Each metal shack held a variety of businesses...a small variety. They fell into the categories of salon, car wash, convenience store, and bar. Lots and lots of bars in metal shacks, referred to as "shabeens."
The U.S. Embassy and USAID staff who set up our tour were kind to our overpampered American sensitivities: we toured the hospital on a Friday, when the hospital only accepts new patients. I suspect that a normal day would have been overwhelming due to the number of treatments on an average day. There are currently 13,000 patients at this hospital, 9,000 of whom are active. ("Active" in this context doesn't mean they send Christmas cards to their doctors - it means they are on a continuous cycle of ARVs, HIV management through antiretroviral drugs.) We started in the paperwork-heavy administrative wing of the hospital, where we got to see first-hand the U.S.-donated computer systems that help doctors treat HIV patients efficiently and consistently. Namibian health care isn't just fighting the HIV virus, it's also fighting the social stigmas and misunderstandings that lead people to deny they have AIDS or fail to use medication appropriately. The computer systems help them reach out to patients to provide the support and reminders they need in order to make the treatments effective and prolong their life.
I’d maintained composure up to this point by focusing on the facts and figures of the information we were hearing: the number of patients rather than the lives behind those numbers, the fiscal details rather than the understanding of how many lives could be saved with an average American’s weekly food budget. But the information got harder to process in the next section of the hospital, where we met with pediatricians who are responsible for treating children. They're proud of the fact that anti-HIV efforts have dropped the percentage of pregnant women with the virus: one in five Namibian mothers suffer from HIV.