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two wandered north, empty-handed and barefooted up the shore of the lake, the child weakened to the point she could no longer walk. A fever set in and her breathing became shallow and labored.
      The day her mother carried her into Kibagora Hospital, Sandra Bagley, a nurse practitioner from Salt Lake City, called me to her bedside. "Listen to this," she said. Bagley pressed the diaphragm of a stethoscope under the ridge of one of the child’s shoulder blades. I fitted in the earpieces and concentrated. With each breath, the child’s lungs popped and crackled.
      "Sounds like Rice Krispies," Bagley said. "That’s pneumonia."
      In the past four days I’d seen three children, all five years old and under, die from respiratory-tract infections. The parents hadn’t wept. They’d simply covered the child’s face, wrapped its body in filthy rags and left without speaking. The death of one child, a Hutu boy who, if he’d had the strength to stand, wouldn’t have reached his mother’s knees, troubled me the most. When I ask myself why I so systematically persecuted the four-year-old, why driving her to tears every hour became my personal crusade, I can always point to this boy. It was him, I can argue. I had no choice.
      There were too many patients for the doctors and nurses to cope with, so I volunteered to help with simpler tasks. Patrick Huff, a general practitioner from Dallas, Ore., taught me—on a mango—how to suture. At night, I would practice on a battered leather recliner in the staff quarters, or stitch together split banana stalks. Bagley taught me some of the mechanics of respiratory therapy, using a device called a nebulizer—basically a high-tech, electrified bong. Sadly, it’s one of the few things critically ill patients are encouraged to smoke in the hospital. A nebulizer mixes saline solution with a drug that expands the bronchial tubes. The patient’s job is to inhale it; the therapist’s job is to sit there for 20 minutes or so, whacking the patient on the back so he or she will hack up the sludge he or she is drowning in.
      The critical thing is getting the patient to cough. The boy who’d died the day before barely had the strength to draw breath. It took him two days to die, while Sandra and I took turns doping his lungs and apologizing wordlessly to his parents. When I gave up hope, I undressed him and washed his shirt and rag of a diaper in a metal tub while his mother stood beside me and stared at the concrete floor. I bathed him, thinking that at least he’d be buried in clean clothes, and gave him back.
      After he died, I made it a point to be in the clinic four times a day, treating the four-year-old who’d just arrived. Weak as she was, she was still in better shape than the boy. The problem was that she could cough, but wouldn’t. I sat her on my lap for 20 minutes at a time, holding the nebulizer up to her lips, watching her inhale the vapors, rapping on her back, doing it over and over again. I coughed to show her what I wanted. I pointed to her. Now you. I pointed to my lungs. I made exaggerated breathing sounds, coughed again. She just shrank away, curled herself into a ball, gritted her teeth, and refused to look at me.
      I knew that most of the Whites she would have seen over the last year, "blue hats" from the U.N. "peacekeeping" force would have been heavily armed. I wondered if soldiers, either Hutu militia or uniformed Tutsi Army regulars, had killed her father. Whatever the reason, she was terrified of me. After a day and a half of doping her and pounding on her back, she hadn’t coughed once. I was in despair. On the evening of the second day, I told Bagley that the therapy wasn’t working and that I didn’t know what else I could do.
      Another nurse in the group was near mental collapse after an
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