The day was a production line of gathering patient data - height, weight, sputum samples. We were expecting about 100 patients and were shocked when around 300 turned up. These people are desperate to get onto one of the treatment programs. For many of them, it is their best chance at life. Patients already in treatment were trucked in from around the provinces as it is easier to do them all in a few central locations as opposed to going to each centre. Current patients were presented with their medication and the winter warmer package (which consisted of a warm coat, long johns, socks etc). It was so beautiful to see faces light up with smiles and joy ... and when the medication was presented ... hope.
The magic moment of the day was meeting the Dongdaewon patients who had come over for testing. Someone told me they had arrived and I turned to look for them. Before I saw them, they saw me. I heard someone say the school and teacher in Korean and when I turned to see, I saw a queue of patient people ... their faces breaking into smiles ... eyes intense as they bowed towards me and said "thankyou, thankyou" in Korean. What a humbling thing ... I know that I was honored to stand as a representative of our community and see the fruit of their efforts and hard work in the faces of patients who were living. This past two years we have provided medication for three MDR patients in addition to the resupply kit for Dongdaewon. Two of these patients are now testing negative for TB.
There are a few vehicles on the roads, but not many of them are modern. We saw many trucks broken down on the road, with people under the hoods working on repairs. Fields were being plowed, mostly by bullock. They wear a wooden yoke with wooden traces. We saw the occasional tractor, but they look to be very old. Eugene Bell provide small chinese tractors to different care centres to assist them in patient nutrition.
One of the saddest things at this care centre was seeing the graves at the back. All those bumps in the picture are the graves of patients and staff who have died.
All in all a good day ... each day we are out, I see more and more the importance of the work Eugene Bell do, and the vital difference they are making in the lives of people up here. Bono once said, "where you live, should no longer determine IF you live". We with much, have a responsibility to those with nothing. Because we can do something, we must.