Shifting up

I ended my not so good 24 hour journey in the hotel’s Lebanese restaurant with a cold beer, an excellent kofta platter and a big plate of fries. The restaurant made moves to close so I ate and drank fast, then retired to my crappy room, too tired to care. At least I had no suitcase to unpack, but even if I had, it was not a place I wanted to stay for more than one night.

All during the evening I was struggling to keep myself from dropping down into victim mode – pitying myself for my bad luck. I told myself that my problems were what some would call ‘white (or rich) folks’ problems,’ and rather trivial in comparison to real serious problems. Being in Liberia this kind of perspective is easy to trigger – all around me are Liberians who survived Ebola; many, I assumed would have lost at least one relative if not more. I did ask about what it was like – unimaginable for us. One of our midwife participants told me about a delivery in the early days of the outbreak. She wore protective gear because she had a hunch, even though Ebola was hardly on the radar. A young woman delivered her baby at 7 months and then hemorrhaged, dying shortly after; the baby did too. Ebola was the cause of the early labor and the hemorrhage. For us delivery is a joyful event, and comparably safe. How often do we hear of women giving birth in the US dying in the labor room?

My travel troubles suddenly looked very unimportant against the backdrop of such heartbreaking tragedies and Liberia’s most recent drama. And wouldn’t you know it, with that shift in thinking, everything else started to shift as well.


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December 2016
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