Naturalists as well as volunteer workers and medical professionals will enjoy the warm and personal tale of one woman's experiences in the scorching climate and the heart-melting expressions of humanity at this tent hospital in Ethiopia. This book describes the function of a Doctors Without Borders program at the ground level, at the TB mission they established in eastern Ethiopia during 2001.
The culture of the Afar people is part of the story as well as the physical surroundings of the mission including the birds and animals of the desert setting. It is also a story about relationships and how like a family a vastly different group of people from all over the world can become when they all share a life of physical hardship but enormous reward. Setting up a hospital and lab in the desert, and battling daily on behalf of people ill with TB, malaria and other tropical diseases, the invaluable organization of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) succeeds against enormous odds. Their success proves what a collection of individuals can do with the skills at hand to make the world a better place - and enjoy the process. The team concept, so vital to the mission concept, comes alive in the author's depiction of the scene at Gahla. The culture of the migratory Afar people, with their fierce reputation and teeth filed to points, and the city lifestyle in Ethiopia's capital Addis are explored. As an avid birder, the author also includes descriptions of the exotic birds, animals and insects of this part of the Rift Valley with its searing heat and volcanic vents. Geologists suggest that one day the entire Afar Triangle may give way in a tectonic shift to become the new Afar Sea. Until then, it is home to a wide range of wonderfully resourceful people and colorful fauna that enliven this "impossibly" hot, dry land. The World Trade Center disaster took place one week after the author's return from a Muslim part of the world and the outpouring of compassionate correspondence she received from the people whom she had just left tells volumes about why we must not tar all Muslims with the brush of terrorism.
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