A Gandou Experience
​No words or pictures can truly describe the look on someone’s face as they wait outside the clinic hoping to be picked to see the Dr. before it gets too dark to walk back home. They plea with their eyes or point and try to explain what is wrong so that the guy choosing the next to come in will pick them next. A mother carrying her baby or the old man or woman in pain, without speaking our language, you know what they need.

     No words can describe the raw emotions that I felt as we drove up the rocky path to get to the people of Gandou. Hours from any city and along the rocky mountainside, sat a manmade home with a family coming outside to see home who or what was driving up the road. It is not everyday that a machine comes out their way. Men, women and children are walking, while usually carrying something on their head, as their only means of transportation. They are excited to see us but deep in their eyes is despair. Just as the people of Gandou are exciting to us we were exciting to them.

     The people were always polite and friendly. As miserable as a life it seemed to me, they seemed content, not knowing any other life. The children liked to try to speak English and was always curious to touch our skin and hair. In looking at the pictures that we brought back, you would see that they took great pride in themselves. They wore their best outfit to come and see the Dr. and to attend mass on Sunday. The children also wore uniforms to school. As we worked in the clinic during the day, beautiful music rang from the schools as the children sang. One woman with a deep infection on her hand was treated by our Dr. and referred to the clinic in the nearest city, was so grateful that she brought 2 eggs to help repay for her services. She gave all that she had.

     There was a special sense of peace while in Gandou. The stars were beautiful and plentiful yet they were the same stars in our sky here at home. I am proud to share my story and proud for the work that I was able to do for the people. Giving of your self is the best reward. There are many ways in order to help the needy of Gandou or even the needy here close to home. It is not necessarily who you help but that you help. The smallest donation of time, talent or monetary gifts can go a long way. Give with your heart and you will be rewarded.

Sharon Struewing, Jan 2009