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Of little boys, bees and the state of our nation
August 28, 2015, 11:39 am

 

Dear Family and Friends,

Five days before 91 year old President Mugabe gave his State of the Nation Address to Parliament this week, a nightmare was underway in a small rural village in Zimbabwe. It wasn’t the sort of event that makes headlines or gets referred to in a State of the Nation address but maybe it should be because this is the real state of affairs in our country in 2015.

 

The drama began when two young school boys threw a stone into a swarm of bees hanging from a tree branch. This is apparently a common ‘little boy’ thing to do: throw the stone into the hanging, quivering mass of bees and then run like crazy. What the school boys didn’t know was that two younger children, aged 5 and 7 were coming down the same path and walked straight into the swarm of bees as it fell off the branch. In a second thousands of bees were all over the little girl and boy: stinging them on their heads, faces, necks, arms, legs and even on their little bare feet.

 

The screams of the two children alerted a man going to round up his cows and bring them back to the kraal for the night. The cattle ran past him, eyes rolling wildly, tails straight out as if the devil were on their hooves. The screams led the man to the children. The grass was long and the bush scratchy and both children were lying on the ground, covered in bees. The man reached the screaming girl first, he scooped her up into his arms and ran, out of range of the angry bees. One child safe he turned and went back. Two other adults had come by then, a young man and an old woman but both had been unable to rescue the little boy as the bees mobbed them and they couldn’t get close to the child.

 

The little boy was on the ground, his screams had stopped and he was very still when the rescuer went back the second time. The man’s hat fell off as he bent to lift up the little boy and hundreds of bees attacked him on his head, face and arms. He was determined and didn’t give up, carrying the unconscious child in his arms, not sure if the boy was even still alive, to the safety of a nearby homestead. All five victims, three adults and two children, needed urgent medical attention: eyes were swollen closed, lips, ears, cheeks, necks, arms were covered in hundreds of stings: nowhere had been spared and still the little boy hadn’t regained consciousness. 

 

Someone in the village had a car and they all went to the nearest government clinic . A nurse  came out and said she had nothing to treat the five victims: no pain killers, no anti inflammatories, no anti histamine, not even any simple pain killers. She offered to write a note to take to the hospital. “We don’t want your letter we need help” the man said and they left for the nearest hospital, 15 km away, a big provincial facility serving many towns and villages around the district. 

 

By then it was dark, 6.30 pm, and there was a power cut; there hadn’t been electricity for over 13 hours; it’s like this at least three times a week in many towns in Zimbabwe. By the light of a single candle the nurses looked at the five patients. All were grotesquely swollen; the little boy was still not conscious, some were dizzy and had blurred, double vision. The nurses said they had no medication at all to treat the casualties; a prescription was written, 10 vials of hydrocortisone were needed. The patients must go and source the injections themselves in town the nurses said, leaving them sitting in the dark.  

 

Two of the five went out again into the darkness; they had no money, were in shock and pain and needed US$ 30 to buy the medication, not to mention fuel for the car that was already running on empty. In less than an hour, someone had helped, the medication was bought and then they waited at the hospital until the electricity came back at 10.30pm when at last the injections were given. Four day later the little boy’s Gogo used a crochet hook to pull a dead bee out her grandson’s ear; until then it had been too swollen to see into. The child’s face and head was still swollen he was still having nightmares about bees , but he was alive. 

 

Five days later in his State of the Nation address, President Mugabe said Zimbabwe’s health sector was growing thanks to help from the Chinese: new dental and renal units were planned and  53 new rural health centres were being built. I couldn’t bear to listen to more as I wondered if they too would be useless, empty buildings where you can’t even get an anti histamine or paracetemol? Where you have to go out and buy your own injections, even in life threatening emergencies; where there aren’t even solar lights for nurses and doctors to see with?

 

This is the state of our nation this 2015. Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy. 



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