Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Herat City Hospital

I had the opportunity Monday to visit the City Hospital in Herat. The Afghan National Army brought blankets and warm clothing to give to the patients there, many of whom were recuperating from amputation of toes and feet.
This winter has been the coldest in most everyone's memory. The father of one of the local Afghans that works here is eighty-five years old and cannot recall a winter with as much snow or as severe of cold. The people in the city do pretty well, but those that live in outlying villages do not fare so well.
Most of the houses in the villages are made from mud adobe, which gradually soaks up the moisture from the snow and then collapses. Many of the round mud roofs have fallen in, despite the wide openings for drainage that are part of the construction. There are few houses with glass in the windows, rather the usual covering in this usually warm area is a light cloth or blanket over the window.
The more remote villages depend mostly on camel dung and the branches from low bushes for fuel to cook and heat. However with over a foot of snow on the ground, it is difficult to gather even the scant remaining fuel that is available, so many are without heat altogether...thus the sixty patients in the city hospital recovering from amputations. They have thirty more that will be housed in a corner of the polyclinic, once they move furniture out to make room.

When I came into the Afghan National Army hospital, where I usually work mentoring the medical staff, I was told by several of the staff that they had seen me on the news last night. Evidently, video was taken of us bringing the blankets and clothing to the patients and they caught me on tape shaking the hand of one of the patients and talking to him in Dari. So, I am a minor celebrity in Herat now. (Maybe I can get a copy of the tape to show when I go home.)