Happy 4th of July!
I had an amazing day in Sumba. I woke up at 5:15 AM to go stand-up paddle boarding down the river. The paddle ended at the beach. Along the way, we saw many traditional Sumbanese villages. Women were washing clothes, 8-year-old boys were washing their horses and men were harvesting rice patties near the water. We saw lizards the size of my arm. We paddled through rapids and fell off a few times. We watched the sun rise and swam under palm trees that had broken off the bank. A very peaceful trip all around!
I was dropped off at the Sumba Foundation office on the way home to meet up with Rainy. Rainy and I developed more survey questions focusing on the mothers–education level, marrying age, etc. Then we left on a 26 kilometer rocky road trip to the local town, Wakabubak. I was really impressed with the amenities in the town. It was filled with stores imported from China. There were soccer fields, two hospitals, many churches, a police station, courthouse, bank and classic Indonesian food restaurants.
We stopped by the government hospital for which Margarita works. I was so happy to finally see her again after 5 years. We gave each other a huge hug and talked through Rainy who translated for us. She was dressed in a classical white nurse uniform triaging patients. Margarita said she couldn’t be happier. She loves nursing, she helps pay for her parents and she still lives in her village. Margarita left the SF clinics for the bigger government hospital because she is a “VIP nurse.” Not sure what that is, but it sounds good to me. Margarita now has a secure job and is still working for her people. She works at the SF clinics in the morning if she has night shifts at the hospital. I’m going to visit Margarita at her house sometime this week to say hi to her parents.
We then explored the two hospitals. Both had the typical departments–ER, labor & delivery, pediatrics, ICU, etc. The hospitals housed at least 6 patients per room. There is no circulation whatsoever and dogs meandering around. Not much sanitation or hygiene to say the least. We roamed the different departments. I observed some very sick patients–a 1 lb baby (2 months premature), a 7-year-old with malaria and malnutrition and a 1 month old baby suffering from epilepsy. It was pretty heartbreaking to see. Also, I watched many patients wheeled OUTSIDE from one building to the OR. The nurses would just take off their shoes when stepping in the OR. I can unfortunately imagine many terrible infections after entering that room. At least the labor & delivery unit in the hospital is better than in the villages where they have witch doctors deliver the babies. If the woman hemorrhages, the witch doctor can’t do anything. Kind of unbelievable.
After touring the hospitals, we walked around town to buy the eggs for the malnutrition program. We had a classic Indonesian lunch. I really had a taste of the town life of the Sumbanese.
Finished the day off with another stand-up paddle board session in the ocean with a few people here at my hotel. Watching the sun set while on the ocean was gorgeous.
Thanks for reading,