kwenye shida na raha – In the good or bad life

Okay here are a few more stories from the hospital i forgot to mention and i can’t do that!

A man came in unconcious and was carried from 15 minutes away to the hospital. He’d fallen out of a tree while picking avocados and landed on his head. In morning report in the chapel the head doctor asked us what disease we though he had…. somedays i just want to shake this man severly and ask him where the hell he learned to be a doctor…i politely said well i dont think he had a disease, i think it was the whole falling on his head that caused the problem and said that it was either due to a spinal fracture or the landing on his head caused inter cranial bleeding and that plus lack of oxygen to the brain, would have caused him to be unconcious but also be able to live for a few more hours….but the doctor told me very sternly that a disease had caused this because no one falls out of a tree- he said he though he had a mental disorder….

…yeah just needed to share that with y’all

A patient came in screaming and really aggressive, beating on the men pulling her and tightly gripping any pole she could find in order to not be taken into the ward…. mind you this was a woman over 60 years old but boy did she have a lot of kick left in her. She was screaming the whole way down the path and not words that you normally heard said here like “Toka” which means piss off and you just dont say that here or anything else that isn’t peaceful. When they finally got her in the ward, we put her in a bed as she was lashing out at us and then held her down, the doctor came in and just put her out….and a few hours later when she woke up and started fighting other patients in the ward, he put her out again….this happened multiple times during the day and throughout the night, kind of funny…thios woman had cerebral malaria…or so they said, but the crazyiest part about this whole situation was that she’d been getting treatment and improving, but 3 months ago she went to church and the priest told her she didnt need to continue in her treatment because she was already cured and he knew that Jesus power had cured her…so she stopped. In morning chapel the doctor said that yes Jesus can heal but sometimes it doesnt work…he thought the same thing the priest did

An 8 year old came  in with what all of us thought was clearly TB, but the doctor refused to listen to any of us and said that the boy had malaria and put him on anti-malarias (which can severly lower your immune system more if taken for the incorrect use. Three days later (even after the boys blood test showed positive for TB, the doctor still wouldnt change his diagnosis) but the TB began to spread to the little boys brain and his CD4 count lowered below 20. Doctor wouldnt switch the medication. That same say the boy begain to seize and after we took care of the little boy and told the doctor, he said Oh he’s just yawning…i really just wanted to full out brawl with this guy (dont worrryyy mom i didnt), but this is a little boys life and because he was being stubborn he was basically killing him. After 5 days, another doctor that we told the situation to put the little boy on TB medicine, but i left the hospital before i could know the whole outcome!

 

Wednesday 7-22

Woke up this morning to the sound of pouring rain (really going to miss that) and so much for my clothes being dry today! We went to morning chapel, sung hymns in KiSwahili and then gave an HIV prevention speech to the whole hospital staff, which we followed with  a condom demonstration. Even though this was given to a grown medical ‘professional’ staff, they all acted like 10 year old kids who couldnt not contain their laughter. I really couln’t believe it, and they didnt even try and settle down, even after Tanya said that this was a serious matter. I mean they had asked us to do this presentation, it wasnt like we voluntarily chose to do it on our own, you would at least think that they would give us a little respect if they wanted us to do this. How can we expect them to teach their patients this and proper prevention measures, if they cant even be serious themselves. The worst person was the head doctor who was questioning everything that we said and contradicting thing with false facts. He was a very schovinistic in his comments about using condoms, saying that wman should always have to put them on the male and take them off so they male doesnt have to worry about any transmission of diseases or fluids since they were the ones that did the woman a favor by wearing one…along with many more asshole comments. I really dont like this man and this mornings lessons made me just dislike him more.

After this we listened to morning report and then  i went home to meet with a witchdoctor that agreed to come up and meet with me to show me his medications and treatments. this man was very old, and skiing, alos quite possibly one of the darkest Tanzanians ive ever met. Kind of a creepy old man, but he smiled at me with his toothless mouth and told me i was welcome to ask any questions, which I was told through Baba’s friend that acted as my translator. The witch doctor showed me  all the powderes, ointments, branches, bark, seeds, stones, charms, and more that he used for healing and treating individuals. He also showed me blessings and things he would say over medications or individuals. Definitely reminded me of where i was living and the differnt belief system as he told me how to ban evil spirits and curses placed upon people that come to him, but it was all very interesting to say the least. After over an hour of talking with this 77 year old witch doctor i headed back to the hospital for a few more hours of work. At lunch timei headed over to the dala stop to meet with Christine, who was heading up to Nkoraranga to spend the night with Lucy and I. When she got up i gave her a short tour and then we went to my homestay to hang out for a little while. We went to the only local bar up on this mountain back in the woods and bought a few beers for 1,000 shillings each…mind you this isnt even an american dollar and these beers are twice the size of the ones at home in bottles!! Went back to the house and watched a movie and drank beers before dinner while chatting and reminising about our stays here. For dinner we had chapati again…so delicious. I’m really not kidding when i say that i have not lost any weight here and its due to their starchy, oil coverd foods haha. After dinner out Baba asked Lucy and I to wait before headed to be. Then out Mama brought out kangas, 2 for each of us and wrapped them around us African style and told us they were gifts of their love for us and how a symbol of how much they’ll miss us being in their home for they truly thought of us as daughters :((((( I’m really going to miss them, they were such an incredible host stay family! After dinner the three of us headed to out bug bed infested beds for sleep…can’t wait to not sleep in a itchy bed!!

Thursday 7-23- Woke up at 6 am to the sound of the house man chapping wood in the pouring rain…Lucy woke up and just said “is he kidding me right now and threw her pillow over her head haha

We all got up for breakfast where out Mama had left out more chapati…holy crap my stomach can’t take any more of that, not to mention my bowels!! I cant wait to have a regular bowel movement when i get home, whenever theat may be, dont know many other people besides the ones on this trip that pray for that. WE headed to morning chapel, sang, and then gave a female condom demonstration. The head doctor again gave us problems with everything we said, but we just kept grinning and answering him bakc. After church, Christine and I walked around the hospital some more and then went to change the bed sheet and wound dressings on patients. Around lunch time, we headed to the dala stand with all my Kili luggage and got in a mini car for a ride down the mountain (it took over 30 minutes for this car to fill up before we could go down the mountain..and we had to make a pit stop on the way down where the driver got a make shift gas can and filled the tank a little.) When we got down to Kilala we hopped on a dala that i’m pretty sure couldnt have gone any slower haha it took us over 40 minutes to get to town, that was a trip that took more than an hour and a half to get to Chrisintes stop haha TIA baby TIA. We dropped my stuff off in her room, went to GSC to drop off the 8 books i’ve read in 4 weeks up at Nkoraranga and then walked to McMoody’s to use the internet. (Speaking of books..everyone had to read They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky …quite possibly one of the best books i’ve ever been, so truthful and powerful it can really make you cry.incredible story about the lost boys from Sudan)

When we got to McMoodys only 2 of the 5 computers had working internet at the time and one was in use, so i let Christine hop on the internet, while i read my book and waited til she was finished to just send a message out and then we went to a t-shirt shop, got my Dad a gift and then began to make the long journey to Mama Linda’s to pick up Chrisintes puses then walked to her house where i caught a dala back to home. When i got home i typed up a few more essays on Lucy’s computers for my professors and then had to go wrise my head in a small bucket…its so itchy haha    So yeah not to gross everyone out, but i havent taken a shower in a weeks and 5 days…same for Lucy…there is not water up on the mountian because of a drought haha If i was at home i might have repulsed myself in not going with a shower for that long, but here is dont really care at all to be honest, you do what you got to do, have low standards for everything, and just get through the day only with what you really need…but hopefully i’ll be able to take a shower up at the other volunteers house tomorrow…i really hope haha

The power went off tonight around 6 and didnt turn on until around 9:30 pm and Lucy and I watched ’50 First Dates’ with our host stay family and then headed to bed in our LAST night in beds infested with bug beds!!…that part about the stay here i’m definitely not going to miss

Friday 7-24 – Woke up to the sounds of rain beating off the trees, and large banana leaves again. Its so incredible when it reains here, the whole outdoor environment changes when it rains, fog travels in and hangs low to the ground making it almost impossible to see your feet and everything is covered in mud that is so slick and slippery. We headed to morning chapel and said our goodbyes to the whole staff and thanked them for their hospitality and more then i headee up to the volunteer house for a SHOWER!!!! It was hot or anything, but it was a shower. I’m really not going to know what to do when i get home…to take a shower or not to take a shower… to take a shower in a stream or a bucket or in a real shower… haha  After the shower i headed home and packed all my stuff up and then we waited for Irwin to show up. Around 1 pm Irwin and Daphnie showed up and we went back over to the hospital so Irwin could meet with Dr. Mollel and then we went back to our homestay where our amazing Mama prepared us a Tanzania feast for lunch.We all had lunch together and reminished on all the times we’ve had together and our Baba made jokes about our Swahili and his English and how much we’ve taught him, then sadly began to pack the car. I cant believe the home stay/ my whole program is over I really dsont want to leave now that this day has come, despite certain situations i’ve been in or scary and depressing things i’ve witnessed …this place has truly grown on me and parting with it is something i’m not yet ready for. Right as we were about to leave Baba knocked on my window and while panting from running he handed me a Pnaga, a machete that i wanted to get…such a sweet man, cant beleve he remembered something i mentioned 3 weeks ago. The ride down the mountain was so sad i probably could have cried if i lef\t myslef. When we got to GSC i unloaded my luggage and stored it in Irwins office and then did my exit interview with Jennifer. Still cant believ my program is over, i’ve been wanting this last week to go by because i thought i had enough because of bad things that had happened to me, but now that time is up i want to take the whole week back. After my exit interview, i said goodbye to lucy my roommate of 4 weeks and working partner for 9 and scuffed my feet as i walked away from the GSC office. I walked my way to Kondayo where Christines home stay was abouyt 15 minutes from GSC and when i was walking down the skinny dirt path to her home two little kids between the ages of 3-5 ran out at me screaming ‘mzungu, mzungu, mzungu’ and hugged my legs and jumped up and down until i picked them up, they were so cute and they had the largest smiles on their faces while playing with my face and hair. I really love the little kids here, they make you feel like  a celebrity the way they scream for your attention and always run up to either hug you, give you a high-five, or just hold it and walk with you, it makes me feel so happy everyday. I’m really really going to miss Gertrude my 7 month old dada-sister for the last 4 weeks. I’ve grown so used to playing with her and holding her til she fell asleep in the afternoons as she smile and coo’s at me  and clutches my shirt when i try and put her down. Yeah, i’m really going to miss that gorgeous, wide-eyed baby.

When i was almost at Christine’s house, i met up with Kalvin her brother who helped me carry my things to the house. When i arrived there i was greeted by her two siser who came running to me and gave me hugs (they knew me from the many times i’ve visited Christine before) and then they asked me to play futbol with them so i put my stuff inside and came out to play futbol in the gravel and mud with them for about an hour. After that i sat down for chai with Mama Chaulla (whos really a Bebe- grandma and takes care of all her sons children) she is such a sweet old lady. She stand about 1 2/2 feet below me its so funny. Then i watched Tom & Jerry cartoons with Kalvin and the girls for a while then ate dinner and headed to be. Mama Chaulla is seriously one of the sweetest old ladies i’ve ever met..dont worry G-ma M and V you’ll alwasy be the best ones!! Oh yeah before dinner when i was in Christines room i head what sounded like a goat crying but just thought it was the tv or something, when i went out to investigate i found Kalvin sitting on the floor with a baby goat in his lap. The kid has apparently been attacked by 6 wild dogs from around the neighbor hood and had many puncture wounds all over him and a neep gash on his ear.. poor thing!

Saturday 7-25-

This will probably be last last entry until i come back down from my KILI CLIMB!! So excited but i just wanted to wrap the whole living like a local Tanznian for about 10 weeks up with a little thing.

Life here was spectacular, challenging, and such an adventure. I truly enjoyed every minute showereing with dirty river water, pooping in holes in the ground out outdoors between braches, not bathing for weeks, sleeping with bed bugs, witnessing things i’ve really never want to see again, living with local families and being part of their families, eating the local foods..even if they made me sick 80% of the time, acquiring a worm and living with him for almost a week and a half, being able to see the wildlife and beauty of the country and culture of all the tribes. This was by far a truly amazing experience that has given me a whole new perspective on life, family, values, and time.

I’m really going to miss night time here even though it was unsafe to be outside. The night here is never silent there is an orchestra of sounds of creatures that take over the night. The night is animated with the unknow. With the sounds of crackling twigs, bushbabies that sound like a child that is lost in the night, tree frogs, crickets, the music from mosques in the distance, and foot steps that always sound so near. There are millions of species of bugs that flock to the small lights outside of houses, eyes that peer at you from the balckness of the night, dirt that rustles between your toes from the wind, large banana leaves whipping against each other, branches of trees that follow your movement with the wind as if they know where your heading…just the sensation of loasting harmony and unnerving danger is present and its quite possible one of the most intreging this in Africa!

for almost 10 weeks I’ve lived immeresed in one of the most welcoming cultures in the world with people that know how to live of a dollar a day and sometimes even less. People that live in homes made of mud and dirt and with floors of dirt or cement, a culture that is based off the phrases of hakuna matata and omnashida, that have no worries of time and absolutely no schedule. A culture that invites stangers into their homes, lets their kids walk far away from home with themselves…including letting them play with machetes and fire unattended haha… a culture purely based around the power of Jesus, a culture with over 200 languages and tribes, a country that goes through droughts that leave them with no water and dont allow their crops to go. A country that experiences faminie and poverty, but would still help the hungry even if that mean giving what little they had left to the person.  A country filled with parasites and incurable diseases but with the most astounding positive outlook on life. A country that still has all of its beauty and wildlife untouched, and that strongly believe in tradition and family values. A culture that challenged me as a person, and made me more humble and relaxed, a culture thats made me brave beyond my beleifs, a culture that made me crave more and more adventure, and a culture that made me realize what a person really needs in life and what should really matter to someone. I’m grateful for every second spend here and i hope this is not my last journey!

 

Well i’m off to walk around arusha one more time before my departure out to Moshi for my climb up Kilimanjaro tomorrow! Hope all is well at home with everyone, i miss all of you tremendously… or should i say Seja kuona siku nyingi (i miss you all very much)!!

-Melinda

2 Responses to “kwenye shida na raha – In the good or bad life”

  1. Brittany Thomas Says:

    mambo dada,

    Habari yako? Habari za kazi? Good luck on your climb up Kili. I miss you all so much. Your blogs have made me feel like I am still there with you all. I can’t wait to see you and catch up when you get home. Give me a call when you are back and all settled in. I hope you enjoy your first shower…I know I did and I was only without one for three weeks!!!!

    All my love. Kwaheri kwa sasa,

    Britt

  2. Erik Says:

    It’s funny, reading your summary reminds me of all the things I love about that country. No one really knows Africa until they touch it, feel it and see it for themselves. It’s easy for the media of the world to propagate negative information about it because of all the horrible things you listed, i.e, disease, drought, etc. What’s not so easy is to go there and look those people in the eye. As you’ve seen, it can be the most rewarding experience and it makes you think bigger than yourself.

    When I left Europe after 4 months I had a similar feeling. It’s a feeling that is equal parts excitment for going home and sadness for leaving something that will ultimately define your outlook on life and who you are as a person. I actually sat in my hotel room before I left and penned a similar summary to yours. I’m glad you were able to live it up and thoroughly engross yourself in the culture. That takes courage, but it’s the only way to make it worthwhile.

    Good luck on your climb and enjoy the “Roof of Africa”!

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