Friday, January 27, 2012
Monday, January 23, 2012
Blessings to you all. We send our love across the ocean.
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Sunday morning was a beautiful African morning. There’s a quote by Ernest Hemingway painted on the wall here at Jolly Boys: I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke up that I was not happy.
We had breakfast here at Jolly Boys, and our ride to Victoria Falls was here promptly at 10.
We agreed that we would begin our adventure by doing the steep hike down and back up from the Boiling Pot (Google it!) and that worked out well. After working up a sweat and being rewarded by a spectacular view not too far from the base of the falls, we then trekked along the trail across from the spectacular natural wonder of the world. Being that we’re in the rainy season, the falls were full and raging gloriously. We were soaked by the spray and soaked in the power and beauty. Because it was a sunny day, rainbows appeared through the mist (though it’s hard to call it mist—it was more like a steady rain!)
Shopping at the vendors was a rather harrowing experience for some, but we all made it out alive and with a variety of gifts and souvenirs to bring home. The real rain held off until the end of shopping and we piled into taxis to get back to our temporary home.
Dinner was a Jolly Boys because we were a little worn out. My friend Steven came and drove a van load of us to his artist friends Lawrence and Agnes where the girls could spend what they wanted of their kwacha on Agnes’s lovely handmade jewelry.I think we all had some difficulty falling asleep, and staying asleep. Today is travel day! We are turning our hearts toward home… though part of our hearts will remain here.
On the path to the Boiling Pot
Everyone made it!
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Friday, January 20, 2012
After lunch, we gathered together, dividing up the thank you notes and small gifts we had for hospital and nursing school staff and walked together once more to the hospital. We didn’t get to see all the individuals we had spent time with over the past two weeks, but many of them. Gratitude and affection flowed both ways.
We shared our last supper in the dining room and afterwards met at Gobela House to hear Dr. Phil Thuma (Wanda’s brother) give a talk on malaria. We learned the history of the disease, the efforts in treatment and reduction of transmission over the past 20 years in Zambia. It was encouraging to hear how much progress has been made in the area around Macha—a 97% reduction in cases in the past 10 years! MIAM will be initiating two projects in other areas that struggle a lot with malaria to try to prove Dr. Thuma’s hypothesis that the work done at Macha which has saved so many lives can be reproduced elsewhere.
Packing up. The bus comes at 9:00 in the morning.
The Dutch medical students joined us again for breakfast this morning. We will be remembering them as they continue their stay and strive to both serve and learn.
Chris and Marlys came to see us off. They’ve been very good to us, and we hope that they have enjoyed our company too!
Once we arrive in Livingstone (pronounced Living Stone) I will be texting my friend Steven. He is an art teacher at a Catholic girls school there and he has made arrangements for me to speak to a gathering of all his art studnets—40-50 of them. I’ve don’t a few little drawings and paintings that I will leave behind for Steven which will hopefully encourage him and his students.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Working in the ART Clinic doing paper work by camera light when the power went out, again.
Naming the days (Monday, Tuesday, etc.) seems rather meaningless. Now I simply identify them as “Outreach Day,” Rounds Day, ART clinic Day. And even more bittersweet “Two days before we leave Macha,” “Last full day in Macha”…
I confess to missing my family deeply, but I also know that next week at this time I will be missing the sound of the voices I have come to care about, the faces I have memorized. I have seen a noble spirit in both the Messiah girls and in the people of Macha. To work for good against strong forces inspires me. There is so much that can go awry in the human body but medical personale really do help us improve our quality of life.
Yesterday morning (Wednesday, if I am pressed to say) I went to peds with a few of the girls and watched them interact with a little boy, four or five years old, who was in traction with a broken leg. There were no common words to share, but smiles and gentle touches left him giggling and gave him something to think about as he had to stay in bed (for who knows how long). The nursing students have forged reciprocal relationships with the doctors and nurses of Macha, exchanging information, ideas, and encouragement. When the tasks given to them were tedious, our students chipped in. When the tasks felt beyond the scope of experience, they asked questions until they were ready to do the job correctly.
Around 11:00, I piled into the hospital truck along with Kati B., Rachel, and Katie L. for the last Outreach of our visit. It was a tight ride with people and supplies over some very bumpy roads. We watched cattle and chickens cross the road (but why did they?) We went to the village of Nalituba where a large gathering of women and children waited patiently for us. They clearly value the health services offered by the staff, and knew the routine very well. Prenatal care, baby immunizations and HIV testing are all available.
The clinic was set up near a Basic School, and many school children came past to see what was happening. They loved getting their photos taken and even sang a little for a video. Once I get back to the states I hope to be able to post a few of the video clips I have. Here the connection is too slow. I will remember these children and the way they laughed when I tried to imitate a crazy dance move they had demonstrated to me.
Once the clinic work was done, our nurses were free to interact with the kids, and had a good time teaching them a dance (ack! What was the name of it? I can’t remember). It was about 4:00 when we finally got around to eating our lunches. And actually, there were about 10 of us who shared three peanut butter sandwiches, three little bags of crisps and a package of cookies. It was like the feeding of the 5000 except that several were still quite hungry when the food was gone. We picked up an extra passenger on the way home so things were even tighter. But we made it back and our bones felt good to pile out of the truck.
After supper, everyone helped write thank you notes to the various wards and groups who have been so kind to us: male and female wards, maternity, OPD (outpatient), PHC (public health), ART, Theatre, kitchen staff, etc. Wanda brought along small gifts for various people and on Thursday afternoon we will deliver them and say our farewells.
Last Full day at Macha
When Wanda and I got to the dining room this morning at 7 for breakfast there was something that felt very different from most other days. After a few moments I realized what it was. The students were not in their scrubs and instead were wearing their chitanges. Some of them had just rolled out of bed and were still waking up. Nice break from the routine of getting to the hospital by 8 or just a little past. Following a meal of porridge, toast and fruit, we had time to converse around the table and still have more than an hour and a half until we met to load ourselves in to two vehicles to go visit Dr. Lumino, the traditional healer.
We were greeted warmly and led into a little grove in the woods near his home. There were benches made of tree branches and trunks, and a number of stools. He had invited us into what serves as his shrine, the place where he often makes his diagnoses and decides on a course of treatment for his patients.
While his ways and means seem very alien to us in the States, and can be frustrating for medical personal in Zambia, it has become clear to the Zambian government that in order to best serve people, it is important to build communication and relationship between modern practitioners and the traditional healers. Many, many of the patients who end up in hospitals have in the past (distant or recent) been treated by traditional healers and it can be crucial to know what herbs or practices are influencing the patients’ current condition.His diagnoses depend largely on patients’ reporting of symptoms and then consultation with the Spirits who give guidance as to the cause of the symptoms. He treats both physical and mental conditions. There is a national council for traditional healers and they are to be licensed. Dr. Lumino does refer patients who are suffering from anemia or dehydration to the hospital because he is not able to administer IVs. If he determines that a person is HIV positive (never through a blood test) he also refers them to the hospital for