Hello from Zam!
What a whirlwind! We arrived in Mongu March 13th and time is certainly flying by! The students have blown us away in their ability to adapt in the constantly changing circumstances that Africa throws their way! As you can see from their blog entries this week they were very ‘hands on’ and their level of engagement in patient care and advocacy constantly amazes us.
Jess has been very busy mentoring me into the role of clinical instructor here in Zam (we write this blog together). I cannot believe the level of respect her colleagues here have for her- everywhere we go people are excited to see her face. We have been meeting with several Zambian colleagues and I’m so excited about what the future could hold with this partnership. We are working with the Lewanika School of Nursing, Lewanika General Hospital, and a number of community outreach clinics. I had the privilege of spending Friday morning at the Save a Life clinic and we saw more than 30 patients in 3 hours; I am getting quite skilled at HIV and Malaria testing.
I had a first that I will never forget this week. I informed a 26-year-old woman that she was HIV positive. As I heard Lihana (the nurse that runs Save a Life clinic) counsel this woman about her status I felt every hair on my body rise- it was just a moment that I couldn’t quite wrap my Canadian brain around. The women here are strong beyond anything I’ve ever seen, she did not say more than 5 words, but nodded her head several times. She has two children and I instantly had to think about the repercussions – her children need HIV testing, she needs to be seen at the ART clinic, and she is single living in a remote village far from the hospital… How will she manage?
Jess and I spend the days helping out, and checking in on our students on the various wards (not units) they work on! It is full on- I have to stop and remind myself that drinking water is necessary in this + 28 humid weather.
I’ve decided to start a list of things one needs to know before they travel to Zambia in a nursing context: 1) Here you do not start a conversation without asking the person how they are 2) If you are very bathroom shy, do not come to Africa! 3) text messages are SMS’s and they too start with ‘how are you?’ and ‘how is your family?’ 3) Privacy in the hospital is Western world privilege 4) The sunsets and sunrises are worth the trip in itself 5) If you come to Mongu get ready to hear ‘Makuwa’ over and over and over (and over) again – this means white man! 6) The taxi drivers will include a stop to the bank or a visit with their family members on route to your destination 7) A trip to the grocery store takes some needed patience 8) Taping an IV here is called strapping- that has gotten me a few times! 9) The people here want progress, they are hard working and they are making improvements each day- but people always come first- not possessions or meetings 10) And last (for this blog) Construction workers are the same in Africa as they are in Canada- they like to hoot and holler!
That’s it for this week ~ J & J (as our students call us!)