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Grade 6 Reading Comprehensions


Drama in the Field (part 1)


Drama in the Field (part 1)
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grade 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.35

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    absorption, bandicoot, medium-well, pale-skinned, pith, rat-like, sanitary, semi-permanent, semiconscious, well-stocked, starvation, air-conditioned, demeanor, suspicion, gravely, hysterical
     content words:    Papua New Guinea, Samantha Goodloe, Joy Fulbright, As Joy


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Drama in the Field (part 1)
By Brenda B. Covert
  

1     As I sat with my hosts for the evening, pretending to eat my share of Sago [SAY-go], my mind transported me back to my last meal in an American restaurant. Had it only been six weeks ago that I had dined on a delicious steak cooked medium-well with a buttery, steaming, baked potato on the side? Now I was "eating" tree pith strained with water from the polluted river. Sago is the staple food of the people living in this remote village in Papua New Guinea [PNG]. It grows in swampy wetlands. The foul water contributes to the diarrhea and skin diseases from which many inhabitants are suffering, but they don't realize this. Seventy percent of all villages lack safe drinking water! Malnutrition is on the rise, and child immunization is dropping. Furthermore, it is highly probable that AIDS will take over PNG in just a few years if something is not done. They need me here!
 
2     I am Dr. Samantha Goodloe. My life as a medical missionary is hectic, to say the least. I left behind an air-conditioned office with well-stocked, sanitary examination rooms in a country where nearly everyone speaks English, for the uncertainty of an overseas mission field where on this island alone 800 different languages are spoken! I have accepted a life complete with mosquitoes, humidity, cramped spaces, and scarce supplies. In this area there is an average of only one doctor per 13,000 inhabitants! So badly do the people need medical attention that they can't afford to view a pale-skinned, female doctor with suspicion. Indeed, there is nothing to be suspicious about. I sincerely want to make life better for them.
 
3     The villagers were performing in an elaborate ceremony complete with painted warriors whose costumes feature feathers and shells. Since everyone was watching them, it was easy for me to avoid eating the sago. My partner, Dr. Joy Fulbright, sampled the rice, beans, and yams that the women of the local clan grew. Neither one of us was brave enough to try the bandicoot. That's a rat-like marsupial mammal that dines on insects and plants. For all we knew its flesh might taste wonderful (maybe it tasted like chicken), but we agreed that the only thing that would cause us to commence feasting on bandicoot was severe starvation. Luckily, we had brought a large stock of food supplies with us.
 
4     From the corner of my eye I detected a movement. One of Gabriel's young children slipped up to sit beside me. His big, black eyes gazed up shyly at my face. His arm still bore the bandage from his immunization shot. The needle made him cry. I was glad to see that he had forgiven me for causing his temporary pain. His other three siblings huddled close to the elders of the clan, where a grandfather sat watching the proceedings.

Paragraphs 5 to 13:
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