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Published: June 11th 2016
Coming up on four weeks since I have left and I have learnt very recently a great phrase-TIA or rather, This is Africa. This little phrase is used to explain everything from the beauty in this country, to why the power randomly goes out, the HUGE bugs we see here, and anything else that the locals see fit. It has been a great point for some of us Canadians to learn to let go of what may be bothering us in that moment or to make light of a situation. I caught myself using it quite a bit this week while doing my rotation in the maternity ward here at the Rugazi Health Center IV. Which has been quite an adventure!
The week started out great and use muzungu pushed our way into the hearts of the maternity nurses who were not the happiest campers to see us working in their ward. It also helps that the midwife's 5 month old baby girl absolutely loves Brooklyn, a nursing student in my three man team. Brooklyn has paved the way for us for sure! I practiced within my scope this week (read: sarcasm) by assisting in the birth of
a tiny baby girl. Now I will say I was not the one to catch the baby or cut the cord. I passed supplies and cleaned up the mom after the whole ordeal. A lot of you back home know my stance on babies and all I will say is I still do not get what is so beautiful about it other than the mom wincing maybe twice during her labour. One birth in a lifetime is good enough for me!
I also had a lot of free time on the ward this week as a labour can take a long time! I managed to take some great photos of the health centre and was awarded my first proposal by a medical student here! Sadly, I do not think it will work out but he was very hopeful I had enough money to bring us both back to Canada for September. Oh well, can't win them all. I also used my free time this week to learn more about HIV counseling techniques used here for exposed children. At the Health Center I would say about 50% of the patients I see in a day are HIV positive or highly
suspected to be HIV positive and just awaiting test results. Sadly, a lot of this 50% are children who were exposed at birth due to lack of knowledge, counseling, and just the stigma around HIV that created countless other barriers. A lot of the children I have seen are doing great though with only minor issues like fungus growths, or mildly low iron. I did have one patient last week that was near death due to HIV complications. She had stopped taking her drugs and stopped eating and was wasting away when her parents forced her to come in (she is a little bit older maybe mid 20's tops). After counseling the patient about taking her medications I was able to counsel the parents about what to feed their daughter during this acute phase of the drug as well as after. By Friday last week (so four days later) she was up and walking around unassisted and looked so great! It honestly made me so happy to see her up and moving around. She even awarded me a smile and a wave when she was discharged. I hope to not see her again as that would mean she is doing
Not too much else is going on around here to be honest. It has almost been an entire month with the same group of people and this is a huge struggle for me. I am not feeling the culture shock like some people, I actually enjoy the food, and find our accommodations completely fine (not having a pillow sort of sucks but that is so minor). It is just seeing the same people at home, at social gatherings, and at work that grates on me. To solve this issue three of us when to King Fisher Lodge today and it was just what the doctor ordered! It was a beautiful lodge with an amazing pool, super friendly staff, and cold beverages. Lounging around all day and talking to Carrie and Brooklyn about anything was such a great way to de-stress. So thankful to these girls for keeping me company. The boda boda ride there and home was also great. Love me motorcycle rides through this country. It is such a great way to see more and in a fun way! Oh! We also hiked to the twin crater lakes in the area. So beautiful there!
thing I did this week that was so wonderful was donating some of my clothes to this one lady in the village. She is just so amazing, generous, and just inspirational. She always greets us in such an affectionate way without assuming we are rich (white people are just assumed to be rich here). All of her children are so well-behaved and she makes sure to provide enough food to them when they need it. Last time when we visited her she was talking about providing food and education to her children as best as she could and I noticed that some of their clothes were getting pretty worn out. I brought to her a few pieces of my clothing and she was so grateful! Her oldest daughter was over the moon happy to have some more shirts to wear and brought us cassava and beans as a thank you. I have never had a group of people so happy about getting offered something as simple as clothing. I really hope all of her children are successful, and continue to be the shining, smiling kids that I will always remember.
We are already over half way done here in
Rugazi and I am excited to get some small projects underway this upcoming week to help out the health center after we are gone!
Hope everyone is doing well in Canada! See you in about 10 weeks!
Love from Africa.
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