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When they arrived at the town of Togo, they found he doctor had gone. Togo is one Of the several parishes situated in the mountains of the island of Negroes with the population of some 20,000 people. The pastor there now, FRR. Eugenic, tell me that they have no doctor, though they still have a dilapidated clinic. When I was there, about a year ago, a doctor sometimes visited us. Gregory wanted to borrow our vehicle to take his wife to the hospital in the lowlands – a two – hour ride over a rocky road. But I explained to him that FRR.

Hillarie had taken the jeep, but would go with him to the clinic anyhow to see what could be done. We found Liana lying t the clinic crying out in pain. Obviously, she desperately needed help, so we hurried out to search for the young doctor assigned to Togo for six month’s rural training. But he was away in an outlying and so we waited for what seemed like ages before he came back. He immediately wrote out prescription for Gregory, who ran barefoot along the road to a little shop stock with pitifully small supplies of medicine. The doctor wrote another prescription.

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Gregory sped away again, only to return once more breathless and empty-handed. ‘Mime need dextrose,” said the doctor, “but there is none here in town. All of us fanned out through, the neighborhood asking people if they had any. Finally, a woman produced a half-filled bottle left over from what her husband used before he died. I brought it to the doctor. He looked up exasperated and said, “The clinic has no dextrose needle. We’ll have to take her down Kaufmann. ” “Doc, you know she’ll die on the way,” I said. “Isn’t there anything you can do? He then tried to give the dextrose with a large needle, nut the vein in her arms and legs had collapsed. He tried the veins on the neck. That was no good either. We all stood there helpless as Liana screamed in pain. Gregory was mute with confusion; their little child was wandering around the bed. Finally, the doctor gave her some Coca-cola – the only “Medicine” available. Once more the doctor insisted Liana would have to journey down to Kaufmann. Since the priest wouldn’t be back, there was nothing else to do but Start the haggling for the rented jeep.

It would be expensive and Gregory had nothing, but we were in no position to haggle with a life at sake. Gregory laid Liana on the same hammock that had used to carry her down the mountain, and strung it up inside the jeep. All the time she cried out in pain. We had no sedatives, to calm her with. The doctor sat beside Gregory. Before they left whispered to Liana to be brave, there would be help. “Hang on,” said. The jeep moved slowly, bouncing along the terrible road, until it slowly disappeared from sight.

I whispered a hopeless prayer as if God who forgives would also, at a stroke, undo the accumulated effects of our unjust system. When FRR. Hillarie got back to the convent the following afternoon, I poured out the story to him. As we were talking, Gregory appeared at the door. He looked as if he had walked the whole way back which was over 30 kilometers. His face told the story – Liana had died halfway down the journey. She had begged to stop the jeep: the pain being too much. They stopped, and as they did, she died and so also taking the life of the child inside.

And now followed a strange development. The doctor and driver insisted that maybe she was still alive! They would not heed Gregarious please to return in Togo. So the jeep continued on and deposited Gregory and his dead wife at a doctors house clinic in a large barrio! The doctor was not there, and the housewife naturally got mad at Gregory for bringing a dead patient. But the jeep driver would not carry Gregory and Liana any further. “Against the law,” He said, and, “Of course, it would be bad luck too. The young doctor must have had very little understanding of just how destitute Gregory was – how desperately poor of our people are – because what he did next still amazes me. He went on to Kaufmann with the jeep driver and asked an expensive western-style funeral home to take care of the corpse. For Gregory, who had to pay for the expenses anything was better than to leave his wife in an unfriendly house. Now Gregory stood there numb and exhausted. What else could he do? The funeral home would not return the body till paid the bills from embalming and not bringing the body back to Togo.

It was 8,000 pesos. This was more than any amount Gregory had ever held in his whole life. Just think that 250 pesos worth of medicine would have saved the life of both Liana and her baby! It was the end as far as was concerned. But not for Gregory. He would borrow the money from us and sell his land to pay us! I suggested we send down our vehicle for the body, but there was a question about the being illegal. And then, would Perfecto our faithful driver, overcome the same u pretentious fear of carrying a dead body in his vehicle? Apart from that,” said FRR. Hillarie, “Our beat-up vehicle might never make it down and up again. ” Gregory watched us argue. He was beyond feeling. Finally we decided to consult Perfecto. When FRR. Hillarie left, Gregory pleaded, “Father, don’t leave Liana in Kaufmann” – and he wept. Perfecto was brief and to the point – “The vehicle will make it down, and well get it welded there. Then I’ll drive it back -? I’m not afraid to carry a dead body. ” Then he planned on how to deal with the funeral home – there would be some brutal bargaining to do.

I have not told this story well; the details have been smothered over by so many similar incidents. Did Gregory carry Liana for eight hours, not four? Did we get the body back for 1500 pesos or what? The cases blur in similarity and your mind stops making distinctions. Sometimes I’m tempted to think that if we had enough money to supply the poor with medicines, or not to have argue over hiring of a jeep, not have to worry about the wreck that our vehicle is, the problems would end. That might help relieve our worry and tension, but it would solve the problems, for they are recurrent and deep-rooted.


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