Saturday, March 19, 2016

Paving Pathways Smile by Smile

Wow did that week ever fly by. Where to start. Pediatrics in Zambia is like nothing I've ever seen before. In Canada I found pediatrics included a lot of mental health and new diagnoses such as diabetes. Here however pediatrics is extremely acute (Jasmine). Each day during rounds we'd see children have complication after complication. For example a HIV positive patient ended up getting TB as a complication of the low immunity he had resulting from his illness and then was diagnosed with a pleural effusion as a complication of the TB. This child, these children were very sick. This was very eye opening to us and really made us take a step back at first and ground ourselves in order to be the best we could be for these children in whatever way we could be. By comforting or advocating. We wore many hats. One of the amazing and rewarding projects we were able to work on during this week was play therapy. The children were very shy at first but we were able to get them to paint and draw the first day. We ended up leaving some of the kids with pencil crayons and paper when we left so that they could keep drawing. We kind of assumed that we probably wouldn't see these pencil crayons again as they are rarely found here. However when I walked in the next morning the little boy was waiting for me. He was holding his pictures up smiling and handed me the pencil crayons (Jasmine). He was so proud and it was such a moving and memorable moment. The next day we made paper bag puppets. The kids loved this and moms, dads and grandmas would make them for the children that were too sick or too young. The last day I (Jasmine) walked into the unit and moms were calling me over saying "sister" "sister" asking if they could get supplies for a puppet for their child. The children slowly warmed up to us (as at the beginning some would scream and cry when they saw us saying ("makuwa") and by the time they got discharged they'd be looking around to give a hug and say goodbye. Those were the warmest and most meaningful hugs. Overall we have learned that the children here are the strongest we have seen. Even when they are so sick and acute and may not make it through the week they still smile and are relatively happy. We will never forget the things we saw, heard and felt this week.

In terms of staff and supplies available at lewanika we were quite shocked. The lack of documentation and general distinction between Canadian and Zambian nursing responsibilities were hard to get used to. I'm used to conversations with doctors in Canada where a diagnosis is reached together. Here the doctor primarily performs assessments and a nurse takes orders. It reminds me of older forms of Canadian nursing. (Kyle)
Also, I (Kyle) became more and more grateful of the abundant supplies available to us on wards in Canada. It was an effort to even obtain printed documents. I know that this is only a reflection of the economic climate of Mongu and will become better over time. It's interesting to hear Jessica's perspective regarding the changes that have occurred over the last 8 years. Things seem to be changing for the better in increments and I'm reminded of a common local saying: "everything happens in Mongu slowly"

By Jasmine and Kyle

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