Sorry we didn’t post yesterday, occasionally our power/internet gets shut off, so we didn’t have any Wi-Fi to work with, but the day was still great! We had a formal introduction in the morning with Sjeel (one of our managers), for medical activities we will be working on while here. Tomorrow will be our first day out in the villages! So, we still haven’t seen any patients, but we have learned about most of the things we will be doing/treating while here. From what it sounds like, we are going to be able to do just about everything I was hoping we’d be able to do. We will be dressing wounds, passing out over-the-counter medications to people who need them, telling people to visit the clinics (when necessary), taking vitals, assisting in the clinics with vitals and baby weighing, and we will be giving health presentations on important health topics pertinent to Zambia. Overall, I am very excited.
From what I can tell, the major medical issues in Zambia spark from very limited medical care and limited understanding of medical issues. There is one doctor for every 14,000 people. Although work in the clinics is totally free, the people must pay for all the equipment, bandages, shots, and other medical disposables they will be treated with. Because they can be expensive, not many people get the care they need. There is still a MAJOR negative stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS as well. This is a real issue, because 1 in 4 people are positive for the disease, but never get tested for it. Therefore, it spreads rampantly. Additionally, to heat things up, the people have small stoves they put charcoals in and when the charcoals are heated, they will use them to cook, boil water, etc. These stoves are often outside in the open, so small children tend to fall victim to nasty burns that become open wounds. These wounds, along with countless other forms of wounds, will be our primary focus when we are out on our Home Based Care visits. Keeping these wounds from getting infected is essential and when not properly addressed, can even result in death because of living conditions. Anyway, we are very excited to be assisting people in their work and look forward to learning a lot!
The rest of the day was really fun. We got to participate in our very first project! Elle and I were sent to different locations, but it was really nice to hear about the different things going on at other projects. My group participated in the adult literacy project. Here, adults who never had the opportunity to learn to read, write and speak English are taught. It costs them nothing, and is a great resource for women, because English it opens a lot more opportunities for a better life. There were only three students there today, but it was still a great experience. We taught them about giving directions when traveling and read some books with them. Later that night, we had a game night with all the other volunteers. We played spoons. I won, of course. It was lots of fun getting to know the other volunteers better, and just kicking back and relaxing a bit.