Okay, okay...so I MAY have been putting off posting on this blog...I've never been much of a "blogger"...I feel so exposed, ha ha! All right, well here goes nothing...
As our plane began its decent into Lusaka it all finally began to feel real. Up until that point it seemed like a distant dream, not tangible by any means. Stepping off the plane your senses are immediately bombarded by this foreign climate; the air is thick with humidity, green foliage and palm trees flourish in every direction. It is a stark contrast from the grey, concrete jungle we have just spent a couple days exploring in London.
The first couple days here are relatively sedated. We settled ourselves in at the Cheshire home for disabled children in Lusaka. The nuns have been kind enough to rent out a room for us for only 75, 000 Kwacha a night ($15 CAN). There are kids running around everywhere! They are all so adorable; however, only a couple of them speak English and so there are a lot of hand gestures used! Getting around town has been an adventure, seeing as the cabs we take are just people’s cars which all seem to make rather ominous rattling noises that may or may not indicate engine failure... On that note, my cab was in a fender bender this morning (don’t panic Mom and Dad, I’m fine!). Let’s just say they don’t really partake in the whole exchange of information thing here. Instead, they scream at each other and someone drives away rather quickly.
Speaking of car accidents, Leah and I were at the Sunday market and a mini-bus was side-swiped by another car (which drove away of course). You wouldn’t believe the reaction the pedestrians had! About 30 people ran across the highway to see if they were okay, and the whole market by the road came to a standstill! In Canada I’m certain everyone would continue on about their day, assuming it was someone else’s responsibility. That is the beauty of this country though; there is a sense of connection between the people and when engaging with Zambians there is an undeniable sense of genuine interest in the interaction at hand. It’s so refreshing, seeing that in Canada we have the “stranger danger!” attitude, and, thus, you may be perceived as annoying to most people if you attempt to strike up a conversation with a stranger on the bus, etc.
On Saturday we were invited to the Zambike farm. It’s run by a group of young American men who employ a bunch of local Zambians to help build bikes and ambulance trailers that will later be sold/ donated to various NGO’s/ charities, etc. They have even perfected the art of the bamboo bike frame! Very cool looking! These bikes vastly improve the lives of their recipient, as they offer a low cost means of transportation, and the ambulance trailers allow for a speedy transport to the hospital in an emergency.
I had a super awesome time there! We played some beach volley ball, had a delicious braii (African for bbq), learned some African dance moves, played with some adorable little kiddies, and watched an amazing sunset from the roof-top deck. Life is good.
Our first day at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) was a blur! I’ll paint a picture for you...Imagine a hospital built in the 1960’s, and has only had fresh coats of paint as a means of renovation. We were lucky enough to get the grand tour of the whole place, and let me tell you it is an absolute labyrinth! The Nurses here all wear the traditional starched white dresses and caps, or pressed shirt and pants for the Murses (male nurses- which is apparently more common here). Very professional looking...needless to say I felt a little out of place in my wrinkly blue scrubs!
Shannon and I had the opportunity to spend our three clinical days at the Cancer Center. It is the only one in the country, and is therefore quite busy! We spent a day on the chemotherapy ward, a day in consultation clinics, and finally a day observing the various diagnostic imaging machines (CT, MRI) and also Brachy therapy ( used to deliver localized radiation to the cancerous region...mainly oesophageal and cervical seen here). On that note, there is a ridiculous percentage of patients with advanced cervical cancer here, being that they simply do not have the same screening methods we have back home (get your pap’s ladies!!!). The staff was all so friendly and made such an amazing effort to include us and teach us all they could! It was a great experience, and I cannot believe how much oncology knowledge was packed into three days.
Tomorrow we leave for Mongu! We are all very excited about this as we will be driving through a game park on the 8 hour drive there. Crossing my fingers to see some wildlife (c'monnnn Lyger!!! hahaha). All right folks, I’ve got to skedaddle for now...
Much love from Africa...