Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Six Months in Sudan by Dr. James Maskalyk

I am so grateful to people like Dr. Maskalyk for his sacrifice and compassion. He left his comfortable Canadian life to bring his medical expertise to the people of the remote, war-torn village of Abyei, Sudan, and wrote about his experience, first in a blog and then in this book, in such a way that we could be there with him.

". . . because I believe that which separates action from inaction is the same thing that separates my friends from Sudan. It is not indifference. It is distance. May it fall away." p4

". . . I wanted to see who I was when everything was taken away, when all the insulation between the world and me was removed" p7

“I lean back on my chair. Generators start to crackle madly in directions. It’s almost dark now. The girls throw some incense on the coals and the scent of frankincense swirls on the smoke. In the sky above Tim’s head, the minaret of the town mosque glows from within. A young boy in ripped brown shorts walks by barefoot, two goats tethered behind him.” p66

“I watched a woman take the most gentle care to offer her child water from a plastic cup, holding her hand under the rim so that not a drop was spilled. The child refused, and the mother offered it gently again. It was such a beautiful, intimate act of love.” (from the blog) p138

I was captivated by Dr. Maskalyk’s voice, observations and honesty; this was a difficult assignment and he makes no apologies for the physical and emotional struggles he encountered. He had to keep reminding himself of the greater task of bringing medical care to those who needed it the most with his very limited resources, which meant sometimes having to say no. No, he couldn’t use their one vehicle as an ambulance. No, he couldn’t use their one vehicle as a hearse. No, he couldn’t build them a better road.

“One can interpret these requests in two ways. The first, that these people expect others to do everything. The second, that they believe that we can do everything.” p211

I knew I liked Dr. Maskalyk from the very first page but it was in this line from his blog that nailed it:

“My morning run has been suspended recently so that I might concentrate more fully on smoking”

I laughed out loud; it was a relief to see just how human he was. How many times have I suspended my exercise routine so that I might concentrate more fully on chocolate consumption?

Yes, this subject is difficult and heavy, but Six Months in Sudan is a compelling and completely readable book.

Want to know more? Here are some links:

1 comment:

Beth said...

Did I already mention (on your other blog?) that I bought this book for Sam? To do this kind of thing is his dream.