I spent nine days in hospital while I’ve been here: an interesting experience. I don’t know where to start – it’s been a lot to deal with.
After we got here, I found a big bruise on my leg, but I didn’t think anything of it at first. Callum kept saying to me, “Do you think we should tell Nick [Maurice] or Caro [Strover]?”
Two days in, my leg starting really hurting and I was struggling to walk. So Dr Nick checked out my leg and said, “Abbie, I’m afraid you need to go to hospital, right now. It’s an emergency.”
I felt panicky and disappointed. They whisked me away to hospital. It was about eleven o’clock at night. I got into my hospital room at one in the morning, after lots of injections and blood tests. It took three people to hold me down for my injections! I’m not good with needles.
Then the doctor confirmed I had a deep vein thrombosis. The only thought that was going through my mind was: Oh God, what am I going to do?
But everybody was lovely. Dr Nick knew lots of people at the hospital. Whenever I was crying, they told me I could do this, that I’m strong.
They discharged me after a day, but in hindsight that wasn’t a good idea, because I had to be readmitted. This time I knew I’d be in for longer, and everything got a lot harder.
I felt more pessimistic. There was no end in sight. No one gave me a date or a timeframe. Staring at four walls, and the only sound is a fan going round and round. Seconds felt like hours.
People visited but then I’d be left alone. I felt so trapped. I couldn’t walk, I had no independence. A really weird sensation.
To be in an African hospital, a thousand miles from home is a pretty scary experience.
I had my bloods taken every day. I have bruises on both arms and legs. Everything hurt. But at least I think I may have got over my fear of needles!
I came back to the group yesterday. And this morning, I went to church for the very first time in my life. I felt a bit uncomfortable, but it helped that Colin [Heber-Percy] said God is all-loving. There was lots of singing, and an upbeat atmosphere.
My Gambian partner, Leontine, was leading the choir. She’s an amazing singer, and it was lovely to see her.
After the service we went to visit Leontine’s compound next to the church. It was wonderful to meet her family and very interesting to see how families live and work all in the same compound. Here, everything’s completely open and friendly, nothing like I have experienced in the UK.
And then we went to a performance tonight given by the TTV (Thriving Through Venture) performance project. It was a drama with music about identity, and it included lots of amazing tribal dances.
But the overriding message was – it doesn’t matter what tribe you belong to, what country you come from, or what the colour of your skin happens to be – we’re one family. Even though it rained, it didn’t matter.
Because of the rain, we were all packed in, all under the same leaky roof. That felt sort of right.
Caro said to me a lot in hospital, when I’d lost faith in everything, that unconditional love is always there. You don’t need it proved; you just have to have faith in it. This trip has shown me that Caro is right – there is unconditional love in this world, and it’s everywhere.
Everybody has been so kind, so supportive, and so forgiving. And all the people I’ve met here, like Baai and Manlafi at TARUD, are the most welcoming and loving people. Living proof of Caro’s words – you can find love in the strangest of places and in the company of strangers who now feel like friends.
And a massive thank you to all the staff at Africmed.
Abbie Hewer, 17
Kingsbury Green Academy