This Friday I was asked to work at a government hospital instead of being at the respite unit. My supervisor, MaryAnn told me that the Don McKenzie TB Hospital was in desperate need of help and she wondered if I’d be interested. MaryAnn and her husband, Stephen (one of only a few Doctors at the hospital) are two of the most amazing people I’ve ever encountered. I’ve only known them for about a month, but they are together saving, prolonging and improving the lives of thousands of HIV/AIDS and TB patients all around Kwa-Zulu Natal.
I arrived at the Ethembeni Clinic (an ARV roll-out site and a part of the hospital) and was asked to start sorting, filing and “inspecting” the files of some of the thousands of patients registered at the Clinic. This took up quite a chunk of the day. The files are numbered but there is minimal computerized tracking. It’s all hard copy…papers upon papers upon papers. The record keeping in this country is UNREAL or should I say NON-EXISTENT.
Once I was done mulling over CD4 blood count result sheets and clinic cards, I was asked to assist at the hospital pharmacy. As I said before, the clinic is an ARV roll-out site. This means that patients from all over the area (including our patients at the respite unit) come to the hospital to be trained about how to properly take their ARV treatment and to pick up their medicines each month. The two women working in the pharmacy were a delight and were so excited to have my help. They are literally drowning in a sea of medications and they’re lacking the help to dispense it properly. I spent a few hours packaging TB medications for patients in the acute stages. I also put together some of the ARV packets that will be picked up this week by patients. It was an interesting task and I enjoyed being on the practical end of things for the day.
My roommates picked me up and we stopped off at the local post office to pick up a PACKAGE!!!!!!!! I am not going to lie…I love getting mail here…THANKS MOM!!!! Inside was heaven, oh wait, I mean fruit by the foot, skittles, airhead candy, dried fruit mix, crystal light packets, valentines day treats and last but not least a music card that played TIM MCGRAW!!! Good job Nancy!
I got home and was exhausted after a really tiring week. I laid down for a bit and just as I was closing my eyes Baba Benji arrived to pick me up to deliver food parcels. I have now gone 3 times and I have been tired each time, however, it’s one of my favorite times of the week. This week it was just me and Benji. We arrived in the valley and our “helper” was not available. We went to the first house and picked up another young boy from the parish to help us, Emmanuel. Now, we were off.
Each week, we visit and deliver to the same houses, the same families, the same children, but it never gets old. They are the highlight of my week. I’ll tell you about a few of them…
-One little girl that is always naked and is about 2 or 3 years old. She was legitimately terrified of me, but then she saw that I had candy in my hand to give her. She has horrible open sores all over her face…this week they were worse and quite dirty. I am going to bring gloves, warm water and some supplies from the respite next week to see if I can at least clean her up. I’ll keep you posted.
-How about the three little boys that wait at the side of the road together and LOVE when we pull up? They act like they’re directing our car and love high fives. This week one hung onto the window looking and staring at me. They love having their picture taken each week.
-Then there’s my favorite, the boy I’ve spoken about a few times already. This week, he wasn’t waiting for us. We proceeded to “off-road” to get to his house. We couldn’t even get that close because there is no path or road. Baba honked his horn and the little boy came running down the hill followed by three little girls. I had brought some Valentine’s lollipops that my Mom had sent to give him…luckily, I had four. They then posed for a picture, lollipops in hand! Too cute!
-There is also another house with two naked babies always running around. I brought the food around the corner. The family is so nice and grateful. The Go-Go told the baby to say “thank you” and she attempted her best English. It was so sweet.
Here are some pictures from our delivery: