Two weeks ago we were at the hospital getting health certificates—documents required for our residence permit. One of the requirements for the health certificate is sitting in on an HIV/AIDS counseling session and taking a “confidential” HIV/AIDS blood test. Another part of the process included getting a card indicating our blood types. So that day we dragged Silas and Luke around the hospital: to the exam room, to the counseling office, and to the lab for tests. After we finished, the doctor told me to come back the next morning to get the results—and the health certificates.
As instructed, I returned for the papers. On my way out a nurse stopped me and told me someone was looking for me. “Who?” I asked. She led me toward the radiology room and pointed me to the x-ray tech, a guy I didn’t know. He introduced himself and began by saying, “Eske ou ka ede-m?” On any given day, I find myself in at least three or four conversations beginning with these same five words (translated: Can you help me?), typically followed by a request for anywhere from $5 to $50—no joke. This happens so much, it becomes desensitizing, and it’s difficult not to tune-out and politely say, “no” and, “I’m sorry”. Since we were at the hospital, I presumed he needed help paying a hospital bill. But his request was different. (more…)