Both a social statement regarding international relations and a series of fascinating biographical accounts, “A Surgeon in the Village” is the culmination of many years of research and interviews. Tony Bartelme of Charleston uses his astounding writing skills to capture the audience, who assuredly will also find themselves stunned by the many amazing people found in his book.
Bartelme begins by introducing us to Doctor Dilan Ellegala and follows him to a rural hospital in Tanzania. From there we are given a first-hand view of the epidemic that kills millions of citizens from poor countries. This is not simply a disease, but the lack of doctors and training needed to combat even the simplest of health-related problems.
Dr. Ellegala finds a purpose in Haydom Lutheran Hospital and grapples with the immense problem he has found, and one that is not technically his own. The audience is taken step-by-step through of the neurosurgeon’s thoughts by means of Bartelme’s detailed but not oversaturated writing, meaning nothing is beyond the average person’s understanding.
By addressing the problem and pinpointing why potential solutions are not working or even making matters worse, Dr. Ellegala slowly came to what he believed would be a more sustainable and logical solution. This is when Emmanuel Mayegga steps onto the stage as Dr. Ellegala’s first student in Tanzania on neurosurgery.
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The process of course takes place over the entirety of the book, which is for the most part a chronological series of events that hops from one person to another, from doctor to student. This includes Doctor Carin Hoek, a pediatrician from The Netherlands who reaches the same conclusion as Dr. Ellegala during her two year stay in Tanzania.
Bartelme’s masterful command of narration helps a book about surgery, administration, and a bit of international politics read like a novel. The audience learns enough about each character to be vested in each one and not least of all the cause they are fighting for. This makes their impact all the stronger because it’s a true story after all, one that continues to develop and can even be influenced by the readers themselves.
“A Surgeon in the Village” is more than just an inspiring tale of a Western trained doctor helping in an impoverished country. Bartelme uses Dr. Ellegala’s story, and the story of the other doctors and nurses he interacted with, as a means of introducing a solution that would actually improve so called third-world countries. It seems the answer was never with the Western world, but within each nation.
At A Glance
Title | A Surgeon in the Village
Author | Tony Bartelme
Publisher | Beacon Press
Cost | $27.95
Length | 274 pages