Feeling a Bit Disconnected

The Wifi was down for most of yesterday and this morning, so we weren’t able to update our blog journals. It was an interesting experience being in a place where this regularly happens, and then comparing the reactions to no Wifi of the locals and the volunteers that come from cities and countries where Wifi is pretty continuous. Needless to say, it was pretty hilarious to see everyone nose deep in their phones once the Wifi came back on again. Anyway, here is the journal entry from yesterday, enjoy!

Today marked the official start of our internship here in Zambia. Sleeping last night was rough as my body attempted to adjust to sleeping at what would normally be considered the middle of the day if I were back in the States. However, the exhaustion from the long travel hours meant that I still slept pretty soundly, so when the wake up bell rang at 6:00 am, it wasn’t too jarring. That being said, I still felt exhausted as I awoke to start the day; hopefully that will dissipate as I acclimate to the new schedule.
This morning, the BYU students involved in the Home Based Care (HBC) internship had an induction meeting to our duties and responsibilities in the community as we go about our internship. This was led by one of the program directors, Sjeel, and afterwards we practiced doing manual blood pressure checks on each other. The most interesting thing that I learned during the induction was that Zambia’s healthcare system, one fo the poorest in the world, has a staggering 14,000 people for every 1 doctor! Because of this and the lack of adequate funding for hospitals and clinics, a good majority of patient care is referred to HBC volunteers who then refer patients to the clinic if they think a visit is warranted. The disparity between the healthcare available in the United States and the healthcare available in Zambia was not lost on me.
After the induction meeting, we had some free time in which the other HBC interns and myself went to the Shoprite grocery store to exchange money for Kwacha (the currency here) and get some groceries like gluten free cereal and lotion. I was surprised at how comforting it was to see that some of the foods I know and love from the USA are also available here if I ever get homesick and need just a taste of home.
After lunch, Braydan and I headed out to separate community projects, he to Adult Literacy Club and myself to Reading Club. This was so much fun! We were working with kids on holiday from school in the Linda community, and these kids were absolute gems. We were accompanied by Behmi for driving and translation purposes, which was super helpful in getting the children to understand and follow instructions for the different activities we did. For learning activities, we played a get to know you game where the children introduced themselves and said and animal that started with the first letter of their name. We discovered that there are very few animals that start with the letter N—interesting, no? Afterwards, we played a ball toss game, sang the ABCs, which was to a very different tune than I was used to, but the kids knew it so it wasn’t too hard to follow. The focus of all of our activities was to help the children with their letter recognition and reading skills since children here start being taught entirely in English during the fourth grade, so any bit that they learn and understand beforehand is really helpful for them.
These kids were so sweet and I truly cannot wait to go back. During the 15 minute break that they had to get their wiggles out, a group of girls of all ages from three to ten flocked around me and we practiced naming different body parts, and then I taught them some Spanish facial words as well as the Machareña. One of the girls absolutely loved this and kept asking if I would come back later so we could do it again! After the break, we worked in small groups to help the kids with their reading skills. This was actually kind of sad. I remember being ten years old and loving chapter books and reading all the time. Because of the poor circumstances of these children though, including the fact that their parents have to pay for them to go to school, which is often not an option, they are exceptionally limited in their reading abilities. From this I definitely gained a greater appreciation for the education I was able to receive and for essentially free to me and my family, too.
After Reading Club, we had a meeting with Sitali (a worker for Livingstone Backpackers) to discuss some of the activities we can participate in outside of the compound while we are here. Then, it was nap time! After napping for a spell, we headed out to chit chat a bit with some of the other students and coordinators, ate dinner, and then played some intense group games! I enjoyed this quite a lot because it was an easy way to get to know some more people in the group and unwind after a long day with some hearty laughter.
Overall, I would count today as a success, and I’m excited to see what will happen tomorrow as we venture out into the communities to do actual HBC work. Now to go shower and sleep before the mosquitos eat me alive (yes, I am wearing bug repellent, but they still like to fly at my eyeballs for some reason). Until tomorrow, ¡Adios!

-Gabrielle Bezzant

Author: Gabrielle Bezzant

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