Yesterday Lara and I went up to Zone R to visit the little girl with the burns. I had researched some wilderness medicine techniques to clean out the wound, as the family might as well be living in the woods with all of the filth and dirt in the air and ground. We stopped by a pharmacy along the way, and I bought some antiseptic and bandages, and then we boarded the bus that runs up to Zone R. We were the only ones on the bus that morning, as most people were on their way down the mountain for work and school. Some days here are so overcast that the visibility barely extends to the next street. It has been like this for the past few days – cold and dark and damp. Lara spotted the girl’s house and yelled “baja!” or stop, and we walked down to the front door. The girl’s brother answered, barely peeking out of the front door. He looked terrified of us, two white girls in a place where no tourists ever come. Lara told him that we were here to help his sister, and he told us that his mom, Rosa, was at the comedore – or community kitchen, up the hill. Well, we set off to find that community kitchen, which was little more that a shack with women and young girls lined up to pay a small fee for the day’s meal. I’ve never seen anything like this, and Lara told me that it’s a very popular (and safer) way to cook in the poorer communities. We have a grad student coming from UNC later in the month – her sole purpose in staying with us is to research these comedores. Anyway, we found Rosa who greeted us with the largest hug, dropped her bag and pot and led us down the hill to her house, talking the whole way. I was astonished to learn that Rosa’s husband, and the little girl’s dad, is the director of the zone. He’s the director – the most prominent man in the neighborhood, yet he can barely afford a roof for his family’s head and has run out of money for his daughter’s antibiotics (which was a backwards blessing, in my opinion. I don’t think it’s a good idea to keep that young girl on oral antibiotics for weeks at a time). Anyway, we returned back to the house, and the family was so eager and grateful for our help. The girl is adorable, and my heart just ached for her. Lara read “The Giving Tree” in Spanish as I taught the mom about cleanliness (she didn’t even know to wash her hands before caring for the wound!) It’s amazing how much we are taught in the United States in comparison. We boiled water and I taught the mom a very simple way of cleaning out the wound using just iodine and boiled water. We applied a topical antibiotic and covered the wound – just simple ways of controlling the infection. I am praying that in our next visit the infection will be better controlled. Lara and I asked some questions about the mom’s history and her view on education, and her response was so interesting. She herself never went to school and is illiterate – she doesn’t even know how to count money and says that she knows she is cheated at the store. What a terrible way to live! Lara is going to bring up some math flashcards next time, so we’ll work with the mom and the daughter on the basics. Rosa started crying and told us that she doesn’t want her children to suffer as she has suffered. She also doesn't want to be living the way that they are living. She told her daughter right in front of us, “Look at these young girls. They worked hard at school and now are smart and can travel and help other people. And they are single. You need to learn from them.” The last part was so interesting because many of the women in this culture, which is extremely male-dominated to the point of oppression (at least in the poorer areas), get married instead of becoming educated – it is a matter of survival and not a matter of the Biblical reasons that we understand marriage, which also breaks my heart. Anyway, the entire visit was moving, for all parties. I was honestly not looking forward to caring for that wound, as it was one of the grossest wounds I have ever seen. The Lord, in his faithfulness, gave me such a love for that little girl during the visit that I didn’t mind in the least. I only wanted to help her and get her back in school. After a couple of hours, we left. We had brought the first book in the Chronicles of Narnia and a little bag of candy and pencils/crayons which we left with her. We’ll return sometime this week with another book and some more medicine. I really want to go up just about every day, so we’ll see what happens!