|A Chinese Medical Worker in Africa|
Source: Guangxi News Net
Reported by: Lin Xuena
It is a special group of people and their stories in
He is a little known anesthetist sent by his home
1. Away from Home for a Dream
Hiking along the verge of
30 years later, the tender years’ passion was almost worn out by the mundanity of the daily life and triviality of the working routine.
At a time when the dream was seemed to be increasingly childish and unreachable, fate came to knock at the door, in his heart.
April 2004, when the weather was transitioning from cold to warm, as Zhong, working at the Second People’s Hospital of Nanning, was preparing for a procedure in the operation room, the section chief rushed in and said, “I have just got words that an anesthetist is needed to work in Niger for two years. Being single, perhaps you could give it some thought.”
At 33, Zhong was seeing a girl and if he decided to go at that particular moment, the prospect of the romance would be very dim. Moreover, his greatest concern then was his mother who had been living with his elder brother at their ancestral home of Longzhou until the brother was killed in an accident recently. Being the only surviving son, what he was supposed to do? He called his sister and she hesitantly questioned, “What if something should ....?”
As the deadline for application was approaching, Zhong struggled in the depth of his mind, back and forth, with his long buried childhood dream . After a long inner-conflict, he decided to have a chat with his family. Following rounds of weighing and balancing, he handed in his application on the last day.
Zhong thus signed up to join the Chinese medical aid team to
2. National Influence for a Sense of
Zhong found that the “country of sunshine and heat” was located on the brim of
Following a protracted journey, the 11 members of the Chinese medical aid team arrived at the totally unfamiliar place. Their eyes were met with bleak streets and shabby allies, parallelly rampant were the scorching sun and endemics. Despite the fact that the
The month of March brings forth the feared Ramadan-Asia Monsoon when sandstorms would attack for about 2 months almost incessantly with sand grains brought by strong gales eclipsing the sun even during daytime. Several fellow team members fell victims to malaria and almost everyone was suffering from diarrhoea because of the mildewy rice they had to eat. Later, their diet changed to sweet potatoes and potatoes, and before long, constipation started to set in. The team members began losing weight for malnutrition. “I lost some 5 kilos or more,” Zhong recalls. Soon he had to find a hammer and nail to open a new hole on his belt and as he was at it, the others all came asking for help. “All of us ‘succeeded’ in shedding some weight!”
As hunger and diseases were part of life at the poverty stricken place, no one even knew that a greater disaster was looming up quietly.
They began hearing news of deaths of starvation from the nearby villages in April 2005. However, in the beginning, as infrastructure of communications was lacking, Zhong’s fellow team members and himself, who were busy with their routines in the operation room, merely found they had to deal with rapidly rising numbers of patients. Not until they heard the BBC news when they were eventually certain that the gravest famine in the history of
His team decided to go on a search and rescue mission for survivors in the villages. As they arrived in a village called Sirandaga (transliteration), they found it all quiet except for the howling birds on a leafless elm. All of a sudden, a villager burst out of his muddy hut and pleaded for help to save his dying child, seeing the approaching Chinese doctors. As they stepped into the hut, they found a baby girl huddling in the lap of her mother. Zhong and his colleagues raised about 20,000 West African francs among themselves to send the girl to the hospital immediately, as the impoverished family was penniless. Thanks to the timely intervention, the little girl survived.
As they continued the search, the seriousness of the disaster began dawning on them. Despite the intense sun, the villages were shrouded under tragedies day in and day out, with 3.6 million people being affected by the famine and one fourth of the children under 5 years of age killed by malnutrition. Although the Chinese medical aid team did everything they could, including raising money for the children’s treatment, it was too little to save them all.
The Chinese doctors worked round the clock in the operation room during the famine and fellill one after another when the crisis was over. As the villagers learned of the dire situation, they brought whatever little was still left, peanuts and potatoes, to the Chinese medical team’s aid and refused to go until the food was accepted.
3. Meaning of Life for a Sense of Responsibility
In a sunny and warm afternoon of 2008, Danial, a British friend of Zhong’s, came to visit and Zhong told him about his
The friend’s advice struck a chord in Zhong’s heart. However, being a medicine professional, writing was seemed a bit far-fetched to him. Nonetheless, as he opened his diaries written in
Unforgettable was the scene of helping his African brethren with their harvest under the blistering
The scene of the locals never laying a finger on the wild animals even in the bad famine;
The scene of little children dying in their mothers’ arms for the lack of water;
The scene of his fellow team members endeavoring to save the famine struck villagers with half-empty stomachs;
And the scene of ....
Zhong wrote a post in English with a couple of photos of the Chinese medical aid workers in
The online click volume, however, can never dwarf the fact that
As the first literary reportage ever on the Chinese medical workers in
Two months prior to winning the Prize, Zhong embarked on yet another trip for Africa, in July 2012, and this time to Comoro Islands in East Africa on the Indian Ocean.
In 8 years’ time, Zhong has transformed himself from a bachelor to a father. Being a father now, his journey to