Hi, I’m Peter Hill.
I had been at Inter Care for a couple of years, helping in the warehouse with sorting, checking and order picking of the numerous medicines for dispatch to our African customers.
I always had questions such as “What are these for?”, “Where are these going?”. So, when the opportunity presented itself to go and see for myself, I jumped at the chance.
What an eye-opening experience that turned out to be. From being in a warehouse full of goods, to seeing pharmacies with empty shelves, a box here, a box there; minimum equipment of uncertain age. Yet, the doctors and nurses were so grateful for what little they had. They were proud of what they were doing to serve their people.
A gift of a stethoscope was to be cherished, whilst a new microscope brought the response “We’ll have to hide this before the visiting doctors confiscate it”.
Picture above: Healthcare staff at Tarakea Dispensary receiving a microscope donated by Inter Care
Their welcome to us and their hospitality was overwhelming at times. You knew that they had very little to live on, yet it was so hard and rude to refuse their offers of food without giving offence. Speaking of which, you had to like bananas. I had bananas raw, fried, sautéed, boiled, fricasseed, mashed and lastly banana soup.
It wasn’t just the lack of medicines. We all took extra baggage full of clothes, writing books, pens and pencils, toys etc. These were more than welcome especially for the children. It was the children that left me with my most moving memory.
We visited St Francis Orphanage caring for over 250 young children, of which a fair percentage suffer from Albinism with added complications of impaired vision and skin cancers. In certain African societies Albinos are shunned, unwanted, rejected by parents. They are lucky even to have survived birth.
Sensing someone by my side I reached out and held a small hand, which gripped mine quite hard. On looking down I saw a little girl. She was Albino, but the most striking thing was the wide-eyed look of awe and open amazement that someone like me would willingly hold her hand and not let go.
For the rest of the day, we held hands and the joy I saw in her face spoke volumes. I think we both had tears in our eyes on parting.
You will perhaps realise by now why I help at Inter Care. Not just for that one young girl but for all the others in need.