Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Ciah


Back in Bogor I went to see tubercular Asep and malnourished little Andi in order to hand out the usual money for food and medicines. Asep seemed to have lost weight again and Andi's swollen tummy suggested he still had worms.

I was walking back to my vehicle when I spotted Agosto, the pale, sad child who had had typhoid, and Ciah, his mother, who had had hepatitis. We were close to their miserable, damp shack which stood beneath some gloomy trees. I did not really want to meet them as I had not much money left in my pocket and I felt I had helped them both quite a bit already. Surely some of the rich local people could help. There were several large mansions within one hundred metres, including the home of a Regent, or some such official, and the home of a man working for the oil company Pertamina. I had once asked the Pertamina man for help to buy medicine but had been turned down. He had been busy watching one of his large vehicles being polished by a servant.

"Mister," said Ciah, sounding tired, "I need money."

"My mother's sick," said Agosto.

"I need to go back to the hospital" said Ciah.

"What's the problem?" I asked. She didn't look too bad. She was standing up and there was no sign of fever.

"I don't feel well."

"I haven't much money left on me at the moment," I explained, "but I'll give you enough to see a doctor." I gave her some rupiahs.

"That's not enough to go into hospital," said Ciah quietly.

"But it's enough to consult the doctor and get outpatient medicine. See what the doctor says."

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