Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Buduburam Liberian Refugee Camp
Today our outreach took us to Buduburam Refugee Camp,about an hour outside of Accra. The camp was constructed over 15 years ago, by the UNHCR for refugees fleeing from Liberia during the civil wars, however it has become a permanent resident with about 40,000 people, still receiving refugees from Liberia. The camp consists of narrow roads filled with mud huts on either side, between the huts vendors have their stores set up with about any item needed. Our driver maneuvered around the tight roads, wide enough for our van to barely squeeze through. When we got to the church we unloaded all our gear and met the Buduburam volunteers. Crystal Eye Clinic has trained some of the refugee camp residents to do the registration and visual acuity test, so when we arrived the patients were waiting for an exam and the dispensing of the medicine or glasses. We met George from the camp, who I believe was the main volunteer there. He helped translating when necessary. Our first patient was a five year old girl our doctor examined her and had an upset look when he finished. He said she had cancer and needed to see Dr. Clarke at Crystal Clinic tomorrow. He would then assess the stage the cancer was at and make a recommendation. I gave her some stickers and bubbles and then she sat on my lap, while she waited from her mother to get an eye exam. The whole time I was thinking she was my daughter’s age and I felt so helpless at this point. It is so heartbreaking to see kids affected with any disease at such a young age. Hoping all the best for her.
We worked only for about 3 hours at the clinic, saw about 80 patients, a lot less than yesterday. I couldn’t help but wonder every time I saw a scar on a patient if it was due to the civil war in Liberia. Just can’t imagine what these people have been through. They had such a great spirit to them. We saw the last patient and it was still light out! As we drove thru the village, little children were waving at us, very cute. We got stuck in traffic on the way back home, but it was nothing like yesterday. Tomorrow will be my last outreach clinic before I head home. I leave close to midnight on Thursday, so will have the day to explore the area a little bit.