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The Team, The Team, The Team

rain 65 °F

Today has really tested my ability to ride the wave of life. My first clue of the ups and downs I was to face for the day was during my run; I had such a high when I ran within 50 meters of a group of zebras, including a baby zebra. They look exactly like striped horses and seem nice enough. Then I found a 50 cent South African rand. The down part was that it started to torrentially downpour during the last 15 minutes of my run. Now for the actual ups and downs of my day though.

My first project was a clinic session. It was the translator, our supervisor, my volunteer partner, and me and we were telling information to the patients in the waiting room about vaginal thrush. We were at the clinic from 9-11:30, and finished giving the talks after about 30 minutes, so we went to the reception area to assist in taking patient vital signs (blood pressure, temperature, pulse, height, and weight). It was our first time at this clinic and we had never had an orientation on how the clinic takes vital signs. To add to this, no patient information is stored electronically, and every patient brings their patient files into the room and every folder looks different. It's very disorganized. Not to mention, the nurses are all able to speak English, but choose to speak to us in Zulu, well aware we don't speak the language. It felt like a power move, like to emphasize that we were in their place. So going into the clinic, all we knew was which vitals we were taking (not how to run the machines or which patients get which vitals - because apparently babies and adults require different vital signs to be taken, which we know now) and to mark the vitals that were out of the healthy range in red pen (we weren't shown the healthy ranges, which were later shown to us after we had mistakenly recorded a high BP in black pen). The entire time the nurses were very huffy, rolling their eyes, scoffing, and snapping at us. I was rolling with the punches until the nurse snapped at me for saying the weight of a baby, which didn't make sense because 5 seconds later she said the exact same weight of the baby. My partner and I felt so dejected. We were working so hard, even trying to speak Zulu and smile to the patients, but the nurses were making sure we felt like imbeciles. It was a really depressing experience because we felt unwanted even though we were doing all we could to be helpful. The part I don't understand is that when we were leaving, the nurse requested we stay to do one more patient. I don't know how to read it, but I have to think something bad had happened in their lives and they were just frustrated that they continuously have to keep reteaching new volunteers such a simple job, because it does get easier the more you do it...but it was just our first time.

My partner and I were very quiet and sad for most of the afternoon. I just wanted to be alone, so I went on a walk and listened to music, which helped a bit. What really helped was being surrounded by such positive people. In the clinic, our supervisor kept reassuring us that we were doing a really good job and being very efficient, and we kept reassuring each other that it was going to be okay, then when we got back to the lodge, everyone was asking what happened and if we wanted to talk about it. I never know how project is going to go, but I love knowing that I have a place to come back to with lots of friends who will go out of their way to make me feel better :)

The afternoon was like night and day to the morning session. I went to building/gardening!! We helped Lucky, a Zulu man who works with African Impact, build a table from scratch for a woman to sell her vegetables on. Then we went to another woman's garden to pick weeds and plant seedlings. I love the hands-on work and I love that Lucky is all business. He's very quiet but gets serious work done. I also feel like when you finish gardening/building, you leave something physical behind that you know will help someone -- the other projects you never know whether they are doing any good.

We finished out the night with a big trivia game night at the Lodge. Everyone joined in. Our team unfortunately came in fourth out of six teams, but it was really fun :) Later, we did some girl talk in one of the rooms and watched the movie "Us". I have to say today turned into a gorgeous day (not weather wise because the rain never did clear). Thanks to my friends and teammates here in South Africa, I am going to adapt to life here and have a good time.

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Picture of game night!

Posted by kfkeane 12:31 Archived in South Africa Tagged rain tea friends dinner run weather zebra volunteer clinic thriller trivia teammates vitals game_night

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Comments

First off, congrats on continuously posting to the blog! It definitely takes focus to set aside time everyday to write on top of running and volunteering.

It definitely sounds like the day was full of ups and downs as you said! It's too bad that you didn't have a good experience at the clinic, but it definitely sounds like it was a broader problem and not at all something that you did. Although I can completely relate to how you felt. I would have felt the same way!

But it's really nice that the group you are with is super supportive. You definitely make a special bond with the people you go through that type of experience with. They understand and are closer to the experience more than anyone else. So, glad that you are enjoying your time with them and talking/reflecting on your experiences together.

by kaitlin

Kaitlin: Thank you! I don't do it every night, but I really try to. I'm glad you appreciate it. It's the best way for me to update everyone en mass.

I hope your work colleagues will be super supportive as well. Now I'm working on getting together ideas for souvenirs for the fam.

by kayla keane

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