He is a young doctor literally without borders who chose to work with AIDS patients. When he was forced to leave his own strife-torn country as refugee he left behind his family including the woman he hopes to marry. She too is a doctor and because of his political situation, she was forced to leave her country recently as well. At the time she left, the safest African country seemed to be Kenya.
For awhile he accepted what his newly adopted country offered him as work: he joined the ranks of over-qualified African-Canadian security guards. While living through the horrors of everyday violence in his home country, he was able to sleep at night because his family and friends provided an almost impermeable sense of social cohesion. Alone in Canada, working at a job that offered no future, exiting the role of professional health care worker, his sense of self, of his identity was profoundly shaken. Then the nightmares began. Why is it that trauma as mental illnesses is integral to a western medical system yet depression, PTSD are not a prominent part of the medical profession in Africa where people are faced with struggle for the most basic human needs, such as freedom from violence, minimal nutrition and even water?
As he follows the violent eruptions in Kenya his first concern is finding a way to secure safety for his life partner. He feels that if she were here beside him in Canada that the two of them together could survive.
Meanwhile he has found another job. It seems ironic yet fitting that he works with the most at-risk Canadian populations, the urban homeless. He is learning rapidly that most of those living on the streets are mentally ill. Of this group how many are First Nations and Inuit? How many are women? These are the groups who are most vulnerable to social exclusion and who will not find the health care they need in the public system but who will never be able to access a private system.
As I read about the public/private health care debates I...