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The Final Countdown

sunny 73 °F

Since the safari, nothing has seemed that exciting. It’s the last week of projects, and I’m ready to leave. Although I feel sad when I think about leaving, I think it’s just a natural part of saying goodbye – especially since I’ve been here for almost a month, which is a pretty long period of time. Those feelings are already fading, though. I find myself half-present during projects. Like I’m there, but my mind is wandering. I keep thinking about going home on weekends to cuddle with my pups, eat grilled food from my dad, and go for family boat rides (I’m also really looking forward to running on terrain that isn’t only hills and hopefully sometime after 6:00AM).

So this final week of project, I was a little disappointed because I have Holiday Club (similar to daycare) twice: Monday and Wednesday. I definitely left Holiday Club on Monday with snot on my shirt and saliva on my arms/hands. I also held hands with children who had their hands touching private parts. I tried to trade my Wednesday Holiday Club session with someone else, even going as far as offering to buy a milkshake if they did so, but no one would trade me. It’s just not a hot commodity. Yesterday afternoon we also had planning, where I was in charge of planning the clinic information sessions for the week. I happened to learn a lot about sinus infections, gout, and HIV during/after pregnancy. Actually it was very interesting.

Today, I had a morning session of home-based care, which is basically where we go to people’s houses and take their blood pressure, clean wounds, provide clinic transfers, and give painkillers/laxatives/multivitamins. I had some good and bad takeaways. Bad: once again it didn’t seem like we did much. For example, we went to a man whose hands were shaking badly and he had reddish urine and was constipated. We took his blood pressure and gave him laxatives (which later his grandson came out and showed us an entire bag of unused laxatives he already had). The translator/woman from the village who examines the patients thought he had something wrong with his kidney, but what we did didn’t seem very helpful. The good part, though, was actually really cool! I loved travelling throughout the village and having these intimate appointments with the patients. The patients were all smiling and so talkative, which is polar opposite from the feelings/observations I had in the clinic. The whole atmosphere was different when the patient was seen within the home. This is something I would be interested in the future; perhaps I could be a doctor in a rural town who does home visits. It would be more personal, and I could build stronger relationships with the patients.

Well, I’m going to start getting ready for bed, but I’m still thinking about souvenirs for people. I have a couple of non-food items (I need more but I’m still not exactly sure what people want) and some food items (also need more because you can never have too many). I realized that since I haven’t gone out to eat at all, I have a lot of money for souvenirs, so it’s time for a shopping spree. Treated myself to a 1 Liter bottle of Coca-Cola for tonight with my extra money (oh wait, hahah just remembered I forgot to bring my money so someone else payed for it) and played a little Balderdash (kind of fun) but I think a game everyone should try is 30 seconds! So fun!! 5 days left. Single-digits baby!

Posted by kfkeane 12:06 Archived in South Africa Tagged children home travel village fun morning games money volunteer zulu pregnancy doctor program hiv infection kidney gout balderdash Comments (2)

First Day in the Villages

(This post is from yesterday - 6/6/19 but wifi wasn't in the picture)

Hi guys, so while the WiFi is off at the Lodge, I may have trouble responding to comments :( I’m sorry. The worst part of being here is literally just how much I miss everyone. It’s such a new experience not being able to call someone at the touch of a button. I didn’t even take it for granted before; I just miss the luxury. Currently, my biggest challenge is looking at my watch, seeing the time back home, and wondering what everyone is doing or what I’d normally be doing. That really gets me, especially at night.

In other news, today was our first day of service work. We have two sessions: morning and afternoon. My morning session was at the clinic, but since we hadn’t had orientation, we read these premade informational sheets on “road safety” and “mental health” to the patients in the waiting room. We read in English while someone who works with African Impact (the group we are volunteering with) translated. My biggest worry was that we were forcing our volunteer work on them. Something I learned when preparing for this trip was that a lot of times volunteers come in to towns to “help” but never ask the people if the help they are providing is something they want/care about. I tried to put myself in their position and wondered if I’d appreciate two random people coming in and reading information sheets to me. They didn’t seem to care much about the road safety one, but they were really interested in mental health. Our translator said it was because it was a sickness, so they could treat it. The talks let them know that their feelings aren’t unique and can be helped by going to the doctor; mental health seems similar here as in the USA but in a separate context.

After lunch, my session was “family empowerment”. My partner and I went to a family’s house to play with the children. We made macaroni bracelets, played soccer, jump rope, and ring around the rosie, and painted nails – yes, I even got mine painted! The kids were so smart! They loved practicing counting in English and were so good at communicating with actions rather than words. I was very impressed. On the drive home, we all finally saw some hippos!!!! Finally!

My biggest takeaway from today is the speed of life in South Africa. Not the speed of day-to-day life, because that’s slower than molasses, but the speed at which people start having babies and die. I was talking with our translator and her daughter, who is 18, had to stop school a couple of years ago because she became pregnant. Also, I was showing her pictures of my parents and she asked, “Are they still with you?” and when I replied yes, she was surprised, but said “Oh, well I guess you are still young.” It was pretty eye opening to hear this first-hand.

Posted by kfkeane 13:25 Archived in South Africa Tagged village fun family volunteer south_africa service doctor wifi mental_health Comments (6)

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