this story is by Susan Jergesen, one of the volunteers here…I thought it was really well written and very articulate, therefore I wanted to post:

The Story of a Small Boy

Like a statue, he’d been sitting in the hospital’s over-crowded waiting room since early that morning, silently waiting for his turn to be seen by one of the clinic’s few doctors. His wide eyes were tinged with pain and fatigue, and it was obvious that he was scared, scared frozen. I watch him all that morning and into the afternoon as I ushered patient after patient in and out of the examining rooms. I kept looking for his parents or the adult that surely was with him, but saw no one, and when it was his turn, he walked slowly into the room, all alone. As he stood shyly in front of the doctor, guarding his right arm with its crooked angle close to his skinny chest, big tears began to gather in his eyes and his lower lip quivered. He was desperately trying to stay brave. But in that moment, that moment when his pain, his hunger and his fatigue must have collided hard up against his tender soul shaken by its first time’s fear of the vast unknown, the glistening tears overflowed, running down his soft little cheeks and falling on the floor, in silence.

This 4 year-old boy had broken his arm two weeks before. Early, in the dark of this very morning, his mother had put him on the bus in the care of the driver, to travel the long 200 miles to the hospital. She’d spent the past weeks working long hours and borrowing, trying to get enough money for bus fare. At last, she’d had saved enough, but just for the boy. He was still her baby, but he was in bad pain and she wanted it to stop, and there was no other way. So fighting back her tears lest he see and be afraid, she sent him off into the still dark of the day, to seek help, alone.

He was admitted to the hospital late that afternoon by the gentle, young medical officer and sent without a whimper of protest to the pediatric ward to wait the 2 weeks until it was his turn for surgery, necessary now because of the delay. It would then be another 2 or 3 or 4 weeks until someone could come and pick him up. For all this time, a certain eternity to him, the hospital would be his home, the Sisters, his sole source of comfort and the other patients, his brothers. And he, still fresh out of his mother’s arms would go through it all with barely a whimper. I was told that would have been remarkable, except that he was not just any small boy, he was a Xhosa boy.

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