Ni siku nzuri sana – what a beautiful day!

Tuesday 7-07 continued……….
After the usual rice and vegetables at Green Hut, Christine and I headed to a shop to buy kongas and then headed up to see Mama Linda to drop off our kongas to make bags from. This would be the second time I walked all the way up to Mama Linda’s shop today, so I was really hoping she was there this time. When we finally got there, Mama Linda was there and we left our kongas with her and made an order for purses…I figured these would be a good gift for people at home. I really didn’t feel like walking 40 minutes to Blue Heron, so Christine and I each hoped on a motor bike and had one of the guys drive us.
Here bikes and motor bikes, like daladalas are a huge part of the transportation system. Bikes are at the end of each street and they pick up men and women and ride or drive them to their destination. You can take a bike basically anywhere for 500 shillings and a motor bike for 1000 shillings, either way you’re paying less than a dollar to be transported somewhere. I chose to get a motor bike ride because I had my camping backpack on and was afraid I’d tip over on a bike, especially since on bikes you ride side saddle versus straddling the seat on a motor bike. I was scared at first, mainly because there are no helmets used here let alone any safety device (including car seats….the put the baby up front and tell them to put their hands out in front of them when they’re driving in the car…like that would actually do anything should they crash), but the guy that was driving me was going really fast at first so I asked him to go “pole pole” …slowly slowly haha We made it to Blue Heron in one piece and Christine and I hung out there and wrote papers and read until 4 pm and then we made our way up Impala so I could catch a dala to Kilala and so she could walk home.
On my daladala ride to Kilala I noticed a tons of people throwing objects and running in one general direction…..that’s when the dala stopped and I realized what was going on. A large group of people were beating what I can only assume to be a thief and they were really hitting this guy with their hands and clubs. All the men on the dala jumped off and headed over to help. Luckily I didn’t have to watch this long enough to see the man burned to death because the dala driver didn’t seem to care that much and continued to drive after 5 minutes of watching. This was something I have heard a lot about in my 7 weeks living here, but nothing I thought that I would experience.
When I finally got to Kilala I got in a car to head up the mountain for 500 shillings…they stuffed two people in the front seat and there was 4 of us in the back, 2 boys, one “big” mama and me….there was definitely not enough room for us all but the driver seemed to think so…after all the more people in one ride the more money haha After this ride up the mountain in the car I decided that I’m never getting in one again. The drivers are far crazier than the dala drivers, which was really hard for me to imagine, but given the first hand experience of this ride made any future decision very easy. Luckily I made it up to Nkoraranga. When I got home Lucy had CNN on and was watching the Michael Jackson funeral, so I joined. Our Baba came home and watched with up and when they were showing pictures of him as a kid and seeing all the African Americans come on stage to commemorate his life…our Baba goes “I didn’t know he was black” hahahaha this was quite possibly the funniest thing I’ve ever heard. So then Lucy and I had to explain all the surgeries and chemicals MJ put himself through to help our Baba understand….so funny

-A note on working in the lab on Monday…. I forgot to mention that they didn’t wear any form of protection when handling the blood, urine, or stool samples and they didn’t know how to work an electric microscope. They were using a broken on and a little mirror to catch the reflection of the sun to catch light, but when a man brought in a working microscope they didn’t know how to work it and when they put slides of blood smears on the microscope table with immersion oil, they didn’t use any cover slide and consequently dipped the lens of the scope into the testing specimen, which ultimately contaminated both things…not so effective when testing malaria…or at least I don’t believe it to be.
Oh yeah and when working in the lab drawing blood, sometimes they don’t even look or feel for a vein but just stick this needle in their arm, I mean I may not be the expert in phlebotomy but I know that’s wrong. Also the nurses in the wards do not know how to put in an IV, it takes them anywhere between 2-4 tries in different places because they either put the IV in and miss the vein, but don’t know that until the patients hand swells up, or until the puncture a vein and also don’t figure that out until the patients hand swells up. When I put IVs in …correctly the first time, the nurses look at me as if I’d just performed a miracle and some even asked me how I knew where to put it. I mean I know its different here and all, but I would image that a nurse would know how to properly put in an IV.

Wednesday 7-08 –
Went to work at 8 am and was greeted by a woman in the waiting room bleeding profusely from the nose and partially from the eyes, we gave the woman tons of gauze and went to go find a doctor, but they were all in church…aka they cant be bothered with anything about patients until the service and morning meeting is over. So this poor woman has to wait 20 minutes for a doctor who had he lay back on a bed (basically making her swallow all the blood) and the only thing he didn’t for her was squirt adrenaline on gauze and stick it up her nose and then walked out.
After that little episode, Lucy and I headed out to the mortuary to work for Zachariah. When we got to the mortuary we put on scrub gowns, masks, and surgical gloves with an extra pair over top just in case haha. The mortuary is composed of two rooms; in the first room there is only a cooler to hold the bodies, which isn’t even cool. This has 3 drawers in it and you would think that in each one there would only be 2 bodies, but ohh do these drawers hold soo much more. The whole cooler has been known to hold up to 25 people that are stacked like shoes, head to toe and where there is room between people children are placed…kind of disturbing. A group of 8 men showed up at the mortuary and identified an elderly man from the cooler and we pulled him out and placed him on a stretcher…well I shouldn’t say placed because Zach and his assistant handled him so roughly I thought his head was going to fall off. We carried him in to the second room on a stretcher and placed him on top of a large cement bath that is chest height and has a 5 inch deep pool in it was a faucet at one end and a drain at the other. The only other thing in the room was a shelf that held a brush, face balm, injecting needles, disinfectant, dirty kongas, rags, cotton, and tweezers. We undressed the elderly man and then bathed him while the assistant was dumping small buckets of soapy water all over him. When we were done washing the body, we dried him with the dirty kongas and then dressed him with the clothes that the men had brought for him to wear when he was to be placed in his casket. After dressing the deceased man we stuffed his mouth and nose with cotton, injected some fluid into his cheeks and under his eyes, super-glued his mouth closed, and rubbed balm all over his face to make him seem life like. All during this process, Zach was in the other room, but let all 8 men in the room where Lucy and I were cleaning the body and they were taking pictures and video taping this process, like it was a birth…..don’t really know what I thought about it, but I didn’t think it was really right to be taping this process. The second person that morning was another elderly man but compared to the last man, this one looked like a Holocaust victim, it was slightly disturbing. We performed the same things for this man and then placed him in the coffin the family had brought and sent them on their way. The bodies were still releasing fluid from their mouth and nose and bleeding…wasn’t really expecting that during this experience.
The third person we cleaned and re-dressed was a woman who must have been in her mid twenties who was pregnant and we couldn’t tell if she died before or after delivery, but she had a large vertical scar on the far right side of her abdomen. Cleaning this woman probably wouldn’t have been so disturbing if she hadn’t been wrapped up with an infant that was far premature and again we couldn’t tell if the infant had died in the womb or outside of it. We performed everything as previously mentioned for both the mother and infant and placed them both in the coffin. The coffins here are not like at home, they are very small and made with only enough room to fit the body very snugly…only some are lined with material, but this material is normally only a sheet and under their heads they placed the clothes that they had died in or kongas.
Over all we spent 5 hours in the mortuary working, which in my opinion was a really good experience. The bodies just looked as if they were sleeping and it wasn’t until you touched their frigid skin that is really hits you that they’re dead. At first I was a little put off, but I got semi used to it after the first person.
After working the in the mortuary, we scrubbed ourselves thoroughly clean and then headed to lunch for a quick snacks and coke and then went to work in the lab until 3. At 3 Lucy and I headed home to change and headed down the mountain for some exercise. It took us a little over 2 hours to walk all the way down the mountain to Kilala and back up to Nkoraranga. The walk was so gorgeous…more up than down because on the way up there was a spectacular view of Mt. Meru.
Tonight for dinner we had chapati, beans, and avocados. This is by far my favorite Tanzanian meal…so delicious. If I learn how to cook one meal while I’m here it will be how to make chaipati so I can make it at home for everyone to try.

Thursday 7-09 –
Went to morning meeting at the chapel after the service was over….the whole hospital staff attends chapel and meetings every morning, which last over an hour. During this hour the whole staff is MIA and doesn’t care what’s going on in the wards with the patients until church and the meeting is over….this never ceases to upset me haha. During the meeting this morning the head doctor was giving the whole staff a lesson on strokes. First he tried to tell us that a stroke is a disease. When he was asking his whole staff questions about stroke none of them knew the answers … the nurses could even answer what the ABC’s of resuscitation were…so he asked us. Then the head doctor tried to tell everyone that depo and HIV cause strokes…this is when he got on my nerves because its for this reason that a majority of the people in this country don’t know the correct facts, and this man who is supposed to be a doctor and head of the hospital is feeding them faulty information, which the staff in turn goes and spreads to others. He was telling the staff that oral contraceptives cause strokes. This is when Tanya spoke up and told him this wasn’t true and that is wasn’t true for HIV either and he tried to rebuttal her argument, but she just threw correct information back in his face…I mean this may seem rude, but it had to be done. Between Tanya, Lucy, Deb, and I we have to listen to a lot of this doctors and other doctors’ bullshit on a daily basis, but sometimes enough is enough!
After the morning meeting Lucy and I worked in the lab and then I went to go change the dressings on all the traction patients and the woman with bed sores, which took a little over 2 hours to clean everyone then we headed to lunch. After lunch we worked in a maternity for a little while and then I headed home around 3:30 to do some laundry since I’m 2 pairs of underwear away from running out of clean ones. I had to go to the neighboring house and fill two buckets of water up and bring them back over to our house to wash my clothes.
After washing and hanging my clothes on the clothes line, which is right next to the livestock pen haha I wrote a few papers for school and watched TV by myself since Lucy headed to Arusha to stay with her boyfriend for the weekend.

-Oh yeah… a little note on Tanzanians…they love picking their noses. I’ve meant to mention this so many times before but kept forgetting, but men, woman, and children pick their noses all the time anywhere they please. This included doctors during rounds, during procedures…basically whenever they want like I said it soo sooo gross….and they barely ever wash they’re hands except before eating and I wouldn’t even call this washing because its with cold water and sometimes not even with soap.

Friday 7-10 – Felt awful all last night, I’m convinced I have an amoeba or some other parasite living in me because my stomach has not been normal for 3 days, feel and look really tired and drained today. Maybe ill go to the lab today or tomorrow and check a stool sample but I don’t really trust the results there haha But lets just hope I don’t have anything
Walked up the mountain farther with Deb this morning to her house to get some medicine. When we walked out of the house and looked down the mountain at the hospital it was covered by thick fog and clouds and had turned dark and dismal in appearance, nothing like ive seen before. A slight mist started blowing up the mountain towards us and the farther we walked down to the hospital the more the rain progressed to a heavy down pour. It was truly a sight to see, especially up here on the mountain surrounded by jungle to see the thick beads of water pounding down on all the banana leaves and be completely submerged in fog that’s so thick you cant see in front of you. So beautiful.

Going home to rest until the afternoon since there is no one at the hospital. Patients only come to the hospital on clear, semi-warm days….after all not one really wants to walk in the cold let alone rain here haha So I’m going to go home and take my cloths off the line…so much for drying them oh well I guess. Heading into town at noon with Deb for a normal lunch to see if that helps my stomach any!


2 Responses to “Ni siku nzuri sana – what a beautiful day!”

  1. GM & GP Says:

    Wow another impressive description of the world around you. Is it possible you should be a writer? thought we told you to stay away from the bugs. Have you tried to research your own malady with any medical books that might be handy or on the internet? You should work on coming home healthy. Need to enjoy your last few days there.

    lol GM & GP

  2. Sheila Brady Says:


    I’m a Kiwanian friend of GP and know your gorgeous mother as well.
    Your GP sent me to your blog and I faithfully read about your adventures. I know you’ll make a wonderful doctor. I was worried about my nephew when he was at Johns Hopkins volunteering at their AIDS clinic, while his wife was in the Bronx, pregnant and doing her residency in another hospital. She was punctured with a needle from an AIDS patient and had to take terrible drugs in the middle of her pregnancy, but she survived and their was no harm to her baby. Her brother served in the Peace Corps in Africa, returned to Africa to write a book. He was hijacked on the highway where they took everything, including the clothes on his back, but he clutched his manuscript and managed to keep it. You would have much to discuss with them. Enjoy Kili!


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