Walking A Mile In Her Shoes

When I first arrived in Bario and met Lendra, the granddaughter of Tepuq Sina Doh Ayu, I was told that she had been really sick the previous week. She was on her way to recovery, although Tepuq, with worry written all over her face, would tell me that Lendra still did get fevers now and then.
We were glad that by the middle of my first week in Bario, Lendra was finally strong enough to go to school. Unfortunately, our relief was short lived. Lendra developed a fever one morning and complained of pain in her throat. That morning, we started the long walk from Arur Dalan towards the only clinic in Bario.

It saddened me that this little girl would have to walk under the heat of the sun for nearly an hour for healthcare. I had gotten accustomed to our walks back from school punctuated with jokes and songs but this walk felt uncomfortable. None of us spoke except to ask Lendra if she was okay or needed to be carried. She turned us both down and I remember praying that someone would be able to offer us a lift. Sure enough, help came in the form of a four wheel drive.

Upon reaching the clinic, Lendra was found to have a serious throat infection. Her previous round of antibiotics hadn’t worked and the doctor wasn’t sure of the next step. He attempted to find out if the previous course of medication had been completed but language became a barrier, with neither my Tepuq nor the doctor being able to understand each other. I  attempted to translate the best that I could and after 10 minutes or so, the doctor had a better picture and medicines were prescribed.

As the doctor  made further inquiries about Lendra’s health, I couldn’t help but notice a young girl in the next counter brought to the clinic by her father. He appeared exhausted as he explained to the doctor that his daughter was not well. After the check up, the father was told that she needed to be given more food and milk because she was underweight and therefore needed more nutrients. I overheard the father promise to work harder before they left the room together.

That day, I couldn’t help but realize how very fortunate I have been all my life. We’re all told not to waste our food and to be appreciative of the little things we have. But that morning drove the point home. I guess what I’m trying to say is that we, myself included, complain about the most trivial of things without realizing that we have so many things to be grateful for if we take the time to look around.


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