GANSU, INC WEEKLY REPORT # 8 B
16 - 22 JULY
PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA
Wow, what a week for us here in Qinghai! We (Juliet, Bill and I) have again found
ourselves setting up a new compound and arranging boxes, establishing hospital
relationships, experiencing highs and lows with different challenges, and settling in. We
have greatly appreciated the assistance of Hildegard Moir, a seasoned volunteer (great
organizer and worker), and Lance Stephen (who has learned quickly without complaint).
Both have been essentials during the set up. In this team, we have also incorporated a
WONDERFUL young Tibetan (26), who has been invaluable to us. He has lifted, carted,
translated (Chinese and Tibetan), sorted, cleaned, stashed, and done anything and
everything (and then some!) that has been asked of him. All this has been done with a
smile and a loving way. He is, and has been, our “brother” and has spread that love to
those who come to us. We met him several years ago in another town in which we
served, and he is a wonderful light in darkness. Now we teach him about physical
“eyes”; he already knows “the eyes of the heart”!
The goal set by our Health Bureau hosts from Xining (capital city of Qinghai), was for us
to begin surgery by Friday, 20 July. With boxes coming from both Xinjiang Province
(where we served the past three summers) and the U.S., we cleaned, combined,
organized, and took stock of what is available. A challenge! Also, the setting up of the
trailer took place. A light-weight canopy had been placed over the trailer, and with a
sizeable rain, the pooled waters aloft came down on the trailer and screen room,
bending one support pole significantly. The aluminum pole was repaired by the very
resourceful Chinese workers - the pole was packed tightly with sand (to avoid “kinking”
it) and bent back straight.
We got things ship-shape by late Thursday night, working 10-12 hour days. The
opening ceremony took place Friday morning, with the local Prefecture Governor and
Party Secretary, Health Bureau heads, Hospital heads, and television camera on hand.
There were greetings, welcoming, and the usual goals stated by Bill that we volunteer
and bring love from many people in America who support this project - our goal being to
bring “sight” to the needy people of this Province. The needy people include Hui
(Muslim), Tibetan (70% of the area), Han, and Mongolian. Following the speeches, a
great cloud of smoke was created when fireworks were set off to commemorate the first
We had seen the pre-ops on Thursday afternoon along with consultations galore. There
was almost a riot outside our examining room, for the crush of people determined to be
seen. Each time the door was opened, people tried to force their way in. I had forgotten
my camera, but an older Tibetan woman and bent over man with a walking stick
“sneaked” into the room, sitting on the floor behind the patient already seated at the slit
lamp. They were determined not to be left out! Again, as in Gansu, we have seen many
bilaterally blind patients. Saturday, at post ops, found patients once again seeing, and
one patient thought it most interesting that his doctor had white hair. We got a picture
with his doctor (Bill); the patient clasped both hands in his and expressed joy in not
having to spend his days blind. A very touching scene for us all!
Sunday found us gathered for our meeting together, there being no fellowship for us to
attend in town. We had translations going on from all sides. Our young Tibetan sang in
his language, and Juliet sang in Chinese, while we were limited to English! It was a
memorable morning together! Following that, “the girls”, plus our Tibetan young man
(and his newly arrived wife), set out to explore the city a bit. We had a great time
walking around the main street, and found a lot to look over, but now look forward to
beginning our Monday with surgery - the real purpose of our work. We feel privileged to
be here and find that even with some food difficulties we seem to be managing well.
Can I tell a little story before I close? I found great humor in the fact that Juliet had
informed the hospital (before we arrived) that we needed a sit-down (western) toilet.
Well, they put one sideways, over the squat hole that was already in place in the floor,
without putting in further outlet plumbing from the sit-down. They did establish input
water, but our toilet just runs into the floor level squat hole. I found it most ingenious,
and we decided to “sort of” tape off the exposed long ends of the squat hole. Perhaps
you cannot visualize this, and that is O.K., but I just thought it was unique how they
provided our need. Some volunteers are easily amused!
We think of many of you there, and trust you are having a good summer. We wish we
could provide you the picture of monks in their robes, wandering about our compound,
often with prayer beads in hand. We are seeing a lot of them in clinic, along with a few
other culture groups, as well. Currently we also represent one of China’s minorities, for
we have seen other Caucasians only on one day in a tour group. Mostly, if they do
come here, they come to see Qinghai Lake and go to Bird Island (at its western end) to
enjoy bird watching.
We send our love and best to each of you, if you have managed to finish this lengthy
Peggy Conrad, for Bill, Lance, Hildegard, Juliet, “Kevin” and wife; all members of
Team #1, Gonghe, Hainan Prefecture, Qinghai Province, PRC.