February 20, 2008


CHUUK HOSPITAL, Weno- Chuuk hospital sits atop a hill that commands a magnificent view of downtown Weno and the usually hazy islands that make up the Faichuk region. Here, the three donated ambulances are busy almost every day-ferrying the sick to Chuuk's only hospital and returning the dead to their villages on Weno or boats awaiting their remains to their home islands.

With the dilapidating economy of Chuuk as the backdrop, life seems to be hopeless. Even the roads with potholes the size of King Kong footprints and dust prove unbearable. Life is bleak at all levels.

A quick glance at the ward on the second floor of Chuuk hospital is another testament. In the men's section, a 220 volt electrical line runs downward from the ceiling through the patients ward in a pvc pipe. Part of the electrical line is not covered and, "once a piece of cloth or whatever touches, boom, the whole hospital will catch on fire." This statement was made by a hospital staff who begged not to use his name.

Dangling from another section of the bare ceiling is an electrical wiring that is not covered in a pvc pipe. Less than five feet from where the nurses are stationed, a big switch box for the entire floor attaches to the wall without the cover.

In another underdevelopment, the same floor-an open ward that is transparent from one end to the other-sick patients are mingled with attendants, sometimes four or five at a time. This floor "has not had electrical power from before Christmas", in the word of a nurse who also appealed for anonymity.

On the fourth of this month, a young man-Tiofil Hauk-was admitted and was assigned to this very floor. It was dark, hot and everyone was bitten by mosquitoes. Upon arrival, Hauk younger brother Moses, age 22, could not stand the fact that here was his older brother- sick-and it was hot. Wasting no time, he went over and asked the attending nurses why there was no electricity. With only the light of a lantern, he was eventually let to the switchbox. "One of the lines in the switchbox was dripped from grounded." In less than 30 minutes, the sick patients of Chuuk hospital were restored with lights and fans and rid off mosquitoes, all without a single penny to Hauk. "I was very glad I was able to help them, I didn't expect anyone to pay me", so says Hauk upon questioning.

[Editor's Note: I did no editing on the above article. The issue is important and so we ran the article in its entirety. Despite my own experience with electrical wiring I could not understand the line, "one of the lines in the switchbox was dripped from grounded."]