Life and Death in Kolofata
199 pages

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When Dr. Ellen Einterz first arrives in the town of Kolofata in Cameroon, the situation is dire: patients are exploited by healthcare workers, unsterilized needles are reused, and only the wealthy can afford care. In Life and Death in Kolofata: An American Doctor in Africa, Einterz tells her remarkable story of delivering healthcare for 24 years in one of the poorest countries in the world, revealing both touching stories of those she is able to help and the terrible suffering of people born in extreme poverty. In one case, a 6-year-old burn victim suffers after an oil tanker tips and catches fire; in another story, Dr. Einterz delivers a child in the front yard of her home. In addition to struggling to cure diseases and injuries and combat malnutrition, Einterz faced another kind of danger: the terrorist organization Boko Haram had successively kidnapped politicians from Cameroon and foreigners, and they had set their sights on Americans in particular. It would only be a matter of time before they would come for her.

Tragic, heartwarming, and at times even humorous, Life and Death in Kolofata illustrates daily life for the people of Cameroon and their doctor, documenting both the incredible human suffering in the world and the difference that can be made by those willing to help.


Part 1
You will also require an umbrella
To the end of the earth
So here we are
Every day someone's child dies
Laying the foundation
Who among them ever heard of Descartes?
In their most dire poverty we find wealth
There are times when I really hate this work
The swift ticking of a little heart
There are no bridges
Amadou Ali
Slipping and sliding through the mud
When in doubt, do nothing, go nowhere, say not a word
He was burned everywhere
There is sure to be sorcery involved
Of donkeys, sheep and stables
The God in Kolofata

Part 2
She made it clear that she had reached her final destination
Keeping the front wheels in front of the back
I am counting on you, should God turn out to be Muslim
The father of the husband ate her
You know about satellite phones?
Write well to the Big People, tell them about this place
Whatever you do, don't say you're from English
Of the pain they bear, how much is our share?
The sous-préfet wants to see you
There is a huge difference between 108 and 112 degrees

Part 3
Their ability to cope is almost beyond belief
Sympathy and shared horror
Every jutting rib, every mother's tear
Some day my very soul will leave my body
Just weeds
People say it is blood being poured over the moon
God decided her time had come to die
They close the nose and mouth, lest the last breath escape
Bodies lying contorted on the sand
Where things get done
My mother, I am dying
I'm going to carry you on my back
Obama City
If you shake their hands, your testicles fall off
Here, take this, please, fix it

Part 4
I wonder who will deliver her first child
The war is going to come to Cameroon
Do they want to kill you or abduct you?
Who knows what they are eating
Our job is to take care of them to the best of our ability
What good fortune we Americans have had
How do you say no if the person asking is holding an AK-47?
Trekking to go somewhere, anywhere
Where I come from, you do not ask questions
We wondered if Kolofata was being set up as the bull's-eye
Not longer than seven years, seven weeks and seven days
Whatever you can do, you should do
Among the slaughtered are many we cared for




Publié par
Date de parution 05 janvier 2018
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780253032393
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0500€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


Map by Audrey Randall.
This book is a publication of
Indiana University Press
Office of Scholarly Publishing
Herman B Wells Library 350
1320 East 10th Street
Bloomington, Indiana 47405 USA
2018 by Ellen Einterz
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Information Sciences-Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1992.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Cataloging information is available from the Library of Congress.
978-0-253-03237-9 (cloth)
978-0-253-03238-6 (paper)
978-0-253-03239-3 (ebook)
1 2 3 4 5 23 22 21 20 19 18
This book is dedicated to the mothers and children of Africa .
It is reserved only for God and angels to be lookers on .
Francis Bacon
Author s Note
Part 1
You Will Also Require an Umbrella
To the End of the Earth
So Here We Are
Every Day Someone s Child Dies
Laying the Foundation
Who among Them Ever Heard of Descartes?
In Their Most Dire Poverty We Find Wealth
There Are Times When I Really Hate This Work
The Swift Ticking of a Little Heart
There Are No Bridges
Amadou Ali
Slipping and Sliding through the Mud
When in Doubt, Do Nothing, Go Nowhere, Say Not a Word
He Was Burned Everywhere
There Is Sure to Be Sorcery Involved
Of Donkeys, Sheep, and Stables
The God in Kolofata
Part 2
She Made It Clear That She Had Reached Her Final Destination
Keeping the Front Wheels in Front of the Back
I Am Counting on You, Should God Turn Out to Be Muslim
The Father of the Husband Ate Her
You Know about Satellite Phones?
Write Well to the Big People, Tell Them about This Place
Whatever You Do, Don t Say You re from English
Of the Pain They Bear, How Much Is Our Share?
The Sous-Pr fet Wants to See You
There Is a Huge Difference between 108 and 112 Degrees
Part 3
Their Ability to Cope Is Almost beyond Belief
Sympathy and Shared Horror
Every Jutting Rib, Every Mother s Tear
Some Day My Very Soul Will Leave My Body
Just Weeds
People Say It Is Blood Being Poured Over the Moon
God Decided Her Time Had Come to Die
They Close the Nose and Mouth, Lest the Last Breath Escape
Bodies Lying Contorted on the Sand
Where Things Get Done
My Mother, I Am Dying
I m Going to Carry You on My Back
Obama City
If You Shake Their Hands, Your Testicles Fall Off
Here, Take This, Please, Fix It
Part 4
I Wonder Who Will Deliver Her First Child
The War Is Going to Come to Cameroon
Do They Want to Kill You or Abduct You?
Who Knows What They Are Eating
Our Job Is to Take Care of Them to the Best of Our Ability
What Good Fortune We Americans Have Had
How Do You Say No if the Person Asking Is Holding an AK-47?
Trekking to Go Somewhere, Anywhere
Where I Come from, You Do Not Ask Questions
We Wondered if Kolofata Was Being Set Up as the Bull s-Eye
Not Longer Than Seven Years, Seven Weeks, and Seven Days
Whatever You Can Do, You Should Do
Among the Slaughtered Are Many We Cared For
M ANY YEARS AGO , Dan Carpenter, then a columnist for the Indianapolis Star , got hold of letters I had written to my family from Cameroon and suggested that a book be made of them. When I finally had time to do this, he was the first person I approached for criticism and guidance. For his inspiration, wisdom, and perseverance I am humbly grateful.
At the age of seventy-two, my mother bought a computer and taught herself to use it. She started typing the hand-written letters I sent from Africa and collecting them in a file so that when the day came, as she presumed it would, when I wanted to do something with them, I would have that huge step already out of the way. Without her hundreds of hours of tedious transcription, I m not sure I would have had the pluck to begin. While I was in Africa, she wrote to me daily on sheets of thin white notepaper-a different color ink for each day of the week-that she folded into a plain number 6 envelope every Monday morning. I cherished the image of her walking to the sidewalk outside their home every Monday, slipping that envelope into the black mailbox, and then lifting the red flag to signal to the mailman that there was something to pick up. Her letters to me were my incentive to write back, and this book is as much hers as it is mine.
My father died before he could see it, but he would have been pleased, I think, that it got done. My love of writing comes from him.
My twelve siblings-Fran Einterz, Bob Einterz, George Einterz, Diana Einterz, Cora Randall, Mike Einterz, Anne Lewandowski, Nancy Woolf, Theresa Willard, Andy Einterz, Katey Einterz Owen, and Johanna Webber-supported me in a million ways throughout my time in Cameroon and in other countries before that, and I thank them for the strength of their devotion and the warmth of their embrace. For many years, several among them and their children have quietly contributed substantial funds to further health care and education in Kolofata.
From the beginning, the people of Saint Matthew Parish in Indianapolis made sure we had what we needed to move on to the next step. They have been my lodestar.
Jackie French, Bev Richey, David and Sherry Abney, Judy Hipskind, Patsy and the late Tom Wisler, Marie Carson, Sue and the late Marty Moore, the late Joe Quill, the late Pauline Chelle, Sue Leonard, Craig and Lee Doyle, Michael and the late Pat Fisher, Jeanne Malad, Marilyn and Bob Hunter, Tom and the late Betty Herold, David Noyes, Karen and Bob Tarver, and others whose names would fill another chapter have given repeatedly of their time and treasure. I thank them all, and I thank the many who call themselves Anonymous.
Canada s Volunteer International Christian Service kept Myra and me fed for twenty-four years while ensuring that we were never alone in the challenges we faced in the field. It was always motivating to realize that ours were among the hands that embodied the VICS activist spirit of peace.
Fran Quigley and Gene Stone agreed, with apparent good cheer, to read my original manuscript, and I am grateful to them both for the gift of their time, care, and valuable comments. Thanks also to Rob Smith, Neil Sagebiel, the editors of Indiana University Press, and Bill Schneider for their interest and wise counsel.
Dr. Ken Flegel, a gifted physician, teacher, and friend, connected me to my first patients in Africa, and for that I will be forever in his debt.
Dr. Fabien Taieb brought laughter, bright ideas, and exquisite French cheese to Kolofata at times when I needed them most. I raise a special glass to him.
To my many students from around the world, thank you for all you taught me.
With his encouraging smile and a kind word, Dr. Baba Malloum Ousman reached out and caught me any time I started to falter, and Amadou Ali, my wise and omnipresent angel, brought light to every darkness. He kept me safe. I suspect I owe my life to him.
Myra Bates has been my dearest friend for longer than either of us cares to remember. In so many ways, she shouldered the heavier burden in Kolofata, and her courage, determination, and love made flowers bloom in the desert.
Finally, I am grateful to the people of Kolofata and its surrounding villages, to the staff of the Kolofata hospital, and to the hundreds of thousands of patients who placed their trust in us. They are the heroes of this story.
Author s Note
T HIS IS A work of nonfiction. Letters excerpted are selected from thousands of pages written in Cameroon-all pen on paper and with the salutation Dear Everyone unless otherwise stated-and sent to my family in the United States. To improve clarity in some instances, punctuation and paragraph divisions have been modified, spelling corrected and superfluous words removed. Any other alterations or additions to the letters as originally written are indicated by square brackets.
Muslim and Quran have been employed throughout to accord with current English spelling.
Some names have been changed.
Part I
For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business .
T. S. Eliot
W HEN AT LAST they came for us, we were not there. There were over two hundred of them, dressed in baggy trousers and unbuttoned camouflage shirts over singlets smudged with dirt and drenched with sweat. They rode into town aboard white Toyota pickup trucks and Chinese motorcycles, and they brandished rocket launchers, RPGs, and AK47s. It was a predawn Sunday: July 27, 2014, the last day of the holy month of Ramadan.
Friends later described to us what happened. Screaming, Allahu akbar! over and over again and firing into the air, they shouted orders and demanded in Hausa, Kanuri, and broken English: Where is Amadou Ali? Where are the American doctors?
Myra and I, the American doctors (though Myra was neither American nor a doctor), had been living under military guard for fifteen months, going little more than from house to ho

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