I’m actually writing this on Saturday, as I may not have much time tomorrow or Monday. So I hope nobody minds that I’m a little in advance: if you do, you could not read it until tomorrow, if that would help!
All this week I’ve been, on odd occasions, wondering what I should blog about in this pause. I wondered whether to continue my rambling from last week, or to go off on a tangent. I had lots of ideas, but there is a poem that kept coming back to me, so I’ll share that with you. I was going to write something about what the poem meant to me, blah-de-blah. But then something happened last night that I really want to tell you about. I want to tell you about a doctor that I met.
You may have “met” this doctor at the same time as I did. He is a man, who, time after heart breaking time, has to make the worst decision a person could ever have to make: which child should be given the chance of life, and which will have to die. And every time he has to make this choice, he also dies a little inside.
I watched the Comic Relief programme last night, and while so many of the short films they showed were shocking, I think it was watching this man that affected me most. He no doubt entered medicine because he wanted to make a difference, to save people’s lives, but, because of the poverty of the hospitals where he works, he doesn’t have enough equipment to do what he so desperately wants to do.
The film showed him, in his terribly under resourced hospital, with 4 children, each with malaria, each held tightly in the arms of their weeping mother, each needing life-giving oxygen…and only three portals to the oxygen machine. He had to choose which child would not be treated. He had to choose which three would live, and which would, in all probability, die. And as he explained this to camera, his voice broke and he turned away, overwhelmed by the enormity of what he had to do…and what he has to do every day.
Apparently, there are a good percentage of people who watch the Comic Relief programme, and don’t donate. Let’s be honest, I’ve been in that percentage, but today, after watching that young man weep as he contemplated the choice he had to make, I can’t not donate. I have to. If you don’t know what I’m talking about here’s a link to the Red Nose Day site. If you’ve not donated yet, please think of that young doctor having to choose which child has to die, and get out your credit card.
£120 could enable four volunteers, living in remote villages in Uganda, to get the training they need to give life-saving medical treatment to children with malaria.
£8 could pay for ten Ugandan children to be tested for malaria so they can get a quick diagnosis and receive life-saving treatment. Yes – 10 children…the tests cost 80p each. I spend 80p on a chocolate bar and think nothing of it. I lose 80p down the back of the sofa. And it could save a life!
And now, here’s that poem. I first read it at secondary school, as we studied the Metaphysical Poets. I can’t tell you much about them now, but certain poems, this one by George Herbert, and others by John Donne, have really spoken to me through the years. When I re-read this as I post it, I don’t think I need to write about what it means to me. Because it’s what it means to you that is important. I have posted this on this blog before, but I think it bears repeating.
LOVE (III) – by George Herbert
Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey’d Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack’d anything.
“A guest,” I answer’d, “worthy to be here”;
Love said, “You shall be he.”
“I, the unkind, the ungrateful? ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee.”
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
“Who made the eyes but I?”
“Truth, Lord, but I have marr’d them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.”
“And know you not,” says Love, “who bore the blame?”
“My dear, then I will serve.”
“You must sit down,” says Love, “and taste my meat.”
So I did sit and eat.