Saturday, December 15, 2007

Who's Running the StevenWarRan Persona?

Whoever it is, they've been at it for some time apparently. Here stevenwarran is at the 1993 March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay & Bi Equal Rights, dressed as a transgendered bumblebee.
Here he is standing between his handlers, "George" to the left, and "Peter" to the right.
Here's Martina Navratilova raising the rainbow flag.

There's Phil Donahue in tie and suspenders!

Here's Peter marching right behind Phil at the head of the parade!

Unlike the 20 or so apocalyptic private security guards protecting Ted Haggard's former congregation, it's doubtful a single marcher is packing heat.

Peter is with Doctors without Borders. He sent an email this week:

I am having a great time in sunny Bangladesh. On the map we are in southern Pirojpur District, city of Mathbaria.

The first week here we were exploring the cyclone devastated areas along the southern coast. We, the "French" team, had the westernmost area next to the Sunderban Forest preserve for Bengal tigers. Everywhere we went we saw wrecked towns and villages, ferries overturned, trees blocking the road, downed power lines and great holes in the road from uprooted trees . We would drive through the wreckage talking to government emergency coordinators, health care workers, village doctors and pharmacists trying to see if there were outbreaks of cholera or diarrhea, dragging trees out of the road and holding up power lines with branches so the car could pass. We slept in abandoned schools, some government official’s bungalow and in the truck. And every night at midnight we sent a report by candlelight and computer battery back to Paris.

In this area, Mathbaria, all of the coastal villages had scores of dead, and the survivors living in shelters built of what pieces of corrugated tin they could salvage, drinking water out of the river with dead animals floating by. I spoke with the head of the area hospital who said that he couldn’t cope with the demand and that there were areas he had not yet reached. So MSF came to help.

We started a mobile clinic program going to the most remote coastal villages and a water treatment program to restore drinking water to the villages and to the hospital. We are also distributing blankets to children under five, soap to all patients and water treatment tablets to all patients and their families. I now have four mobile clinics operating which see over 300 patients a day. We see lots of diarrhea, respiratory and skin infections and every day have to turn away patients with the promise that we will be back tomorrow. Some patients we have to transport to the hospital but almost all we can treat on site.

The situation is gradually improving and I hope that we can finish up by the end of the month and let the national health system take over. It’s a beautiful country; flat, green delta land surrounded by water like Louisiana with rice fields stretching out on all sides. The people are so welcoming to us as they busily and ceaselessly clean up the wreckage. Men stop chopping the fallen trees in the road to wave and women invite us into their palm leaf shelters to get out of the sun, little children dare each other to ask me a question in English.

We have set up clinics wherever possible in whatever can accommodate us. One of our clinics is on a river island so we hired a wooden fishing trawler to glide down a canal choked with water hyacinth,( sometimes we have to get out and push or haul), past broken bridges out into the wide river to the island of Majenchor. The villagers have made a landing jetty for us out of wrecked rowboats so we don’t have to step in the mud while unloading our supplies. Another clinic we reach in a caravan of rickshaw vans that we push along a mud road that winds through the rice paddies. And another is in a village school the walls of which were blown off during the storm but the wooden framework and roof are intact. One of the villagers always manages to bring us tea mid morning.

We rented out an entire small hotel for our base in the city of Mathbaria on the main square right next to the Big Mosque. We eat in a restaurant next door where there is an endless supply of curry, chilis and tea. If you linger long over lunch you can often see dinner being led in, squawking or baaing depending on the menu. My room in the hotel is on the third floor and on ear level with the minaret from which a loudspeaker- amplified call to prayer issues each morning at five. Luckily the singer always clears his throat before starting which is my cue to fold my pillow over my ears. One of the singers has a beautiful voice improvising with an ecstatic lilt, therefore a pleasure to hear. Another lacks enthusiasm, is prone to long pauses so that just when you think he has finished he starts up again, does the call in a rote manner and you feel that he is just phoning it in.

Our office is on the ground floor of the hotel, in back, overlooking a pond by the mosque where people bathe in the morning and schools of black mouthed fish rise to feed in the evening. From the roof you can watch the sunset over the market place and the stars come out in this city without electricity, (we have our own generator). The Eid festival, commemorating Abraham’s aborted sacrifice of Isaac, is coming up on the 21st ( national holiday), and the square in front of our hotel will be filled with the devout I am told. And I am having a great time.

I became the project coordinator so have the task of coping with the thousands of problems to be solved each day. Sometimes I feel like I am pushing the entire project along through this day into the next, listening to staff complain that their lunch was too greasy, having to get customs to let our latest shipment of water treatment pills through without the usual delays, locating the water/sanitation team that missed their boat and attending lengthy coordination meetings with government officials during which we always break for tea. But the place is beautiful, the people friendly, there is no war and I move each day from clinic to clinic, from rice paddy to island, from village to village, gliding down a river or pushing a rickshaw. SO until the end of the month I will be measuring out my life in cups of tea, compiling statistics, attending more endless meetings, supervising clinics in remote, romantic locales and enjoying this beautiful country as it gets back up on its feet. Merry Christmas to all, and Happy Eid Love Peter
I know this was supposed to be about stevenwarran, but the work Peter's doing sounds much more useful.

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