Sunday, April 18, 2010

Another blog post!

Wow! You should all be so proud of me-I am blogging again and it has been less than two weeks! Things are getting progressively busier here-I am consistently spending 3 days a week at the clinic, 2 days at House of Moses, am tutoring 2 afternoons a week, plus church, bible study, meetings, etc. It’s great! I love to be busy and even though the definition of busy means something different here-I like having something to do everyday.

The clinic is changing again-one of the volunteers has left to continue her medical student elective in Denmark before returning home to New Zealand. She was a great volunteer who was smart and fun to hang around with. I am definitely going to miss working with her. And then this week the other volunteer has gone on vacation to South Africa so I am the only volunteer at the clinic until she returns. On the plus side, she is letting me house sit for her while she is on vacation so I have cut my commute short by about 2 hours a day! She lives within walking distance of the clinic in a cute little apartment. The clinic work is continuing to get better all the time-I am getting to know and recognize more of the patients as they come back for repeat visits. I had a lot of fun this morning playing with a little girl whose name was Alice. She is an orphan who is being cared for by an extended family member. Last week she was so sick-her whole body was swollen and covered in a rash and she a really high fever. She could hardly move. In America she would have been quickly admitted to the hospital for treatment but there are limited resources for that here, especially when you go to a free, government run clinic. She was given massive amounts of medication and when she came in this morning for a follow up visit she was back to her normal smiling self. The rash and swelling were still present but they had improved so much over the previous week. She spent half of our visit playing with my hair and kissing my hand-it was cute and rewarding to see the improvement in her condition.

Yesterday I got to take a 13 year old to the eye doctor for a follow up visit. Zelia has had HIV her entire life and when she was younger her treatment was not managed properly and she got very sick. One of the illnesses she had was an eye infection that was not treated and led to blindness in her right eye. The eye has a cloudy appearance to it and looks different than her other, normal eye. Last year one of the other former volunteers from the clinic arranged for her to be seen by an American eye doctor and they arranged for Zelia to receive a contact that would cover the cloudy area over her pupil. Unfortunately the other volunteer left before the contact arrived, and the orphaned girl did not return to the clinic for the contact. The American doctor is leaving Zambia for another country and contacted my clinic to see if we could bring her in before he left so I volunteered. I got to spend the day with Zelia and one of her caregivers as the doctor showed her how to use her new contact. She was excited to see the difference. Here are some pictures for you to look at.

This Friday, I will be going with another girl from that same orphanage back to the eye doctor so that she can be fitted with a prosthetic eye. Teresa is 8 years old and was abused by her stepmother. When Teresa was 6 years old, her stepmother punished her by “removing” the eye. I am not sure that I want to know the rest of the details but I will be excited to see her receive a new eye and for both girls to be given the chance to feel as normal as possible. I will try to take pictures and post them for you also.

The House of Moses is also undergoing a lot of change-many new caregivers have been hired or switched around between the other houses for the older children as a way to help distribute the skilled caregivers and new caregivers. This means that I miss seeing some of my friends, but I also get to make some new ones. We also have had a husband/wife team arrive this week and they will be here for the next month. So now there are 5 Americans at the orphanage. The next visitor arrives in one week, and then more arrive in May. The home is slowly filling up and will soon be bursting at the seams with visitors. My baby, Matthew, is doing well also-he is walking most of the time now and is putting on a lot of weight. Pretty soon he is going to be a really chubby baby! The other children are also great as well-I just discovered that one of my other favorite babies can walk-although I don’t know how because never moves from wherever we put him. But the other day he just got up and started walking it was so great to see. He is also a very skinny baby so he doesn’t even look like he could be strong enough to stand. We have also taught him how to blow kisses. So when you walk in the room he will put his hand to his mouth and go “bwa!” with a big smile on his face. I will try and get a picture for you also.

Well until next time!


PS-Here is the link to my photo album on facebook I just posted some new photos!

Friday, April 2, 2010

The month of March

Hey All! I can’t believe that it has been so long since I blogged last. Yikes. It’s crazy how time goes by. I have been here now for two months and am still going strong. I have acclimated to the weather, food, people, and even the buses. The hour long bus rides (each way of course) aren’t so bad any more. In fact, it’s a great time to think, pray, people watch and do Sudoku. I have been doing a lot of Sudoku lately and am getting better at it. And many Zambians are used to seeing me on the buses and streets so I am not getting as many people yelling at me as I pass them. In fact, I probably only got called Mzungu 5 times today and maybe only 5 times the previous two days. When I first got here, it wouldn’t be unusual to hear comments that like 10 or 15 times a day.

The clinic has been a bit of a struggle lately-there have been two new people who have started: a new clinical officer (like a physician’s assistant) and a new nurse practitioner. When you add this to the already existing clinical officer and 3 volunteers, it adds up to a lot of people to see just a few patients. Adding to that has been some very slow clinical days and a lot of outreach cancellations. This has led to more downtime than anticipated which isn’t so good for the other volunteers who are only working at the clinic two or three days a week. I am lucky to have the House of Moses to keep me occupied.

Two weeks ago I had the chance to visit Livingstone and Victoria Falls again. I went with one of the other volunteers, Rebecca who is from New Zealand. She is a medical student spending 6 weeks in Zambia trying to get some good clinical experiences before returning home. We took an overnight bus after clinic one day and arrived in Livingstone just before 3 in the morning. We went straight to our hostel and fell fast asleep. The first day we went and did the gorge swing (like bungee jumping except at the bottom of the descent you swing sideways instead of bouncing up and down), saw the falls and then went on a sunset cruise on the Zambezi river. This is something I have done on every trip to the falls (this was my third time) and it’s my favorite thing to do. That evening we had a delicious dinner at the hostel and just relaxed. Saturday morning we had breakfast on Livingstone Island which sits in the middle of the Zambezi River and even got to swim on the edge of the falls. It was quite exhilarating and refreshing. That afternoon we went on a game drive and got up close and personal with a solitary male elephant. The rest of the day was spent relaxing, swimming, and eating great Western style food. Sunday we returned to Lusaka on the bus.

In other news, Sandra has arrived from America. Sandra is one of the founders of the orphanage where I stay and she comes every year to manage the teams who visit from America and to implement new projects and such for the orphanage. This time she brought with her a friend. Rebecca is 18 years old and from New Jersey. She will be here for 6 weeks and will be working with some kids from the House of Martha (for the older children) on reading comprehension. So far life has changed a lot in the last week with the new additions to the house, but it has been great to start talking about the changes and new projects that are coming this year.

Well, I hope that you are all well with everyone back home!


Here is the link to some photos that I have posted on facebook. Enjoy!