Operation Plateau – Experience and Confidence

Marks journalling… Before I came to Pakistan I thought that I would leave here having an extremely rewarding experience. As time wore on I began to think more and more that the rewarding experience would escape me. I would do my shift, eat then sleep. As the weeks went on, days would blur, every day being the same as the last except the noticeable difference in sunlight and temperature. I felt disconnected from the people and our work, only escaping camp a few times to go for a brief walk through the small town. My big opportunity finally came for that experience that I wanted so much. I was asked if I would like to join one of the mobile medical teams going up into the mountains. Of course my heart leapt for the idea and I said, “Yah sure, that would be great.” trying not to act too excited. This was my big opportunity! The night before I made sure all my kit was ready to go; preparing as if for a grand adventure. And it was!

The next morning brought some small delays, but none of that dulled my enthusiasm, which I did not hide as well as I would have liked. We made it to the airfield by 10 am and were flying high over Garhi Dupatta 15 minutes later. We were dropped at a village called Toki Shekhan. After the initial welcoming crowd had dispersed, there was a peaceful quiet, one without generators, horns and traffic. Within an hour we had selected a set up spot for our mobile clinic and began seeing people from the local area. I began that morning doing triage of sorts, getting the names, ages, and complaints of the people coming, and moving the serious cases to the beginning of the line. The local mayor was of tremendous help in this regard. He knew every person there by name.

In the afternoon I began to embark on the truly rewarding part of my experiences here. I was helping draw up the vaccinations. Later when I had built up the courage, I was actually vaccinating people. I personally did somewhere from 20-30 in part or whole. I felt bad and discouraged at first when due to my inexperience probably I caused more pain than was necessary to do the job. As the day progressed I grew more confident and competent to do the job. That evening as we enjoyed our humble meal of rations, I felt that I had really accomplished something.

The beautiful terrain that was before us only exemplified the feeling of accomplishment; huge mountains falling down to deep crevices illuminated with the remnants of dieing sun’s last rays. As night fell, we received a surprise; the locals had shown up with a huge meal of brotta (a flat bread fried in grease), rice and chicken with broth. I was a little hesitant to join in at first. We were told right from the start of this mission what kinds of illnesses we could receive from eating local food. However after seeing some of the medics join in on the meal, and with some urging, I dove in. It was by far the best meal I had in weeks, and was complemented by a nice brew of Chi tea. After this feast, we enjoyed the rest of the evening sitting around the campfire talking with the locals. It doesn’t get any better than that ~ sitting around campfire in the Himalayan Mountains, enjoying local cuisine, and talking with people who don’t even speak the same language as you.

The next morning we continued with our work, finishing up around noon. The village we were placed in was not checked out before we arrived so many of the sick and injured had left for treatment already. It was impractical to move our location for another day at this point in time so the decision was made to go back to camp early. While we waited for the helicopter to pick us up we were thanked many times over by the locals. They were very appreciative of the work we did there. I must have received dozens of handshakes and words of appreciation.

The helicopter arrived in a windstorm of dirt and leaves, we piled in, leaving as quickly as we came. I do not remember the names of the people we left behind there, and I will probably never see them again, but I will never forget their faces and how thankful they were for what we brought them.

This is why we scrapbook! Keeping memories alive for our children and grandchildren. Showing them who we are/were and what we valued – what really was important in our lives. It has nothing to do with material possessions.

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