OkaZHI: Okanagan-Zambia Health Initiative

The Makuwa are in Town!

  We’ve been in Mongu for almost a week now.  We’re staying at the Cheshire guest house, which is in the Malengwa district, on Limulenga road.  When we arrived here we were greeted by many of the village children – probably thirty in total.  They were so excited to see us, yelling out ‘makuwa’ once they realized who we were.  Makuwa means ‘white person’ in Lozi (one of the languages native to this area).  Every now and then, we will see bright white eyes of the children peering through the cement fence.  They don’t speak very much English, but they do understand how to play and sing; which is how we have been connecting with them.  They are so affectionate and full of life, laughing at our mannerisms.  We have learned a few phrases in Lozi and the locals find our attempts at speaking their language extremely amusing, we may not get the pronunciation exactly right, but we are slowly learning.  The people are so friendly here.  They all say ‘hello’, look into our eyes and ask how we are in passing.  We definitely feel the warm welcome.

  We have just finished one clinical placement at Lewanika General Hospital.  It has been a very eye opening experience thus far.  Schedules, procedures, level of cleanliness, standard of care… everything is so different than what we’re used to.  It really makes us appreciate all the resources we have available in Canada.  We take things, such as tourniquets  and alcohol swabs for granted.  Alcohol swabs aren’t available, so the nurses soak cotton in methylated spirits.  It has an intense odour that’s hard to get used to.  Tourniquets aren’t available, so instead they’ll use a glove, IV tubing or an NG tube.  Post-op pain killers are also not an option, and we are continually amazed at the tolerance and resilience of these people. The children are stoic and hardly cry or wince when having an IV put into their arm.  They receive antibiotics undiluted, which is very hard on the veins, but the children tolerate it.  It is customary to be silent. Crying or ‘wailing’ is only heard when a person passes, which is frequent at the hospital.
   Next week, we are on to new clinical placements and a new journey. Stay tuned…

Alicia, Megan H and Meagan M

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