It’s 9:00 am on Feb 5th and i’m sitting hunched over in Hannah’s bed. Kelsey’s computer is heating my legs and my back is cool from the wind outside our open window. I would climb into my own bed, but the power cord won’t reach 6 rows down to where my single bed is resting. .... Well here goes my first attempt to fit the first portion of our trip into thoughts. Then organized those thoughts into sentences. Needless to say, forgive me for my horrible grammar and one sided opinions!
We arrived in Lusaka and then completed the half hour high way drive in the back of a flat bed truck! As gabby updated everyone last night, we got many interested looks from the local people. I am still unsure if this is because 14 white girls was an unusual sight or if the sight of any fourteen people in the back of a flat bed truck would be unusual. Then of course the truck we are in broke down on the side of the highway and Jess came and quoted our favourite saying TIA (“this is Africa”). Although this was a minor inconvenience the people are resourceful, and quickly the entire front portion of the truck was flipped forward. The driver and some bystanders quickly got on cell phones (everyone has one) and the issue was solved in minutes.
Shortly after, we arrived at Chesshire House in Kabulonga. The catholic sisters run this home for physically disabled children, and have set us all up in one bedroom! All fourteen of us have single beds which are lined up side by side. I think we are all feeling a little like sardines, but we are also haveing tons of fun. Multiple girls have brought up how we feel like we are in summer camp The rest of the day is a blur of playing with children, napping, and getting used to our new setting. Fay graciously treated us for dinner at the Irish Pub where we had dinner, and by the time we were done the conversation at my end of the table was sparse. All of us tired and no longer feeling the need to fill empty spaces with idle chatter.
The first night in our “dorm” was really fun. All of us hung our mosquito nets and dragged the things we needed out of our over stuffed packs. Most girls dragged out their headlamps and I must say we looked like a sexy bunch ;) When the over head lights went out, the room seemed to be swimming with jellyfish, the underbellies of our mosquito nets illuminated with the glow of headlights. It was pretty cool.
Day two we went and toured the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) in Lusaka. This is the largest hospital in all of Zambia and contains the only MRI and CT in the entire country. Our guides were wonderful and shared with us details on each of their many departments. What we all assumed would be a short, half hour to fourty five minute tour, turned into a three and a half hours! We were all very grateful for the information, however personally I was a bit overwhelmed, hungry, hot and tired by the end of it.
The woman who showed us the tour of the paediatric wings, informed us before we walked in that “ we do not have the resources that you have in your countries, however we do the best we can with what we have.” This is definitely true, at first the difference in equipment is evident in the extra space they seam to have in the halls, however is even more obvious when faced with the patient to nurse ratio. Aprox 40 patients per nurse in each of the wards, except for the “high cost wards” which were mostly empty.
In the evening we went out for Mexican food and everything tasted amazing. Then all the girls caught taxis back to Cheshire home. I have no idea what the other girls experiences were like in the taxis last night, but Kelsey, Leah, Lynnelle and I had a fun filled ride home. Our taxi driver, Elvis, chatted animatedly with us, and shared his advice on life, Zambia, taxis, and Partying!
“Can I tell you,” he said in his beautiful Zambian accent, “ Life is a challenge. However you know from the pounding in your chest that the heart’s love is important. You must find someone to love to share the challenges of life”. I was sold! From now on we will be calling him everytime we need a taxi. He gave us hints on how to know when you are at increased risk of being pick pocketed, taught us not to get into taxis with two men in the car. And gave us general tips about going dancing! Not that we have been dancing, but you never know He finished his speech by telling us that “he must tell us, or we won’t know, but now we have a choice to follow his advice or not.” Really we don’t have much of a choice, you have to be safe, and so we are grateful for his words.
Today we are all going to the Farm where the Zambike guys live. We have been challenged to a game of Volleyball and our more talented women are ready to rock the court... or whatever you call it! Anyways, this has gotten extremely long.... thank you for taking the time to share in our stories and read what we write. There will be many more stories when we get home.
Loving it here, missing those I love.
~ Jess (L)