Sunday, July 30, 2006

Daniel is ill yet again

Daniel is ill again with a dreadful flu like virus. The symptoms began nearly a week ago and he says they are different to the ones he suffered through earlier in the year. We know of quite a number of people in Dili who are similarly unwell.

This morning he awoke with a temperature of 38.9C and we both decided it was time to visit a doctor. As the Australian Embassy doctor has left Timor for Laos and his substitute will not arrive until Wednesday, we went to the free clinic in Bairo Pite which is a short walk from where we are staying in Aitarak-laran.

We arrived just after 8am and found the place deserted apart from a security guard. He told us to go into the clinic and wait. As we sat down and admired the beautiful artwork by students of Arte Moris, we noticed a door to our right with a plaque above it that read “Dr Dan”. Within seconds, the man himself walked out and invited Daniel in.

Dr Dan is (in)famous in Timor. He arrived in the mid to late 1990s during the Indonesian occupation and has remained ever since. An American by birth and now in his 50/60s, he has made Timor his home. His clinic sees hundreds of Timorese every day except Sunday (all at no charge) which was why the clinic was deserted of patients.

After consulting Dr Dan, a nurse took a finger prick of blood to test it for malaria. Dr Dan then talked to us. I got the distinct impression that he was one of those who believe in the (conspiracy) theories that Australia was up to no good and had instigated the unrest and violence that led to Alkatiri’s downfall. This did not endear him to me. Still, medical doctors are in short supply in Timor and there is no doubt that he provides a highly valuable service to the many thousands of impoverished Timorese. His obvious dedication and commitment to the poor is to be commended.

Category: Timor-Leste (East Timor)

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