Fay with a future Zambian nurse/doctor (Tinky)
I have meant to write for some time, but organizing this experience has a way of taking time and patience. So...I begin with snapshots experienced throughout the last two weeks.
1. Thump of landing, doors open, and yes...the smell of rain, grass, some unidentified, exotic flower, added hints of decay, and warm air caresses us. We are here, Zambia welcomes with the unmistakable, smell of Africa.
2. Wide eyes, white faces, peering from behind carts filled with huge bags; the students arrive through immigration. One by one they see me as I wave and yell: welcome to Zambia, you made it! Smiles, relief, as we reunite and load the massive luggage on our friend Benji's flat bed truck.
Benji, Jessica and Fay on the way to pick up all the students from the airport
3. The bus depot in Lusaka: guys yelling, bags stacking up, music at top volume ( is that Kenny Rodgers?), smell of sweat, heat, cooking, garbage and diesel. And it is only 0730! Looking back on 24 students on the bus with ipods in, snacks out, yes we are on the way to Mongu. As we go through the park I hear: I think that is a wart hog? Wow, was that a monkey? Yes my dear ones, we are not in Kansas anymore!
4. The hospital tour: big eyes, tearful eyes, shock and some what am I doing here eyes. To me it feels like old home week...old friends and colleagues, smiles, hugs and handshakes. My eyes see trying and improvement; their eyes see where is my place, what can I do, how can this be?
5. Flashing smiles, wide eyed stares from small babies, crowding on the mini bus...handing children around like baggage as we crowd closer, the smell of perfume, powder and sweat as we stick to each other and bounce our way to work. Women with babes on their back, tomatoes, a chicken and some muffins accompany us on our way to work. No one complains and all have time to wish us good day.
6. Your loved ones, our students, interacting, comforting, showing strength, advocating, crying and coming back for more. Teaching, sharing knowledge, struggling to understand, gracious, loving to each other, supporting! All of you who had apart of their growing up should be so proud...they are wonderful nurses and ambassadors for our profession and our country.
7. Laughter, Mosi ( LOCAL BEER), talk of bugs, where they are, who has seen the biggest, and how we react to them...some intrepid ones are the protectors, some of us the scurriers and the screamers!
AND SO IT GOES, Africa takes us to her earth and teaches us. I thank my young colleagues, Jess Barker, Jess L. and Alex for being my support and strength, and I send love to all my friends, special kisses for Ally and Aasha and Jo.
Happy Trails, Fay Karp