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Oct 7, 2015 · My time as a Muzungu

Jessie* looked like something out of a textbook: bone thin arms, legs puffy with edema, perfectly round stomach, glazed over eyes. As the physician quizzed me on the appropriate treatment for malnutrition, Jessie barely reacted. He looked like the stereotypical “starving African child” I’d seen on ads for this non-profit or that charity fund more times than I could count. But he was right in front of me now—my patient. As we talked with his grandma, the story of his five short years took shape: his mom had left, his step-mom neglected him, and his dad was working too much to care for him. He had been passed around until he ended up in front of me, and finally he was being cared for. Over the next few days, Jessie came alive. His eyes were brighter, he looked at me (the “muzungu”, or white person) with the mix of interest and hesitancy the other children did, and he ate with vigor. A few days of cheap treatment was bringing the dead back to life before my eyes. He was getting back his personality, and with it, a second chance at life. [...]
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