Monday, January 18, 2010

In the thick of it....

I am not going to even try to remember as to what has happened when, but just to ramble about some of the events to try to share a sense of this place. It is lush and green, green, green. Hot and humid when the sun is out and sort of cold when it is raining. Torrential rains, at times, just pounding, with mini rivers running everywhere and a lightening strike the other day so close that it caused the oxygen machine to spark????

Have been in the malnutrition ward all week taking care of malnourished children (marasmus and kwashiorkor cases) and some really sick kids, with malaria, pneumonia, severe anemia...and ??? The lab tech's newborn baby just died so he isn't here, plus I don't know all the things we can or do test for here, plus often it is the shotgun approach to treating people. You can assume that all the kids are somewhat anemic and have worms and are malnourished to some degree and then they get malaria or something else and they can be pretty sick. We sent several babies to get blood transfusions (we can't do those here) but they haven't returned yet.

The families stay with the patients, sleep in the beds with them, yes really, help take care of them, and often help some of the other patients. They patients take their own meds and the moms were doing the feedings and medicating their kids...except for the IVs, and the first day I figured out that they weren't exactly measuring the correct amount. I then taught the moms the correct amounts and we had a staff meeting and it was decided that the nurses needed to be giving giving the meds. We are getting there. It's like nothing you would EVER see in the states. Confusing to say the least and the first day I couldn't figure out who one of my little babies was because her mother had left her with the mother of another baby and I thought she belonged to that mom and wasn't a patient. Lots of noise, babies crying, moms talking, babies peeing on the floor, or on their bed...diapers do not exist...their version is a piece of cloth tied around the butt and then like a plastic bag wrapped around this...if that. I have gotten over the smells pretty quickly as they are rather permeating. All the commotion doesn't seem to stop anyone from sleeping if they want to. The babies just get covered completely and are just this little bump in the bed.

I am having the time of my life...really, some the babies are sooo cute, I am in love.....filling my heart for sure. The kids as they get stronger start to play and wander outside. This evening all the moms and babies were out sitting on the grass and they started singing. They tried to teach me as well....with mixed results...they certainly had a good laugh, as did I.

I also went out with Alex, the computer guy to do some GPS plotting of the homes of accompagnateurs in a village about a two hour circuitous drive and then another hour walk up,down, up down...some of these people live 3 to 4 hours away from the VHW clinic. They help take care and distribute medication (for TB and HIV infected people) and educate people in their community about the diseases. Most of the accompagnateurs came to Kigutu this morning and Helen and Brad gave them a power point presentation about malaria, signs and symptoms, prevention and treatment and distributed ponchos and bags.

The Burundians in this area are very poor, live very simply, have very little, are very proud, yet humble, and continue to amaze me..

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