Saturday, June 9, 2012

A much needed update!

May 20, 2012

This afternoon I am writing to you from the CIDRZ house, which will be my home for the next six weeks. At that time, I will be moving again, to another place that has yet to be finalized. There are several good things and several bad things about switching locations. Some of the benefits include being closer to work (AND living in a house with someone who has a car and works at the same place I do). So now I have two options of getting to work, both of which are better than the 1 hour + long commute I was doing from the House of Moses. I am now also closer to a lot of other foreigners who are also interning, volunteering, studying etc. and therefore have more community around me. Another benefit is that it is quieter than where I was before and it also has a pool. Some of the drawbacks are that I am no longer around the House of Moses, the babies and the staff who work there. I now also have to make own dinner, which is sad because it means that I won’t be eating nshima and the yummy relishes that accompany it. The new place where I am staying is owned by CIDRZ, and the yearlong interns stay here as part of the program. It has a main house and small cottage. I am staying in the small cottage and have my own room. It is nice to not be in the main house because it is quieter (not so many people coming and going). However, both the cottage and the house are extremely messy-dishes overflowing in the sink, ants crawling in the food, and the garbage rotting in the kitchen. While I am not always the cleanest person, most of my mess is only at the surface-my place is generally not dirty down deep. In the cottage, the bathroom has garbage strewn all over it. The person in the other room of the cottage will be leaving in the next week or two, and assuming that she does nothing to clean the place before leaving, I will be doing a thorough deep clean. I have to walk this fine line of not offending her by cleaning up her mess but also not living in grossness. Another drawback of moving into the intern house is that they have all been here for almost a year now and are not necessarily looking to develop new friendships. Though the four other people living here are friendly, they are going to be leaving Zambia within the next month and are starting to wrap things up before going. What this means, is that I probably won’t become best friends with anyone I live with. However, on the plus side, I have met some other people who are really friendly. Yesterday I went on a cruise on the Kafue River, which is about an hour outside of Lusaka. There were many people on the cruise, who are from a variety of projects and backgrounds. They were fun to hang out with and we ended up eating dinner together after the cruise was over. We went to a really good Italian place (doesn't seem possible does it?) for dinner and I had some yummy homemade pasta. This same group of people (about 10 in total) is also going camping next weekend, and I will probably join them. I have always wanted to go camping in Africa and I am excited to have my first chance to do it.

I am not sure what tomorrow will bring at CIDRZ. If my department is really moving to a new area, I don’t know if I will get much done or figured out. I am hoping to get set up with the internet early in the week so that I can communicate with friends and family, but I am not sure how much longer that will take. I also have been told that the area my department is moving to is actually closer to the side of town I was just on-closer to the House of Moses. However, the buses are less frequent and I may have to use a few buses to get there. Sounds like an exhausting nightmare if you ask me! I am hoping that isn’t true, but I guess I will find out on Monday!

May 23, 2012

So, my department isn’t exactly moving to the new location. Upon further questioning, the new clinic/office is not ready yet and even when it is, only the clinical part of my department is moving to the new location. This was exciting to me, because the new location is going to be hard to get to. However, to make things complicated once again, I am going to be spending half of my time working with the clinical team and half of my time working with the community engagement team. What this means, is that when the clinical team does move to the new location, I may have to get out there anyway. I am hoping that since the clinic opening is already delayed, that these delays will just continue until I leave, so that I won’t have to worry about it. Today, I was in the office the whole day, editing some documents that other team members had written. I finished those by lunch and then had nothing left to do. I am still waiting for the people I will be working with to send me the official description of what I will be doing for them, and until then I can’t really get started. While I am waiting, I have been trying to read up on different child health measures in Zambia (number of children vaccinated, burden of illness, etc.) and have also been trying to research some different ways that behavior change can be measured. It is not very exciting work and I have to say that I really wish I was out doing stuff because I don’t know that I am cut out for a desk job.

May 24, 2012

Today continues with my “independent research”, which really means that I am doing nothing exciting. I still don’t have the project descriptions that I need to get started with my work and the PAED team doesn’t have any other work for me to right now. However, at this point in time, I only have three more hours of my day left and then I can leave! I have tomorrow off because it’s a holiday, African Independence Day or something like that. For the weekend, I will be going camping with a group of people (the same ones I went on the boat cruise with) to Kafue National Park. I am excited for this and will try to take lots of pictures to post online.

June, 2, 2012

Camping last weekend was amazing!! We camped right on the short of this huge lake and were the only ones there. It took us about five hours to get there from Lusaka (not including stops) and about half of it was on bumpy dirt roads that left me and the driver squealing on a regular basis as we hits the bumps. The trick was to go as fast as possible while not wrecking the car. We did ok on the way there, however, I am sad to say that car didn’t do so well on the way back. The screw holding the window in place had fallen out, so the window was taped up (using some of my leftover medical tape) and then the exhaust pipe broke off just before the muffler and we had to rig it up just to keep it from dragging on the ground. By the time we made it to Lusaka there was also a noticeable rattle from the front wheel too. Oops! Other highlights of the weekend included going to an elephant orphanage and a soccer game in one of the local villages. On the way to the orphanage we had to drive through the national park (filled with lions, cheetahs, and elephants, etc.) and managed to come up on a group of elephants resting in the grass. They must have gotten annoyed that we were watching them because they got up and moved to the woods on the other side of the road and passed right in front of us. It was such an interesting experience being in the middle of the wilderness with no protection without a guide. Once at the orphanage we got learn a lot about who the five elephants are, how they are raised, and what will happen to them in the future. They ranged in age from 2-7 years and the orphanage was last step before they were reintroduced into the wild.

After the orphanage, we stopped in a village called Ngoma to watch a soccer (football) game between a Lusaka based team of expats and the local Ngoma football team. It was a random event out in the middle of nowhere but it was still a lot of fun. I found the village children to be particularly amusing and spent most of time playing with them instead of what the game. They even managed to braid my hair as you can see from this picture.
The rest of the camping trip was nice with the exception of our early morning game drive the next day. Waking up before six and sitting in the back of an open Land Rover for four hours while it was only 40 degrees out was not a lot of fun. It was even less fun to see less animals on the four hour trip than we had seen the previous day for free on our way to the orphanage. The best part though was when we saw some zebras and another deer-like animal grazing together. The driver of the vehicle stopped to let us get some pictures and felt the need to mention to use that the zebras were the striped ones. It was a great addition to a bad game drive.

Since that time I have been busy working for CIDRZ on the two projects that I have been given and working with another group at CIDRZ on a survey they were compiling. In the evenings I have gone to ultimate Frisbee a couple times, gone out to dinner a lot (I am discovering a lot of good restaurants in town) and been learning to drive. One of the people I met here is leaving Zambia for six weeks and has graciously let me use her car while I am gone. It’s going to be an amazing experience in freedom that I haven’t known in Zambia before. I have also had the chance to meet up with a friend from school who will be in Zambia for the summer too.

Overall, this trip has been great and I am really enjoying the people that I am spending time with. I am hoping to get back out to the orphanage sometime soon because I haven’t been there in more than two weeks and I miss the babies and the staff there.

The big challenge coming up for me is my work permit. I was supposed to start the work permit when I got here, but I forgot my diploma at home and I have had to order a new one. I am supposed to report to immigration by next Thursday at the latest, and I have nothing to show yet. I am afraid they are going to yell at me and make me go through extra hoops or pay some big fine. I guess we will have to see!

Getting my hair braided in Ngoma

The finished product:

Our camp site on Lake Itezhi Itezhi

Evening boat cruise on the lake:

New friends!

I love elephant smiles!

Baby elephants1

Children from the village:

Sunset over the lake:

An authentic braii (barbecue) at my house with about 10 kinds of meat grilling.