Building grand ambition

Our final official engagement is a tour of the new hospital opposite the cathedral and the attached embryonic medical school (which used to be, alarmingly, a funeral home).

The hospital is still closed. Denkar tells us confidently that they have reached a deal with Siemens and that it will be opening in September. There is some equipment, in the children’s operating theatres with blue walls painted to look like the sea, there are the theatre lights all ready - waiting for patients and staff. There is a small pipe emerging from the floor for where the operating table will be. A half-unwrapped stretcher is marooned in the middle of the atrium, amidst dying plants and stagnant fountains. It all feels a little lost and sad. If it’s open in September, it will be quite a feat of effort - almost miraculous.

As we tour the third floor, I find myself for a moment alone in what will become one of the post-surgery recovery rooms. It has a hopeful view of the cathedral and I spend a moment staring out over the compound and to the house we have stayed in for the last three weeks behind.

Everything is bathed in a golden light and the Archbishop’s garden gleams greenly. Hope definitely powers this place.

We will be back. And in the interim will do all we can to help raise support for this community desperate to rebuild.

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