Saira, Pakistan and Washington

Saira is a senior President’s Scholar and member of the University Honors Program who is majoring in biology and anthropology in Dedman College. She received a Richter Fellowship to travel to Peshawar, Pakistan, during winter break 2012 to research the health of Afghani refugee children. Then, during spring 2012, she will intern with the U.S. Department of State.

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The value of a life

I shudder every time I think about it. My eyes fill with tears without fail. In the past two weeks, I’d seen more pain and suffering than I had in my entire life.

A bomb went off four days ago on  a main road that we cross every day on our way to the hospital, 30 minutes after we crossed it. The victims were all rushed to the Mass Emergency Unit, my unit. I had left the hospital by then, but the next day I was filled in on the situation. Twelve were injured and six killed. The head nurse said the situation was good compared to two years ago. The situation had improved.

To me it didn’t appear so. Today, another bomb went off on the outskirts of Peshawar. This time I was at the hospital.

The doctors were on their first day of strike due to the killing of another doctor. They worked with a fraction of their already short staff, and then it began. I heard shots commanding people to make way as stretchers were rushed into the Mass Emergency Unit. I sat unaware in the doctor’s office discussing diarrhea patients (whom he was refusing to see) when a nurse came to inform us of the bomb that had just gone off. The doctors remained unfazed. Unlike me, they had learned to detach themselves from the situation. I didn’t know how to react – whether I should rush out and see the bomb patients or stay protected in the doctor’s office. I decided to take the middle road, and slowly went out to observe the almost peaceful chaos that had taken over the ward. I grabbed a colleague and told her she had to go into the Emergency Room with me – I wanted to see it for myself.

The doctors had started temporarily bandaging patients. Patients came in two or three at a time, but nurses, doctors, families and media were beginning to fill the room. The patients were stabilized and then sent to the surgery ward one after the other.

I had been taught that every life was valuable. The horror right before my eyes spoke to the suffering of the country of Pakistan. People need to know about Pakistan. Here’s a news story about the bombing.

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