OkaZHI: Okanagan-Zambia Health Initiative

We will Carry On.

     No, I didn’t post a blog last week, sorry Mom! So I am going to have to talk about my last two weeks here, and then since this will probably be my last entry, I should talk about some final thoughts on this experience.

Week 4: In the bush.
     Outreach week! Anna, Amanda and I spent 4 days out “in the bush” working in a small clinic and getting a glimpse into village life. The clinical side of the experience wasn’t all that exciting, with people coming in with small aches and pains that we treated.
 The biggest part of the clinical aspect was the connections we made. Lihana is an amazing woman who runs a feeding center, medical clinic and orphanage within the district of Mongu. She is a huge advocate for the people of Western Province. She is one of the people we went on this outreach with, and because of this visit she was able to connect with yet another isolated clinic. The village life was definitely the highlight of this experience. We sang and danced and told stories around a big campfire in the middle of a sand field every night. The best story I think we heard was one told by a young 8 or 9ish year old girl. She told us a story of a little girl who went venturing into the deep bush one night. This little girl continued her journey down dark paths until she came upon a ghost blocking her path! The ghost demanded that she sing and dance for him, or he would eat her. The young girl telling the story then proceeded to get up and start singing and dancing by the fire. She sang something along the lines of “please Mr. Ghost I do not want to be eaten!”. It was very cute, and the little girl in the story managed to get away from the ghost. I thought the story ended there, but it didn’t. The grandmother to the little girl had gone looking for her grand-daughter and had run into the ghost as well. The grandmother could not sing and dance however, so she was eaten. Great ending to the story, don’t you think?

Week 5: Bubbles make the world go round.
     My final clinical week was spent on childrens ward (also known as C Ward). I was able to really work with and teach many of the Zambian nursing students on this ward, as there were many first years who had little instruction from anyone but themselves (the nursing school in Mongu has almost no teachers right now). We also got to do a lot of “play therapy”, AKA having fun playing with children’s toys. It was a lovely way to end my clinical experience.

Some things I struggled with while here:

  • The situation in life here (especially in terms of health care and life prospects) is crazy unfair. Why was I born into a first world country? It all comes down to chance, and this fact makes me feel guilt every time I think about everything I have.
  • Getting lots of attention by being the stand out minority meant talking to a lot of people. I am not a particularly talkative person, so the constant conversations took a little getting use to. Being treated so differently also led me to think “will I ever be truly capable of knowing the culture here?”. I think that because we are seen so differently and separated as such we could never completely be a part of the people of Mongu.
  • There is so much poverty here that it seems to be considered normal living conditions to be living in a small hut with a large family without water or electricity. It really would take a lot to even just get the majority of the population above the poverty line.

Some things I learned:

  • There aren’t just 2 or 3 ways to do things, there are millions. 
  • The struggle of nursing without supplies is accomplished here everyday, and you can do a lot with a little. This makes creativity and critical thinking a huge asset to have, and those are skills I further developed during my time here.
  • Canada’s culture sucks. People have the capacity to be so much more friendly and open (even under the poor circumstances many are in here).
  • Singing and dancing does more than just make people happy. It unites, heals, and gets you some good old fashioned exercise.

To quote Carry On by Fun.: On our darkest day, when we’re miles away, sun will come, we will find our way home.
—————Stephanie Simpson

One Response to “We will Carry On.”

  1. Unknown

    Good morning Everyone,

    I imagine that you have already found your way home, or are soon home, looking at the world you left behind with different eyes, and wiser hearts. You have brought Zambia and many of its communitiesalive for us armchair visitors back in the Okanagan, and given us all so much to keep thinking about, with you. When Dean Binsted and I travel to Lusaka and Mongu in May with Jessica, we will not know Zambia – nor, as one of you pointed out, will we ever know it as our Zambian sisters and brothers know it. But thanks to you, we will arrive with some insights about being Canadians in Zambia, and we will hopefully serve our school, and serve this important relationship, as you have.

    Welcome home,

    Patricia Marck

Leave a comment