Dec 17, 2008

Personality - William Machesa;Zimbabwe's ambulance Samaritan

Zimbabwean mechanic William Machesa, 22, explains how the current cholera crisis persuaded him to turn his pick-up truck into an ambulance so he could ferry the sick to and from a clinic manned by international humanitarian teams.

There are no ambulances working any more in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, and so William's vehicle is chemically cleaned every time he ferries the sick to Budiriro clinic to curb the further spread of the deadly disease.

I started doing this from the onset of the cholera outbreak.

I thought it was a good idea to help the community. To date, I do not know the actual number of people that I have helped by ferrying them to the clinic in Budiriro but each week I help, let's say, about 35 to 42 people because sometimes I can take between four and eight clients a day.

What I charge all depends because for those who can pay, I charge 210 South African rand [about $21].

But some say they do not have the money or the equivalent in Zimbabwean dollars and cannot pay, so all I can do is ensure that I have enough fuel and if I do, then I take them.

I have no option other than to save lives.

If a patient doesn't have any money then we agree - the patient's relatives and I agree to save a life; maybe they have an item they can give me in return for taking their ill relative to get treatment.

For example one patient gave me a two-plate stove to cover my costs so I could do the work.

Weak and very frail

Sometimes I just do it for nothing, especially when they are young kids, you see, I have no option but to save the lives of the young ones.

On a daily basis I come across sick people while I am driving around.

Yesterday, there was a very young lady, who was possibly in her twenties.

She was weak and very frail with the problem of cholera.

She was being assisted by two women so I stopped for them. They didn't have any money to pay me but I just took them back to their place.

One of the lady's relatives, who was called Primrose, told me that the hospital had discouraged them from staying and she had been released because they said she was now better.

But from the look of things you could see that she was not well.

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