4 weeks in Zambia. I cannot believe it has been that long already. When we first arrived it seemed like the trip would last forever. Our first tour of the hospital, first trip to shoprite, first minibus ride- it just felt like it was a taste of what was yet to come, that there was so much more time left. But now we only have a short time left in Mongu, a place that we have learned to call home. Over these past few weeks we have experienced and learned so much more beyond those "firsts". The best day to go to shoprite is Wednesday at approximately 1530 hours because that is when all the new stock gets put out. Minibuses in Zambia can seat 20 plus a chicken, not just 12. You can count on hearing "Makua" (white person) at least 20 times as soon as you step out onto the street. And we have learned that Zambians are very passionate about their football, enough to turn the power back on 2 hours early so that everyone can watch the game, even on an evening when thunder/lightening and a downpour threaten to turn the power back off again.
The hospital is more than our initial thoughts as well. At first sight you notice the filth, the lack of supplies, people on the floor, and the heat. But perhaps this is because the hospital is not staffed with around-the-clock housekeepers, or enough nurses to care for the 42-patient wards. Also, the hospital lacks the new equipment that we have in Canada but the nurses are not trained to use it. They make good use of what they do have.
This week I was at a rural health clinic. Compared with the clinic from last week at Mutoya, which is funded by missions organizations and sponsors, this clinic was much different. It is nestled behind a bunch of small shops and trees. There are four small rooms, each used for the clinics that are run throughout the week. It is made of cement and brick, again, very dirty, and lacking things that we take for granted at home. A woman in labour came to the birthing room and after an assessment, the midwife determined it would probably be a couple of hours before the baby would be born. After settling the expecting mom, the midwife left the room. A few minutes later she returned and announced that she was sending the mom to the hospital. When I asked why, she said "there is no water". Where this was a shock to me, the mom calmly stood, despite her large belly and walked painfully out the door. The people in Zambia have learned to live in theses circumstances everyday, whereas we are are trying to adapt to them and understand.
So far there has been a lot of learning. After 4 weeks our knowlege of Mongu and Africa has been greatly enhanced, but there are still some things that will be hard to fully understand.