Friday, February 18, 2011
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Friday, February 11, 2011
This week we did two live radio shows to get the word out about VVF in this country and to tell about the AWC. On Tuesday we went to the first station. I went with Bernadette, one of the screening nurses, and Fatmata, one of the patients. We arrived at about ten to four. Our on-air time was 4-5pm. I had money in hand and we were ready to go...until we got there and they looked at us and asked what were we doing there. The actual station was an hour away. It would have been nice to have been told that when we set up our date last week in this office. They said they could put us on at 6 instead. Fine. We went to that station and walked up some stairs and down this sketchy hallway. It was dark except for light coming from under the doors we were passing. Another moment where I just think...what am I doing here. At the end of the hallway was the production room. A table with two microphones coming up out of the middle of a padded table and some radio gear. Fatmata is only a girl. Still in school and I was afraid she would be too afraid to talk. I never really saw her talk much on the ward. Put her in front of a microphone...she did great! I was proud of her. Bernadette talked for awhile about VVF and the clinic and all that stuff but Fatmata told her story and she wasn’t afraid. She was even able to talk a bit in Temene, the dialect she speaks at home. It was a call in radio broadcast. Flashing. Flashing is something done a lot here in Sierra Leone. If you want to call someone but not use your minutes, you will flash them. You will call them. Let it ring once and hang up. The person you are calling will see you called and hopefully call you back. The only call-ins we got were flashes. The radio station isn’t going to call you back! So no call-ins that night. That was fine though. The program still lasted an hour and I was so proud for Fatmata!
Yesterday we went to another station. One that reaches the entire country and even a bit into Guinea and Liberia. The frustration with this one came when we went to pay. It was more expensive but I was expecting that. So we paid. We were about to start when the person who was going to run the interview wanted to know how much we were going to pay her. Huh? We already paid. By now we were running late and they were trying to force us on but I know that unless you get money issues sorted before you start something then it just gets messy. Finally the producer came in and said whatever money we give is fine and we need to get on with it. I think that is one of my biggest frustrations here. Money. There is always more and more and more that is expected. There is never an end. If you rent a taxi for a day and take it to the beach, the driver expects you to buy them lunch and after he drops you off to pay more for him to get home and on and on and on...But back to my story... So we gave her a small small amount, and moved on. OY. The show went better than expected. I figured that since we had made our moderator angry that we would have a bad show. It went well though. Again, Fatmata was incredible. Bernadette didn’t come this time. The other screening nurse, Fatmata-a popular name here, came. The callers that called in called from all over the country. From Kenema to Bo to the far reaches of Sierra Leone. It was really encouraging. There was one man who called in after Fatmata, the nurse, had made a comment that after surgery a women can’t have sex for six months. This man called and said that the woman would do whatever the man said. OY, again. For real? After comments like that I look at Fatmata, the patient, and I am so thankful for her. She is headed home tomorrow. I asked her today if she is going back to school and she said yes in a way that made me feel small. I have gotten that feeling from a few of the younger patients here. After this they really know what’s important. Fatmata is headed back to school next week. She is so happy. I don’t know how many times she thanked me today and hugged me. I wish I could see her five, ten, twenty years from now. I have a feeling she will do something big with her life. Driving home from the radio station Fatmata, the patient, got a phone call from home. They had heard her on the radio! She is going home dry, but also a celebrity.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Sunday, February 6, 2011
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Friday, February 4, 2011
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Let me take a moment and reflect on the happenings of my first month in Sierra Leone...
- January 3rd I arrived. It’s not hard enough to just land and find your baggage in the midst of hundreds of people, but then having to get on a water taxi to get to the mainland. The adventure had only just begun...
- Was welcomed into an amazing group of people.
- Visited some of the most beautiful beaches around!
- Ate some of the greatest seafood!
- Was crammed and pushed and folded into poda podas and taxis.
- Sat in traffic...
- Sat in traffic...
- Sat in traffic...
- Met some amazing women with fistulas.
- Cried in front of my boss.
- Sent away women in tears knowing where I was sending them was not where they wanted to go but knew there were no other options.
- Led my first staff meeting.
- Wanted a dog.
- Taught my first lecture on hyponatremia.
- Ate African food for lunch five days a week.
- Shook my tumba.
- Danced, and not just at gladi gladi.
- Watched season 1 of Bones.
- Got a job title.
- Questioned what I am doing here.
- Questioned why I ever questioned what I am doing here.
- Saw patients wet.
- Saw patients dry.
- Saw patients somewhere in between.
- Learned about #2 and #3 plugs.
- Slept under a mosquito net every night.
- Woke up at 0230 covered in mosquito bites.
- Forgot to take my doxi for three days.
- Went to my first management meeting.
- E-mailed the girl in this job before me with tons of questions.
- Made some great friends.
- Took a shower for longer than two minutes in Africa.
- Ate haggis...twice.
- Learned to play carcassonne.
- Saw one monkey.
- Made my first roster.
- Fixed my first roster.
- Still fixing my first roster.
- Witnessed pure joy.
- Witnessed pure heartbrokenness.
- Ate my first lobster.
- Was woken up at 5am to be told there were no more diapers.
- Learning more and more what it really means to trust God.
- Walked into the ward and saw a patient standing directly in front of a large fan holding her shirt above her head.
- Watched an ultrasound.
- Saw brand new babies.
- Bonded with a nurse over scrubbing cabinets.
- Got filthy from just siting in a car.
- Reunited with friends I had met on a ship last year.
- Joined two Bible studies.
- I think I may have quit one Bible study.
- Sat and talked with patients without using words.
- Heard awful screaming from the labor ward.
- Floated down a river into the ocean.
- Learned very small small krio.
And tomorrow I may be on the radio.