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Published: February 19th 2015
Station 9 Queue
The early morning line up to get to an eye screening.
February 18, 2015 (Ntfonjeni, Swaziland) Early Wednesday morning, we met the 5:15 sunrise at Miracle Campus again to gather up the caravan and head to the opposite extreme of the country, the north eastern border town of Ntfonjeni. The names of the communities are cool, but seem to get less and less pronounceable as we get further away from the middle of the country!
It was a two hour drive through some of the most lush and spectacular valleys in the country that took us to the community school. The rooms were selected, and setup began like the workflow clockwork that TLC. Many long queues had already developed by the time we arrived…and they just kept on growing.
School children are all in uniform, and each school has a different color: blue, red, green, yellow and khaki. The local school colors were green and these were the first of the children to arrive, but as the morning passed by, another wave of yellow, then blue uniforms would arrive en masse
– 200 children at a time.
One thing you can say about the Swazi’s (both adults and children) is that they are orderly when lining up. The children
Station 9 Queue
...still lots to see.
are expected to do so in school activities, and even though lines are long, and they have to wait for a long time, they are quite orderly. The same went for the adults pressing to get into each of the nine clinic stations.
There were long lines waiting specifically for Station 9 – the eye room, a queue that developed early and long and maintained itself continuously till the sun set and it was too dark to read the eye chart any longer. We again saw an impressive array of pathology. One condition that was particularly frustrating and debilitating is vernal (allergic) keratoconjunctivitis. This allergic reaction in the eyes is presumably caused by the vegetation allergens and causes some potentially blinding and disabling inflammation in the eyes. The lack of available treatment options was even more challenging as we saw many corneas beginning to decompensate from the chronic inflammation. This affected both adults (seemingly less severe) and children (where we saw the worst cases).
As the eye clinic was pumping through cases, the other workstations were just as busy, and the general medicine clinic went well into the night – illustrating one of the core principles that The
Station 9 Queue
...and still going.
Luke Commission ascribes: we’ll stay till the last patient is seen.
It was a long, productive day. The Ntfonjeni outreach gave us yet another perspective on the vast population TLC reaches in Swaziland. The platform they have implemented provides ample opportunities to expand services one-by-one to systematically improve the public health of the country. The challenges are all there, yet with perseverance, faith, hard work, dedication, vision and a love for the people, the Luke Commission makes an impressive and lasting contribution to the health infrastructure of a country that less than a decade ago was doomed to extinction.
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