When I walk down the long corridor of the Galmi Maternity ward in the morning, it’s normal to stop to greet staff members and patients’ relatives along the way. Sannu likita, ina kwana? Yauwa, lahiya lau. An tashi lahiya? I have to pay attention carefully to make sure my morning brain responds in the right way. Each morning I wonder which empty beds I will see when I reach the end of the corridor. On the right is the special care nursery, and on the…Continue Reading “Empty beds”

  The common earwig. Harmless quirky insect, or fearsome foe? The earwig is thought to have received its humourous name from an old wives’ tale about the small insect burrowing deep into human brains through the ear canal. Supposedly their purpose was to seek out a quiet spot to lay their eggs. Although earwigs are not generally known to hide out in the ears of humans, this has certainly happened at least once. Earwigs do not seem fussy about what kind of small quiet space they squeeze…Continue Reading “Forficula Auricularia”

I could write for days about the hard stories I’ve encountered at Galmi Hospital. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the reality of life and death here. Yet, in the midst of suffering there is hope. This is a story of hope and encouragement. Last year in Galmi, a tiny wriggling baby was born, way too early. This little person weighed just a tick over a kilogram, and came into the world about three months before the due date. Her mother had already lost…Continue Reading “Hope and Encouragement”

It’s two in the morning when the phone rings again. I stand at our front door for a while looking at the cascading rain pouring over the edge of the tin roof and wonder how I will make it to the hospital. It’s the rainy season here in Niger. The rain has been patchy this year and people are worrying about their crops. But tonight the rain could rival any good monsoon downpour in the Northern Territory. It doesn’t show any signs of easing, so…Continue Reading “Making tracks in the night”

The Lintons are wandering again! Once again we’ve decided to head off from the NT and join the team at Galmi Hospital in rural Niger. This time we’ll be away for around 3 months. We have just finished our first week here in Galmi, and our body clocks have finally creaked and groaned into an appropriate time zone. It has been a good week of reconnecting with people and attempting again to communicate in Hausa. Malaria season is just starting to build up, and from…Continue Reading “Back to Galmi”

The goat was protesting as we loaded her into the back of the rapidly filling 4WD. Three adults, six kids, one goat with her baby, all our luggage, and sixty litres of water. We were in Danja, having met up with our friends the Short family for a weekend trip. They live in the bush with Fulani people, in a tiny village that depends on a well for water and millet for food. We had got up early to catch the bus from Galmi out…Continue Reading “Yoole”

The maternity nursing station was empty that morning. I found someone and asked where everyone was. “A baby… premature”. In the delivery room the activity was centered around a tiny bundle. Oxygen connected, a cannula in a hair-like vessel, counting drops of glucose water infusion. The baby was four hours old and for such a miniscule person he was doing well. He was pink and wriggling, and his chest rose and fell without significant effort. Perhaps there was hope?

Continue Reading "Too little, too late"

My hands are shaking as I try desperately to close the gap that has unexpectedly opened up. The operation has not gone well and the patient is in bad shape. Sweat drips down my forehead as I shoot a concerned glance at my assistant. She is shaking her head in dismay. “Have you got any ideas?” I ask. She suggests using a knife. I’ve already tried that option and it hasn’t worked well. She passes me the pliers as I watch yet another unidentified piece fall out. “Watch where that goes, we might need it later!”

Continue Reading "Emergency Surgery"

It’s the hottest part of the day in Galmi, and the hospital is winding down for a few hours break.The outpatients waiting room is gradually emptying, calmer now after the packed morning. Women in bright headscarves and men in long robes are milling around, waiting for admission or treatment. The air is heavy with the smell of open wounds and brewing infections. It is a relief to feel the fresh air outside and squint into the mid day sun. I walk back towards the compound…Continue Reading “Compound life”