Saturday, February 6, 2010

One week down!

UPDATE: My internet connection is having problems posting pictures to this blog so look for them on Facebook if we are friends. I will try to post pictures on here as soon as it lets me!

February 5, 2010

I can’t believe that I have been in Zambia 8 days already and gone for 10 days total. The time has flown by this past week and I have managed to keep busy. I last wrote the day I arrived so I will fill in the rest of the details from there. I do apologize because this is likely going to be a lengthy post. You have been warned!

So to start where I left off. Shortly after finishing my last blog, I ended up falling up asleep for the next four hours and waking up just in time for dinner. Thankfully, I still managed to sleep all night long and woke up around 5:30 or 6:00, when the house really starts to come alive. That morning (Friday), Dr. Tim sent his driver to pick me up and take me to the Tiny Tim and Friends clinic downtown. Dr. Tim was seeing clients that morning so he left it up the guys who typically run the clinic to show me around. Justin and Fernando are the social workers, Ntula is the clinical officer (physician’s assistant), and Phridae (pronounced Friday) is the program manager. I don’t think they knew I was coming or what to do with me so after sitting for a couple of hours while they worked, I ended up leaving and catching a taxi back to the House of Moses. The morning was fairly difficult because I am not used to sitting around doing nothing, sort of ignored, while other people work around me. The guys were nice enough, but it didn’t leave the greatest impression on me, and I was kinda worried about what the experience was going to be like. After returning to the House of Moses (HOM), I had a yummy lunch of nshima, and then took another nap and then just read the rest of the day.

Saturday morning, Dr. Tim sent his driver to pick me up and take me to the Farm for an HIV outreach. The Farm is not only the home to Dr. Tim and his adopted son, “Tim”, but also home to 8 or 9 orphaned teenage boys with HIV, and an actual farm that will be used to help supply income to the clinic. The outreach was designed to help bring the kids from the HIV clinic to a place where they could have fun for the day, watching skits and dancing, eating good food, and hanging out with other kids like them. It was also a day where the clinic could reinforce consistent medication administration, talk about psychosocial issues and do some risk reduction education. It was a long and busy day but it was also nice to get out and see another side of the organization. It was also a good day because I had the chance to talk to Justin and Fernando and get to know them a little more. Here are some pictures from the outreach of the skits and dancing. 

Upon returning the HOM I was able to connect with some missionaries who live nearby and received an invitation to church from them. So the next morning I was picked up by Tracy Murray and 3 of her children and we drove the short distance to the Baptist church. I went to a bible study before the service and had a good discussion about fasting. The church service was great also and afterwards I walked home getting lost along the way. The rest of the afternoon was spent reading and relaxing.

Monday morning I met with Irene, the head nurse from the HOM and we had a good, long discussion about the work that I am going to be doing here. I also had the chance to ask lots of questions about how things are done and to look at the records they keep of the children. I tried to learn as much as I could about the organization so that I could then figure out where their needs were and how I could have an impact on them. I spent the rest of the day talking off and on with Irene, hanging out in the nurseries, and researching child development etc. Most of the day was rainy and gray, just like Seattle, so I wasn’t feeling homesick at all!

On Tuesday morning one of the teenagers from the Farm had offered to meet me at the HOM to show me how to use the bus system but it was pouring rain that morning, so Dr. Tim sent his driver to pick me up and after making a few stops we made our way to clinic. The drive in to town was good because I was given the opportunity to ask Dr. Tim lost of questions about how he got to Zambia and get a better idea of what his organization does. We also picked up two of the other new volunteers, Anna and Brook. After arriving at the clinic, we had a meeting with all of the staff and the volunteers about the clinic and then had the chance to relax in the office, learning about their charting and filing system (which is quite the disaster!), and then in the afternoon I worked with Ntula seeing patients.

The next day, I was picked up by Dr. Tim’s driver again and driven to the clinic where the staff of TT&F was preparing to go out on an outreach. This outreach was different than the one on Saturday because it involved the staff and volunteers going out to a predetermined location (school, daycare, orphanage) and testing anyone who signed a consent form for HIV and then doing posttest counseling. These outreaches typically have a 10% HIV positive return and these people are then referred to Tiny Tim and Friends for more conclusive testing. The test kits in the field have a high false positive potential, so another more accurate test is always done at the clinic. Most of the people tested are children. On this particular day we tested 90 people with 8 positive results. The posttest counseling was done by Justin and Fernando who counseled the negative people on risk reduction and prevention strategies and then referred the positive people to clinic. I have included a picture of the compound where we were doing the testing. The rains continued all day Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Felt just like home and there were even some moments when I was a little chilly!

That evening, I walked over to the Murray’s house for a cell meeting (bible study). Afterwards I had the chance to talk with Tracy and her husband, Mike, as well as 5 of their children (they have 8 total, but 3 of them are in the states). They are a fun family and have a huge library of books that I was able to borrow from to supplement my own meager supply.

Thursday was spent at the clinic again and I arrived there earlier than I needed to so that I could read about pediatric HIV treatment. Phridae was quite unhelpful in locating it for me and wouldn’t let me look for it either, so I ended up sitting for a while doing nothing. Very frustrating! After a while I begged him for anything to read and he managed to find something to help me pass the time (and to get me out his hair!). Time passed slowly, but eventually patients started to arrive and I was able to start seeing them. The Zambian system for health care is very interesting because the Tiny Tim and Friends “Clinic” is really one office (in an unrelated medical clinic) about 10 feet by 14 feet where the 4 guys work, plus an office assistant and a pharmacist in addition to any volunteers and patients. It is an extremely crowded space and there is no ability to provide privacy or to move. The organization is just too small to provide care for their patients and afford a bigger space. I hope that in the future they will have this very important need met! With my next blog post I am going to post a photo for you all to see just how crowded things are. After finishing at the clinic Ntula offered to show me how to get back to the HOM using the buses. It was easy, and I probably could have done it by myself but it was definitely nice to have a Zambian show me what to do. We ended up stopping at Arcades (the other shopping mall) to go to the grocery store and then continued on.

Today was the first day this week it hasn’t poured rain all day and I actually got to see some sun and blue sky. It might have been short lived, but it was still there. I spent the day at the House of Moses hoping to continuing working on the presentations they want me to do, but the power was out much of the day and even though it’s back on now, I still can’t manage to get on the internet. Instead I spent much of the day in the nurseries or playing with my friends Matthew and Gabriel. Matthew is my chosen boy this time (although I don’t really feel like I chose him, even from the beginning he would come up to me begging to be held). Gabriel is more than 3 years old, a big kid for the House of Moses, but I don’t think they are going to move any more of the children to the Bill and Betty Bryant Nursery until they open up the new house. So in the meantime, he is the oldest and biggest kid here, although he doesn’t talk. He is good at making some sounds, but developmentally he is probably the equivalent of a 12-16 month old American baby. Here are pictures of Matthew and Gabriel. Both of them look super sad in these pictures but they were actually quite content when the pictures were taken.

I am enjoying everything here so much and am so grateful for the opportunity to come here and see things from a different perspective. I continue to feel confident in God’s call to have me here and am excited for what I will get to learn and do.

Here are some prayer requests for this week:
1)     Continued inspiration and direction as I plan some presentations for the staff at the House of Moses. I have about 4 ½ hours worth of time to fill on stimulation, development, hygiene, health, etc. I particularly need help figuring out how to take this information and somehow have an impact on how the caregiver’s work with the children.
2)    Continued prayers for health and safety. I haven’t been sick yet and or felt like I was in an unsafe situation and I pray that I don’t have to deal with either situation.
3)    Prayers that I will continue to develop and form connections with the people here-including the staff at the HOM, the medical clinic, and beyond including both Zambians and non-Zambians.
Well, that’s the main gist of it for now. For those of you who have continued reading this far, BRAVO! That was a lot to read and I appreciate the time it took you to get here. Here are some of my discoveries for this week:

1)     The police in Zambia actually own a hybrid Honda Civic…wonder how much that cost!
2)    The supermarkets have sanitizing wipes to clean off your shopping cart. Such a Western thing!
3)    Using the bus system in Zambia is easier than I thought, yeah!
4)    I have learned how to say “I want a lot of nshima today” in Nyanja. It goes like this: “Nifuna nsima yambili lelo”
5)    There is a frog living in the bathroom where I shower.
6)    The washers at the HOM do not wash well and the dryers do not dry well. Hmmmm….Maybe I should be hand washing my clothes and hanging them to do dry on the line?

In God’s Great Grace and with prayers to you all for a great week ahead!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Melissa. It sounds like you are having a interesting start to your work. I thought moving to a new town was hard. Moving to a new country and getting in settled in is really difficult! It just takes time so hang in there and everything will be smooth for you after a while. I feel so sorry for the teenagers with HIV. I hope they never get aids. Well I am doing schoolwork so I better go. I am think about your journey and enjoy so much your diary and the picteures you send. Thank you.
    Your friend,