Band-Aid for a Broken Leg: Being a Doctor with No Borders and Other Ways to Stay Single

Band-Aid for a Broken Leg: Being a Doctor with No Borders and Other Ways to Stay Single

Band-Aid for a Broken Leg: Being a Doctor with No Borders and Other Ways to Stay Single

Band-Aid for a Broken Leg: Being a Doctor with No Borders and Other Ways to Stay Single

Synopsis

A powerful, surprisingly funny, and ultimately uplifting account of life on the medical frontline, and a moving testimony of the work done by Medecins Sans Frontieres Damien Brown, a young doctor, thinks he's ready when he arrives for his first posting with Medecins Sans Frontieres in Africa. But the town he's sent to is an isolated outpost of mud huts, surrounded by landmines; the hospital, for which he's to be the only doctor, is filled with malnourished children and conditions he's never seen; and the health workers- Angolan war veterans twice his age who speak no English- walk out on him following an altercation on his first shift. In the months that follow, Damien confronts these challenges all the while dealing with the social absurdities of living with only three other volunteers for company. The medical calamities pile up- including a leopard attack, a landmine explosion, and having to perform surgery using tools cleaned on the fire- but it's through Damien's evolving friendships with the local people that his passion for the work grows. This heartbreaking and honest account of life on the medical frontline in Angola, Mozambique, and South Sudan is a moving testimony of the work done by medical humanitarian groups and the extraordinary and sometimes eccentric people who work for them.

Excerpt

I arrived yesterday, dropped off by a little plane that promptly turned and rattled down the dirt runway, taking with it any semblance of a link to the outside world as it left me in this town. If you’d call this a town, that is. Seems more like a village to me. A dusty, isolated, mudhut-filled outpost of a village, hidden in this far corner of Angola—a war-ravaged country in south-west Africa. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen, and is my home for the next six months.

But right now I’m trying not to think about it. Pretending there are no landmines. No crowded hospital. No ward with malnourished children; poster-kids from a Bob Geldof appeal who sit listlessly, wide-eyed, rubber feeding tubes taped to their cheeks, and for whose medical care I’m about to be responsible. Or that I’m to be the only doctor, for that matter, left working in the middle of a region once dubbed ‘O Fim do Mundo’—The Edge of the World—by the Portuguese colonists. And I’m hoping desperately that the immediate task at hand—choosing a gift for tonight’s local wedding, to which the six of us Médecins Sans Frontières volunteers have been invited— will provide at least some respite, some fleeting distraction, from the incomprehensible, pitiful, frightening universe that begins just beyond these walls.

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