Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Report from Simalundu

You have to take a baby out of its mother's arms to weigh it. You
have to weigh babies before you can prescribe medicine. So, the sure
sign that the medical mission is underway is to listen for the crying
There is a triage station where weight, among other things, is
recorded on a piece of paper before the patients move on to queue up
in the doctor's line. The workers at the triage station are the most
pleasant and wonderful women, but their arms and faces are white and
most of these babies aren't accustomed to seeing white faces. As a
result, the crying starts early. Zambian mothers like mothers
worldwide know how to fix the problem, but it is usually after the
next in line starts so the sound is almost constant.
It is Tuesday (I think) and we are at Simalundu and yesterday was a
moving day, so we were unable to stop and post to the blog. We may
post some late information about Monday well after Monday.
Simalundu is a village of people who were displaced by the building of
the Caribba River Dam. When their valley flooded, they were
relocated, and clearly the land they received was not as fertile as
the land they gave up to the lake. They have two wells, but one is
dry at the moment, and the other barely gives up enough water to
provide daily drinks to the local people. As a result, we carry lots
of water with us so that when the population swells to several
thousand, rather than the customary 200 or 300, people have water to
drink and to cook with. We also bring about 500 pounds of ground corn
for cooking that is given to the local villagers. Just now the village
headman came and asked if we could transport some of his people to get
water. We will send one of the smaller trucks to help them.
One of the first through the line this morning was a young man with
Elephantiasis so bad he could hardly walk. Unfortunately there is
little we can do to treat the overarching problem, however he did have
open wounds that we were able to treat, and he was given wraps that,
if used daily, will keep his condition from getting worse. Sheryl
Ramsey has been working with freewheelchairs.com out of California,
and they donated several chairs for our mission this year. On our
previous trips, we had only enough used wheelchairs to give to the
most desperate needs.
This was our first morning to set up a clinic, and we got it done but
slowly. The first day is always partially a training day when
everyone gets a feel for how it comes together. I know that when we
move on Thursday our second set up will happen much more quickly.
The need is great here. People are undernourished more than in many
of the villages we have visited, and in need of medical care. We are
blessed with a wonderful, if smaller than usual team of volunteers
from Zambia and the US.
We will try to post more as time permits.
Please forgive the disjointed nature of the posts, communication is
tricky here, and we sometimes have to post many things at once and
often out of order.
Thanks for your interest.