The World Health Organisation says that 700,000 children die anually of measles. Many suffer eye complications and become blind due to poor nutrition and the compounding affects of diarrhoea often associated with measles. Vitamin A drops can be given to help repair the eyes if given in time as well as a dose of tetracycline. I thought measles was just one of those uncomfortable sicknesses you didn’t want to get. You got spots and took a few days off school. Apparently though its a big killer and its why in Australia they try to immunise babies and children from the disease. Cynthia didn’t get immunised. NSW Health issued a warning in March about the risk of measles especially from those who’ve recently returned from an overseas trip. It seems as though this disease is ripping through south-east Asia at least. For us, in Beto Tasi, it means many children and young people brought down with a terrible suffering sickness – high fever in the hot tropics, vomiting, diarrhoea, intense coughing, increased heart rate for extended periods and very sore eyes. Basically, its something you just don’t want to get. We thought we were safe as we watched people dropping down around us. But 10 days ago it hit Cynthia. She doesn’t have the biggest sort of body so she doesn’t have a lot of reserves. In our family, she seems to get by with not too much sickness but this time she was hit hard. She also has a hole in one of the valves in her heart. For these reasons sometimes I feel bad about bringing her into a world like this. We took a couple of the sick to a clinic in town but there was not much to be done. Some of them made an arduous journey way up into the mountains to seek medicine from what you might call a witch doctor. For Cynthia, it was a case of taking panadol and laying in a dark room with the fan on (while the electricity works). Unfortunately the electricity was bad enough during this time that the villagers resurrected the old hand pump to get water. The usual way of getting water here is from a bore with an electric pump. We have an inverter and some car batteries for back up power for times like this to drive a fan. But of course, it was during this time that I was lending our inverter to a local micro-finance organisation to test as a battery backup to drive a computer to manage small loans for the poor. Ooops. Needless to say we are desperately looking forward to moving down to the new house. We plan to install solar panels and batteries and an inverter (which I wont lend, I promise). It also catches sea breezes, which you might think is a luxury, we see it more along the lines of an asset especially valuable in times of sickness. Cynthia is recovering but her main complaint is very sore eyes. The room must be almost completely blacked out and she is going a little crazy in the mind with nothing to do as she can’t use her eyes for reading or using the computer and she certainly cant go out of the house. She’s a bit scared but I think she’s going to be ok. I have issues with positive thinking which I am also trying to deal with.
On a lighter note, I took the kids to a party with the theme of wheels. All the kids had bikes to ride and last night we were oiling chains and pumping tyres in preparation for the big day. Serenity made a cape in the sewing room from scraps as a present for the birthday boy. Israel loved the challenge of riding around a big concrete circle with about thirty other little kids all teetering on the edge of having a mass pile up. Dad on the sidelines was pretty worried but they did him proud and came away unscathed.