Posted by: Claire Liew13 APR 2013
One month in and it feels like I have been here so much longer. It was my first full 5 day week on placement. Spent a morning in the CTC clinic (Care and Treatment Centre) dishing out medication to adults with HIV/AIDS. Children and pregnant women come another day. So many patients. Started to learn the ropes in the pharmacy and make plans for the new Outpatient Department Pharmacy that is opening in the next couple of months and will be my project. They are still building it, so I'll wait and see when it is ready for business...we're working on African time. We placed the monthly order for drugs and laboratory/theatre/x-ray supplies - what we need came to 29 million shillings but we only have 10 million. So we'll get less than half of what we need for the next month. Anyway, MSD (Medical Stores Department) never has everything you order, which is strange as they are the government organisation that we must use as first line distributer. As pharmacy is responsible for ordering the entire hospitals supplies, I'm thinking of reducing the stuff the laboratory needs so we can get more drugs instead (only joking James)... We took Sister Columba for lunch to the restaurant the other day but she got into trouble later from Big Boss Sister - apparently nuns shouldn't eat in public with lay folk. But it meant I got jam sandwiches the next day for morning tea, so that worked out well. Speaking of nuns, this weekend there was a pilgrimage to the memorial for Sister Walburga, a German missionary nun who was killed in Nyangao in 1905. 14 nuns visiting from Kenya, Namibia, Uganda and India were visiting the region as part of their training to become fully fledged nuns in a few months time. We walked a couple of miles out of the village into the surrounding countryside. Past mud houses, farming families, small maize fields and rice paddies, with children laughing and hiding from the peculiar procession walking by. It was fantastic to see a new side of Nyangao and the great views over the surrounding plateau. James and I got told off for talking when the group should have been focused on singing and prayer. But our Swahili hymns are not up to scratch and I only know one prayer.
We were invited to lunch when we got back to the convent. There was CHICKEN! Followed by an awkward conversation where Sister Regina asked what denomination I was. Caught unawares and panicked, I started off by saying "Well......I'm not Catholic (please don't take away my chicken)", then waffled on incoherently until she dozed off or thought I was a lost cause. Couldn't admit I was there for the experience and the sodas. And my knees wouldn't cope with Catholicism. The prie-dieu is really hard. It is officially the short wet season now which means most days there are heavy showers in the afternoon. They don't last long though and the temperature cools down afterwards, which is always welcome. The weather report recently said it would be 35oC, but it will feel like 48oC. I'd rather they weren't so honest. Dr Jankiewicz and his wife, Mama Penda, invited us on a trip to Ndanda today. The home of Ndanda Spring Water (Slogan: An excellent product that money can buy) we filled up our empty bottles before going for a swim in a very refreshing lake. I was assured there was no risk of schistosomiasis but Dr Janki waited until the actual second I had got in to tell me, "people sometimes see animals in the lake". WHAT SORT OF ANIMALS?! "Big lizards," he said, "but no-one has seen a crocodile yet". Thank God for that. Nevertheless, I didn't stop looking underneath me and was replaying episodes of Crocodile Hunter in my head the whole time. As I settle in to life in Nyangao, I look for at least one happy thing every day. Whether it's the thought of an ice cold, expired Sippy Cola when I get home (yes, I know how to party), a meal other than rice, an evening where you don't spend 30 minutes on the run from a half spider/half scorpion-type creature, or hearing from a friend, it all helps. Today's happy thing: writing about the nuns pilgrimage just as "I love Rock and Roll" by Britney Spears played on the IPOD Shuffle. FYI the playlist was selected by my best friend...I love you dearly, but some of your music choices are suspect! Language blunder of the week: Asking someone if they had been watching my friend, instead of asking if they had seen my friend. Ergo implying they were a pervert...smooth.