I knelt next to the 35 year old man with tears welling in my eyes. I was attempting to use my limited Malagasy language skills to explain his tough decision– lose his infected leg to amputation or lose his life once the infection spreads. Volunteers shared these difficult prognoses many times during the 2 weeks we served as translators for Caring Response Madagascar Foundation (CRMF) – an incredible group of doctors and nurses from Cincinnati, Ohio who travel across the world once a year to help the Malagasy people.
Throughout my time as a PCV I’ve often been frustrated by the quality of health care. The doctors/nurses seem to lack training and bedside manner, and people are over prescribed for every ailment – band aids to long term problems meant to appease the patient but not actually solve the problem. Illnesses that could be easily treated in America are oftentimes death sentences in Madagascar. Of course this is all my personal perspective but I know many volunteers share this sentiment.
That’s why when I learned about a mission of 10 medical professionals from America coming to Madagascar for 2 weeks I was so eager to help. I was eager to see people from my region receive the treatment and attention they deserve. And they did.
Over the course of 10 days the CRMF team organized 6 free medical clinics during which several hundred patients were seen and treated for free. And in some serious cases where treatment was more intense and required ongoing care, the doctors were generous enough to open their own pockets and pay for their care.
As translators we were faced with delivering difficult news, explaining rare conditions, and identifying every ailment. From cirrhosis of the liver to heart failure, tuberculosis and 3rd degree burns there were moments of the week that brought us all to tears. But it wasn’t all sad. In fact there were many happy moments – moments where patients happily left the clinic after being diagnosed and treated; after being listened to and cared for by people who had their best interests at heart.
It was a life changing experience and one I’ll never forget. Thanks CRMF!