The hospital was built in the 1970s with a capacity of 289 people. There must have been five times that many patients while I was there. Mothers and their newborns lined up on wooden benches outside overcrowded rooms, shifting uncomfortably, trying to rest. The delivery room, too, made an impression: the rusty pink chair darkened by stains was anything but welcoming. But it was there that the infants took their first breaths.
An ICRC medical team made up of two nurses, an anaesthetist, and a surgeon had arrived a week before me to treat wounded refugees arriving from Darfur, Sudan. They brought expertise and dedication to life-saving work, but the conditions were difficult. Frequent power cuts forced them to operate by the light of headlamps, as they would in makeshift hospitals in the bush. There was little clean water and medicine, and the lack of personnel meant they worked long hours.
The rooms where their patients convalesced after surgery had rows of identical metal-framed beds with thin black plastic mattresses. The yellowish walls with retro tiling gave the absurd impression that the room and the entire hospital were cold. The stifling air stirred by the ceiling fan reminded me otherwise. Thankfully, between the beds, relatives had set down colourful mats to sleep on and keep watch, adding a welcoming and homey touch.
Source : Icrc