Chris Daly

Coming to Carmelo was my first experience in Africa, and while I was at first nervous about
going to an unfamiliar country with a language I speak poorly, my time at Carmelo could not have been
more rewarding. To say that I learned a lot during my time in Chokwe does not give my experience
justice. This was an experience that opened my eyes to a whole new world of how medicine is practiced
and to the realities of health in a resource-limited community. I always knew about the AIDS crisis in
Africa, but to see the effects of HIV with my own eyes will affect me forever. Young people my own age
malnourished and dying of complications from AIDS is difficult to see, but it also makes me realize there
is so much more work to do to help. Apart from HIV, I was exposed to so many illnesses I never see in
the US: Tuberculosis, Malaria, Rheumatic Heart Disease, severe malnourishment, the list goes on. I had
no idea how terrible TB still affects communities here, and to see disseminated TB in children is
something I had only read about in books before I came here.


While I had the opportunity to learn about many unique illnesses, most importantly my time in
Mozambique taught me how to understand the practice of medicine in resource-limited settings. It was
often difficult to work at Carmelo, and I was often out of my comfort zone. I am a pediatrician, so I was
not used to seeing adult patients and I was certainly used to having more tools to care for children.
However, here you learn to work with what you have. In America, I am dependent on diagnostic tests,
labs, and specialists for diagnosing disease and making treatment decisions. Here I learned that all you
have is often your physical exam and your mind. This is an older, harsher, more pure form of medicine.
Sometimes I did not agree with treatments or practice, but when you have no other options, what other
choices do you have? Seeing patients die when I knew they would have lived in America is difficult to
see.


Even the attitude towards death is different. In the US, we act like none of us deserves to die and
we do everything possible to stop it. Here death is just a part of the everyday human experience. We
cannot save every patient, and sometimes we must accept when nothing else can be done. As hard as
that can be in my field of pediatrics, maybe I need to accept that more often. Furthermore, the Mobile
Clinic experience really showed me what community life in an impoverished area is. Visiting these
communities without electricity and running water was liking travelling back in time, and there were
very few treatment options for the patients there. It will be difficult to go back to America, where we
waste so much and have a surplus of food and comfort, and not feel guilty. I hope I at least can be more
appreciative of the privileges that I have.


Finally, Carmelo taught me that despite hardship and poverty, the people of Mozambique are
some of the kindest and most accepting (especially with my Portuguese) that I have met. I had a
wonderful time and want to thank everybody at Carmelo, the sisters and all the staff, for accepting me
here. I will cherish this experience forever, and I hope to come back one day to learn more!