Saturday, February 6, 2010
We titled this entry Makuwa because we hear it about 500 times a day. It means ‘white person’ in the Losi language and everywhere we go people shout it out…it is hilarious! We have safely arrived in Mongu. The 8 hour bus ride was what we expected. Along the way we saw elephants, wild boars, antelope, and Mary is 80% sure she saw a Rhino but the bus was moving to fast to be sure and Fay is convinced it was a unicorn…haha. We have now settled nicely into our lovely new home at the Cheshire guest house. It is beautiful. We are fortunate enough to have our own kitchen area to cook in. Kirsten, Jamie and Lindsey C made Chilli for our first meal! We all share a room with 1 or 2 other people, and each room is even equipped with it’s own bathroom – we feel so thankful for the living accommodations we have been provided with.
Yesterday we picked up our bikes from the bus station and rode them all through town back to our place. The bikes are called Zambikes and they were made just outside of Lusaka by a good friend of Jessica’s. Zambikes moto is ‘building bikes for change’ and they are committed to making this company a sustainable one for Zambians. We purchased the bikes with the money we fundraised over the last few years. They will be our major source of transportation while we are here and when we leave we plan to donate them to locals in the community. As if 12 Makuwa’s weren’t bright enough to draw attention in this small town, the bikes are florescent yellow and are always accompanied by a trail of African children running behind us.
We had a tour of the hospital where we will be spending most of our time working over the next 5 weeks. The experience was very eye opening once again. The conditions are much less then ideal, the staff to patient ratio is about 2 nurses to 40 patients, and sometimes they run with only 1 nurse. Despite the conditions, the hospital director along with all the staff and students were extremely welcoming and so pleased to have us there. We went to the lecture room where the students were being taught, and the way in which we were welcomed brought tears to our eyes. Every single person shook each of our hands and said “you are welcome.” Among all of us there is a very overwhelming feeling. We are nervous and scared to work in such a challenging environment but the support we have already been shown is very reassuring. By talking with the nurses here we have come to realize that we both share a desire to learn from each other and share our knowledge. We start on Monday at the hospital and we will keep you posted on how it is going!
Among health care challenges we are coming across others as well. Here are some to name a few: we are washing clothing by hands which takes a very long time, especially because it is rainy season and very humid, therefore nothing will dry, we are lacking coffee which is a nurses lifeline, we share our corridors with some very strange creatures – frogs, cockroaches, very large spiders, geckos, all sorts of crazy flying insects, but surprisingly and thankfully very few mosquitoes. All in all we have come to learn to cohabitate with the local flora and fauna.
Last night we sampled the local restaurant and pub/dance floor/night club. It was fantastic. One of the highlights was definitely the 6000 Kwatcha (local currency) Mosi AKA $1.25 beer. The food was great, so far we have had lots of western type foods, however last night we branched out (thanks to Lindsay Redl) and tried some Nsheima. It is basically a ground maise made into dumplings and you dip it into various sauces, last night it was a spinach concoction with small nuts in it. We then headed over to the dance floor, and perhaps we will just say that was quite the experience in itself. Our Makuwa moves were not warmly received at the Oasis dance club – apparently Canadians can’t dance. Needless to say we were given lessons!
On a sad note, one of our nurses has had to go back home due to a family emergency. We want her to know that we are thinking of her and are sending her and her family all of our love and support. We miss you B.C. and are thinking of you often.
That’s all for now, we hope this finds you all well. We will be in touch!