Our morning started off with a protesting child who did not want a diaper change. Her parents did so they could be ready to for the team when it arrived. Her father figured out that the protesting was because she was in the process of pooping. Unfortunately he figured this out as he was removing the diaper. And in the process of trying to get the diaper off some of the poop (okay, a sizable blob of it) fell onto her bath towel that was still on her change table from last night. In an effort to be of assistance the Mommy in the family (ahem, that would be me speaking in third person) took said towel to dispose of the poop in the toilet, but on the way into the bathroom accidentally dropped the poop from the towel onto the washing machine while she tried to turn the light on. For the record everyone got through this incident unharmed and with limited gagging.
Yes internet, I so did just start this post with a poop story. Because this is our life and I would hate to deprive you of those special moments.
So, that’s how our day started out. Thankfully it wasn’t an indicator of how things would go for the rest of it, and to be honest, until I sat down to write I forgot all about it. That was mostly because the last few days have been really busy and my head has been full.
Lori’s team have been a blessing. Lori is the dentist, we’ve had 5 nurses, two camera type guys, child care people and others that have taken on several paint jobs that have either been put off or were the final stage of a recent project. I wish I had an exact count of the number of people that we’ve seen in the last three days, but I don’t. We had 120 people scheduled in the dental side of things and 120 in the nursing side of things for the 4 days of clinic. I know for the dental we’ve seen most of the people that had appointments so far, give or take a few no shows every day, and same for the nursing side – more people than we had scheduled so far. Not crazy, just more.
My Creole has been getting a work out and I will admit that it felt good when Chris and I were translating in the same room and I was giving him the right words to use to explain something. I think my days up at the clinic doing Medika Manba have come in handy. I think almost every person we had come in had an acid reflux problem mostly attributed to a lot of MSG in their food. Maggi cubes, a type of bullion, or Accent, are used in EVERYTHING here and people just don’t know what’s in it. Lots of female issues, which Chris would just say, “This one’s yours” and walk out of the room ;) I, for the record could translate for male issues and not bat an eyelash. Hee hee.
One fun thing that I got to do was watch one of our employees get an abscess on his face lanced and cleaned out yesterday. It was nasty and I did take pictures. I was translating through all of it so he knew what they were doing, and learned how to pack it because I get to be the designated dressing changer for the next few days until we can send him for stitches. And you know what? It was so fun. And gross. But fun. And at the end of the day Evens came and wanted to see the pictures I took and hear the gory details about the big gob of puss goo they pulled out of his face :)
Some things have been heavy. We had an 11 year old girl on the first day with a possible STD. Ugh. That case got a referral to a clinic that could do a bit more research and better assess things. The other big one today was doing a pregnancy test that came out positive and having the lady be very upset about it. She already has two kids and said there’s no way she could look after another one and told me outright that she wouldn’t have the baby. I encouraged her to carry the baby and find an orphanage that could take it so it might get connected with a family that can look after it. Those things are hard. How can I even understand the weight she’s carrying now? We have so many resources in North America. It was hard being the only one that really understood what she was saying and having to translate that for everyone. When she went outside I had a good cry.
I like the connection with people that we’ve been able to have in the last few days. The medical system here is lacking in many things, but one of the biggest is the lack of education. In Canada I can go to the doctor, explain what’s going on and they’ll ask probing questions to narrow things down. They will look for a cause for a variety of symptoms, not just treat each symptom individually. My doctor with teach me about prevention if necessary and give me well rounded healthcare. Here, a patient lists their symptoms and a doctor/nurse will give them a prescription for a list of medicines. There isn’t much explanation about what they’re getting or why, or how to stop the problem from persisting. We’ve had employees come back from the doctor with a bunch of stuff and not know what it’s for and we’ve walked them through it to explain it. For example, most of the people we saw had acid reflux but had no idea that was diet related. People complained of back pain and we would find out they work in the fields or do physical labour all day long so we taught them about how to bend and what they can do to prevent that. I like that we could do that for them and that their faces lit up when we started describing how the pain would come on, like we understood and got it. Like they were a person.
We’ve had some sweet moments with meeting our workers families – parents, wives, children, cousins, aunts, uncles… It’s been fun. I love that they’re proud to introduce them to us and for us to meet them. I like it when the wives say, “Madame Chris! I’m so-and-so’s wife,” and they were happy to meet me. My favorite has been meeting some of the older people, like parents. SO fun. We hired a new guy a few weeks ago and his mom came yesterday. I had a good chat with her and she asked me to make sure her son could work with us a long time because there is nothing for him in this country. She also said that she knew of the problems we had and we talked about that a bit and she was really encouraging to me and Chris about how we needed to keep doing the work we’re doing here in the community. Another fun moment was meeting Edmond’s parents. His dad is 81 and mom is 75. They were SO sweet and you could tell they have lived a long life together. I know they have a big family. We just wanted to hug them. I like that my Creole is advanced enough that I can joke around with people or tell people like Edmond’s parents, “Yes, your bones are aching because they’re telling you you’ve worked enough in life and it’s time to take a rest,” and see big smiles and sparkling eyes and get a giggle. The truth is, the older generation here has worked harder than we will ever understand just to survive, and they have seen more than they will ever be able to tell. A person who lives into their 80’s here deserves a good rest :)
There are more stories but my brain is tired and shutting down so I’ll wrap it up for tonight. Just before the team left we cleared the clinic stuff out of the dorm room we need tomorrow and Sara and I did a quick tidy and bed change to get things all ready for our students who are arriving tomorrow afternoon. We are go, go, go for the next week but I think we’re all looking forward to it. More to come as we have time.