“Dr Andrew, we have a problem…..” I wait to hear more. The line is not great and I’m sat with the team on our matatu (minibus) driving towards today’s examination center.
“We have been stopped by the police and they are going to take us to the station.”
Each day, three guys go ahead of us in the equipment van, they have to take the pot-holed tarmacked roads slowly and the non-tarmacked ones even slower. In the van is one of the our two team drivers, the maintenance engineer and one of the advance team who knows where we are going. The van is precisely packed with all our equipment! No equipment, no project. My heart starts to pound as the news sinks in. It turns out there was no valid reason for pulling them over, it is in fact, pretty standard that people get pulled over and generally are made to pay a bribe before moving on. This police officer is asking for a few thousand shillings or threatening to impound the van and all that is in it.
20 minutes later we catch them up and two of our team go and negotiate. I’m advised to stay in the van, if the police see me, a muzungo (foreigner) they will quadruple the fine. After what seems like hours, two of the team return smiling, the other guys have been released, seconds later, the brown van with tinted windows and the equipment drives off ahead to get set up. My heart settles and I stop imagining how on earth I might get the van out of the police station. I was thinking of something along the lines of the A-Team…
We arrived not long after at our examination center. Today, a lady had kindly let us use her home, the only building in the area with electricity. Her front room was soon converted in to a high-tech eye clinic and a queue of study patients awaited us. Along with goats and other animals hanging around.
Patients are collected whilst we set up
Vision being tested
Eight hours later we were done and on our way home, the sun disappeared and air cool as we ventured back to base having managed to see 28 study patients, around 30 others and found 7 people in need of surgery and many more needing more basic treatment.
‘Tractor in the mud’ ‘Tractor digging” Lucas remarks. I get a text from Andrew, the equipment van has been stopped by the Police, this is not the first time we have been stopped. Lucas is less concerned, “My plant carrots”. Today is project roof garden, I think we have all been missing a garden so we decided to make a little one on the roof. A friend gave us some soil to fill up some old 10 litre drinking bottles and Lucas and I set to work. It’s only small but Lucas and I had a great time under the table with the pots of soil (They are under the table so they have a chance against the heavy rains) Lucas is pushing the two green tractors and ploughing the mud like ‘Tractor Ted’ whilst I hang out the washing we then began our task in planting carrots, chilies and tomatoes… I hope they grow!
Recipe – Focaccia
500g Strong white bread flour
5g dried yeast
1tbsp olive oil and extra for drizzling
Chopped fresh rosemary
Seat salt granules
- Mix the flour, yeast, salt and water in a bowel into a sticky dough then add in the olive oil. Either knead with your hands in the bowl or use a dough hook on a mixer on a low setting for 10 minutes.
- Roll into a round and place in an oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise until doubled in size for about 1 hour.
- Brush a 26cm x 36cm tin with olive oil and flatten the dough into the tin, leave to prove for 30mins. Pre-heat the oven to 230°C.
- When the dough looks like its airy and risen use your fingers to poke holes throughout the dough, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle on the rosemary and sea salt.
- Place in the oven for 10mins then turn down to 200°C and cook for a further 10minutes until golden brown and crispy.
- Let cool for 10mins before serving or prepare the night before for the eye project team!
The explorer enjoys the lush green on a weekend walk
He seems to have mastered the self-sitting position