Author(s): Damien Brown
Damien Brown is a twenty-nine-year-old Australian doctor, inexperienced but motivated by a strong desire to help, when he arrives in Angola - an impoverished, war-torn country in south west Africa - for a six-month posting with Medecins Sans Frontieres. It's his first stint with the organisation, and he thinks he's ready. But the town he's sent to is an isolated outpost of mud huts, surrounded by landmines; the hospital, for which he's to be the only doctor, is filled with malnourished children and conditions he's never encountered; and the health workers, a group of fifty-something-year-old African war veterans who speak only Portuguese - a language Damien doesn't understand - walk off following an altercation on his first shift. During the months that follow, Damien confronts the personal and professional challenges of life in such an alien context, all the while dealing with the social absurdities of living with only three other volunteers for company. Medical calamities account for the highs and lows of day-to-day life - a leopard attack, a landmine explosion, and having to perform surgery using tools cleaned on the fire being among the many examples - but it's through Damien's evolving friendships with the health workers, formerly his biggest challengers, that his empathy and understanding grows. Band-aid for a Broken Leg is vivid, honest, funny and full of humanity.