"Do Unto Others" - Reflections of a Volunteer Pediatrician

By Volunteer, Dr. Margreete Johnston

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One morning, we walked into a patient room to find a Maasai mother in tears. Today was day three of a difficult recovery for her two year old, whom had been admitted with a severe burn.  Not fully understanding the seriousness of the toddler’s condition and vulnerability to infection, the mother wanted desperately to go home to her boma. Later that same day, there was another youngster admitted with a similar accidental burn. While this child was from a more educated and affluent family, their shared situation led both parents to reach out to one another instinctively. The Maasai mother consoled the new family, speaking from her experience. In turn, the young parents of the second child encouraged her not to leave until her child was ready.

Similarly, in the labor ward, a mother from Karatu delivered a tiny baby at about 8 months gestation. We were not surprised that this premature newborn needed our support for a few days to be well enough to nurse. However, the mother was disheartened. In an adjacent room, another mother from the Maasai community who had recently lost a baby due to an unexplained fetal death encouraged the new mother. In fact, when it was time for her discharge, even after having lost her own baby, she stopped by their room to wish them well. I am tearing up just remembering this.

An American colleague and I witnessed these scenes and although we did not understand the conversations in Swahili, we did understand the universal nature of what was unfolding before us – parents deeply empathizing with one another and feeling love and devotion for a vulnerable child.  I have expanded my definition of "do unto others" having seen the unconditional love at work at FAME Medical. There are many more stories that I will always remember from my time there. I am thankful for the opportunity to share in FAME’s vision in a small way.

 
Kathrine Kuhlmann