Any Filipino Doctors Listening?
By Sr. Rosalinda Gonzales, mmm
Sr. Rosalinda recalls her trip back to Africa where she is the only Filipino in an Irish Congregation of Sister Doctors.
My last holiday home to the Philippines was a great relief and a great rest but then the hour came to return to Africa. To be honest, I literally dragged myself to pack up my bags to travel back to Africa. I didn’t realize until then that I was spent and tired. It was difficult leaving home again now that I have only my remaining sisters Eulenia and Angeline. Papa was called to his ‘final home’ since my last home leave. Long before that was Mama, followed later by my brother Ruben. As Eulenia said, we will be three years older on our next reunion.
With the new set-up at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), my sisters had to leave shortly after seeing me off at the departure gate.
I boarded the British Airways (BA) flight to London Heathrow Airport and even before reaching Hongkong, the first stop-over, I was already feeling homesick. I prayed the Rosary and feel asleep most of the time during the journey to London.
“Do not be afraid. For I have redeemed you. I have called you by your name. You are mine. Should you pass through the waters I shall be with you.” (Is 43:1-2)
After some hassle in London over my ticket to Holland, I reached Amsterdam Schipol Airport safely. It was raining heavily and the temperature was 9° C. I had enough time to buy some presents of chocolate sweets for my MMM Sisters at the Duty Free Shops then rushed on to the boarding gate.
On board the KML plane to Dar es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania, Fr. Hans Peters greeted me. He was returning to his mission in Mabamba. It was good to have company. We arrived before midnight at Dar es Salaam Airport. The temperature was 25°C.
It was past midnight when we collected our luggage and went out of the Airport area. Fr. Vic Missiaen met us and brought us to our lodgings. There was a five-hour difference in time between Dar es Salaam and Manila, so I tried to shake off the jetlog by resting the whole day. Messages from Kabanga Hospitals awaited me to do some errands while waiting from my flight to Kigoma on Friday. Meanwhile I heard that Kigoma was almost isolated by the terrible flocks.
Fr. Vic offered his car and his time to help me buy medicines and books, follow up certain applications and papers, delayed freighted medicines and supplies. At the end of the day, we even had time for an ice cream.
Having arrived very early at the airport we were told, to our great disappointment, that our flight would be delayed. At 12:45 pm we were told to board the plane and landed at Tabora Airport for refueling. It was the first time in weeks that a plane was able to land there due to flooding. After the brief stop-over we were airborne again enroute to Kigoma but the heavy thunderstorm, as we were about to descend, made the pilot decide wisely to return to Tabora and try to the next morning. It was already 5:00 pm and the passengers were billeted to a hotel. Fr. Hans invited me to go to the Pastoral Centre which is run by the White Fathers. It rained heavily during the night.
We landed safely in Kigoma Airport at 10:00 am. The parish priest, Fr Paul Kibada, met us and brought us to the mission.
I booked a seat and space for my luggage. Praise the Lord. At night over the radiotel, Sr. Patricia informed us that the hospital car will come on Monday.
Driver Agostino arrived without a car at the mission having already bought 2 new fan belts. The hospital car had broken down and he got a lift to reach us in Kigoma. We both got into Fr. Fideli’s car and traveled to where the car and broken down. Agostino mended the car and returned to Kabanga later while myself and Sr. Fidela were brought home to Kabanga by Fr. Fideli.
I was back to work.
“The Lord has carried you as a father carries is child all along the road your traveled.” (Deut 1:31)