Slam poem to bacon), pay whatever you can and you’ll get one of these videos and you will also pay for malaria treatment for a child in Africa.
Although the aforementioned problems are huge, and although sustainable, scalable solutions are difficult to put into action, each day in Cameroon convinces me more and more that a solution that saves even one life is a success.