I remember reading the Jungle Doctor stories when I was much younger and really enjoying them… so I was looking forward to listening to this audio book with my children. I thought it would make fun family listening. Yes, it was a great listen but not so much fun, as gripping. A story about a village clinic in Tanzania threatened by an impending epidemic of dysentery and if that wasn’t enough, a rich young drug lord arrives on the scene to disrupt the ebb and flow of the local people. As you can see a serious story full of serious topics.
The story covers an emergency situation, set on a mission hospital, Mvumi Hospital, in central Tanzania. The epidemic arrives on the winds of a “whirlwind,” hence the title, and the locals must keep the disease carrying flies at bay. The team of workers have to keep the patients clean and their medicine charts up to date. A system of hand washing with a very limited water supply was set up… lots of interesting life-skills were learnt while reading this book. And all the while the gospel story was threaded through and woven into the story. The drug lord, who disrupts the pre-epidemic preparations and whose insidious behaviour nearly left the clinic unprepared for the emergency… provides a serious thread to follow and be warned (spoiler alert) he suffers the consequences of stealing medication early on in the epidemic when near the end of the book there was not sufficient medication available to him, with dire consequences. My most sensitive listener was a little distressed by this event.
The story is brought to us by a missionary, the Jungle Doctor, who is an Australian working in Africa at the time – relating the adventures as he experiences them. he is a long way from home and for his sake and really for the readers sake the book begins with a glossary of Swahili terms that they use in the book. In fact the audio book begins with a couple of introductions to a few topics that are addressed in the story: Dysentery, Malaria and such like. I have to say that this initial glossary is quite dry and I know that I lost my younger audience here.
My older kids, ages nine and up, persevered and were rewarded with a very exciting and interesting story. They were quite intrigued to hear the daily ins and outs of a the life of a missionary in the field. I wouldn’t say that it was an easy read/listen, and it got them thinking and talking about a lot of topical topics. And I am all for that… love a heap of questions from my kids, because clearly they were engaged enough and listening well enough to process it and think about the story they were listening too. I have to say overall this is a great listen and a fabulous way for kids to learn about day-to-day life, as a missionary out in the field.