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Hands across borders, by Alana Quinn

By Seb Contreras, Jun 7 2015 10:00AM

My commute to the clinic consisted of a full 10-minute walk along one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Fine white sand, granules so fine, so powder soft, with azure blue water nibbling at its edges. And did I mention it was hot? So hot that I started to believe the heat actually had a smell! The water temperature alone was 28-32 degrees, with air temperature averaging 34 degrees.

All this beauty! … I walked up a lane from the beach, overhanging with hibiscus, bougainvillea and mangos! Then, upon turning left onto a sandy path I see the queue, before I actually see the clinic.

People of all ages, shapes and sizes, standing and squatting in various positions of acute pain and temporary relief. However, the striking thing was the laughter and general hubbub of chatter. Despite the pain and hardship of their situation, people were smiling at me as I walked past and yelling out “Jambo, Habari” – “hello, how are you?”. Some had walked hours to get to the clinic; others had just popped around the corner. Some were spending the night with relatives, or perhaps a few, in order to facilitate further treatment. “We will keep working until the queue disappears … for today at least”.

Nothing in my undergraduate or postgraduate training prepared me for the severity or complexity of the cases that I came across that first day, or during the time I was based in Tanzania. This is a country where health service resources are so bitterly stretched; you actually cannot comprehend it, until you physically see it. Most are unable to gain the appropriate treatment they require. This is a country where there are no MRI’s, people are dying from Diabetes, many children are suffering complications of fevers that leave them disabled for the rest of their lives and the average life expectancy is 51 (as of last census 2002).

The Hands Across Boarders clinic has been operating for 13 years and seen well over 20,000 patients, who have all been treated solely by volunteers. Volunteers cover their own costs to and from Tanzania and during their stay. Treatment for patients is free of charge, however there is a donation box for those that feel they are able to make a contribution to the charity and to the care of future patients.

Today I am extending that invitation back across the water to you! Perhaps before you head out to buy that coffee (or mango!) you may consider giving that £/$ as a donation to this wonderful charity that is making such a significant and real impact to the lives of people who are greatly in need.

Please click on the link http://www.handsacrossborderssociety.org scroll down to bottom of the page and press donate.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Please feel free to contact me if you would like further information.

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