Wednesday, May 6, 2009

No, I’m not on holiday

This is a job. I joke that I measure people by their work ethic, and I do here more than ever.

I’m not here to lounge – not that many people here do. I genuinely take my time volunteering seriously in an attempt to make it the best learning experience possible for myself, and to hopefully help others benefit from my blood, sweat and tears.

The first two days of projects have come and gone and they were tiring. I met a woman with shingles on ARVs who proudly proclaimed that she did not pass the virus on to her 3 year old son. I handed out 5 HIV Education certificates after administering tests at HIV Education in Ezwenelisha, where the clinic we work is situated.

Speaking of the clinic, on Tuesday Brier (also from Laurier) and I worked taking blood pressure, temperatures, pulses and weights of visitors to the clinic. Tuesdays is the Under-5 clinic so we were also busy weighing babies.

We must have seen over 50 patients, we agreed. For two non-stop hours we worked, allowing one of the nurses to immunize the babies instead of doing the tasks we were completing.

So it’s a little shocking, the medical side of things here. The healthcare system is in shambles, obviously (I mean okay let’s call a spade a spade here. I have never taken anyone’s blood pressure before and here I am taking over 50 today!). I had to weigh people while holding their babies, take the temperatures of people looking extremely ill and three times the blood pressure machine alarm went off. I can remember only one normal blood pressure and only one baby who registered a healthy weight.

It’s different visiting people’s homes to give them care. We bring them food parcels, a meal replacement shake and often toys and sweets for the children. These are the people who are too sick to make it to the clinic. The lady yesterday had been suffering from shingles and had many questions.

The little girl at the day care centre in the video will hopefully be taken care of on Wednesday. There was another emergency today where a two-week old baby had been given porridge with her formula milk by her grandmother and was desperately ill. Such is life, juggling a population in dire need of a revamping of its healthcare system – and we complain about ours!!!

You want a waiting room? Try one with the line-up all the way outside the building – that’s over 60 people ahead of you, most carrying another small person. I’ll never complain about waiting to see the doctor again. Need to use the bathroom? Use the outhouse. Air conditioning in 40+ weather? None. Men cutting in front of you if you’re a woman? They’re allowed.

Holy crap I’m exhausted and we’ve only just begun. See what I mean? After this I will actually need a holiday.


1 comment:

  1. WOW!!!!!!Keep up the wonderful work that you are doing Alanna. You are a beautiful young lady, and I am sure the Zulu families are thrilled to have you there too! Looking forward to reading your next blog. Love Mel~xo