Sunday, October 22, 2006

glimpses of africa

How can I sum up my short trip to Africa? I can only add to my previous posts with some glimpses of Africa that touched my heart, inspired me and will make me hope to return. I visited 3 countries over 6 weeks - South Africa, Uganda and Rwanda. I met so many people committed to palliative care and doing much to improve the access for those in need. As ever there are many difficult memories too. There are many who are hungry and trapped by poverty. There is a shocking lack of justice in how the world's share of resources are shared. There is the huge burden of illness and in particuler HIV/AIDS. Visting the genocide museum in Kigali is so essential in understanding something of the horror yet is an emotionally draining experience. What do you think of when you think of Africa? Let me give you a glimpse through my eyes.

Africa is a land rich in its natural beauty. A beauty which is at once accessible and yet wild. Seeing these giraffe up close was amazing - how did God dream up that neck? A rhino waking from it's slumber is an awesome beast; spotting the zebra so carefuly cammoflaged a delight. Beautiful sunsets, thundering rivers, peaceful lakes. I am glad to have survived my Nile kayaking adventure - and thanks to my guide through the grade 5 rapids. Amazing to think of those great explorers spending their lives finding the source of the Nile and here I am paddling down in a small piece of plastic.

Africa's richest beauty is in it's people. Warmth and smiles and help for a 'poor Mzungu' like me. Amazing colours and hair fashions. Bright, curious children; enthusiatic church services (they even asked me to preach!!); great food - especially when you can add some firey piri-piri; talented craftsmen producing work both ancient and innovative; history going back to the cradle of hunmanity yet modern and devloping. So many impressions! Let us hope that Cairderas is able to work with friends and colleagues to support palliative care developments in this amazing continent.


Anonymous said...

felt sorry that you didnt have any comments so thought id say hi
was ace to see you
looks like you've had a good trip
enjoy india
see you in 6 months or something! keep in touch
soph xxx

Katie STEEN said...

Dear Dr Leng,

I have recently been doing my medical elective in the PGI Chandigarh. Here I was fortunate enough to meet a friend of yours, Dr Tanma(from Assam) who was with you in Kerela on a WHO palliative care training programme.

I am part of the group Edinburgh MedSin (medical students international network), who are affiliated with Alma Mata (a group set up by International Health Graduates for both students and professionals with an interest in International Health.
On 2nd to 3rd of December Edinburgh University is hosting the annual Alma Mata Conference.

This year's conference topic is Health Worker Migration. The conference will include workshops, training sessions and advice.

The Saturday will focus on the brain drain, whereas the Sunday will focus on out migration to developing countries.

With your wealth of experience, we are wondering whether you would consider speaking at the event or running a workshop. Or, if you yourself are not able to do it, do you know anyone else suitable?

If you have any questions, please email me, or phone me on 07816267630. Also see the website:

Thank you very much and I look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes,

Katie Steen