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Ramadan

Written by Antje on July 28th 2013 15:53

It’s been a week since I came back from my holiday in Thailand. It was lovely to get completely away and relax on the beach. It was pretty hot, but much less humid than here and so very pleasant to be outside. And for the first time since I had arrived in Bangladesh I wore western clothes again, which I enjoyed very much.   

The moment I returned I hit the ground running. I had planned a free day after arriving in order to unpack and prepare for work, but things turned out otherwise. It turned out that a few days earlier, a 9-year-old girl, Arjina, had been admitted with bowel obstruction. The paediatrician had tried to persuade the parents to let her be transferred to Rangpur, 2 hours away, so she could have surgery, but they couldn’t be won over. I operated on her the morning after I arrived back. She had an obstruction due to adhesions to a part of intestine which looked pretty purple. Happily she recovered very well after the procedure and was able to be discharged 4 days later. I’m glad that I’d come back a day earlier than had been expected. 

It’s hospital policy in acute cases to treat first and then talk about money later. Poor people are assisted when it comes to paying the bill, but then it takes time to come to an agreement. This can take several days, so Arjina is still on the ward, 3 days after discharge. This gives me the opportunity to see for myself that she’s doing alright. 

Ramadan_juli_2013_100_1608.jpeg

Arjina with her mother

It’s also been Ramadan for at least a week now. This means that Muslims the world over neither eat nor drink from sunrise to sunset, for the whole month.  In Bangladesh 85% of the population are fasting. This includes both patients and staff in the hospital. The days are long and hot, and that that makes it difficult to fast. In addition the nights are short because people eat after the sun has gone down and also spend part of the night in prayer. During this time many people are searching for an encounter with God.

Every evening the fast is broken with extra tasty food. There are special treats prepared this month. I had to laugh when I read in the paper that the export of 5 essential products is frozen for the whole month in order to ensure that the prices in the country do not rise too much. What do you think these essential products are? Green peppers, aubergines, cucumbers, garlic and coriander!