While I looked at him in the awkward silence that fell after his sentence. I wondered how the team here could still be so passionate about their jobs; I hoped I would be the same, but I wasn’t sure.
What I was sure about is that the quality of care at Aden’s hospital is impressive. The intensive care unit is so well taken care of by the Yemeni team that once or twice I wondered if my work, as a temporary member of international staff, was needed.
After the brutal battle, Aden was mostly spared. But, the increasing poverty and easy access to weapons has made violence a daily routine for southern Yemenis.
One night, a week after my arrival at the hospital, a call woke me at 3 AM. It was the emergency room doctor calling for help: four patients had arrived at the same time, from the same shooting.
The most urgent was a 20-year-old boy with a thoracic wound – a gunshot to his chest – who couldn’t breathe.
While I was intubating him, my eyes fell on something bulky and awkward in his trouser pocket. As soon as the intubation procedure was over, I reached out my hand to move it.
I froze: I was holding a grenade.
A Yemeni colleague gently took it from my hand and went to take it where all the weapons belong: out of our hospital.
A subtle beast
Soon my attention was attracted by something else; some of the patients we were receiving at the hospital were malnourished, both children and young adults.
Yemen is sometimes said to be on the brink of famine. In Aden, the cases of malnutrition we saw were not that widespread, but my colleagues told me that the slice of the population slipping into poverty is growing constantly.