OkaZHI: Okanagan-Zambia Health Initiative

Save A Life Centre

Excited to head to SALC!
This past week we (Aryn & Robyn) had the pleasure of working at the Save A Life Centre. It was a wonderful experience and we were pushed hard every single day. Each day runs a little differently at the SALC, which kept things interesting for us. Some days are focused on the feeding program, where we care for malnourished children and teach the mom’s about proper nutrition. Each week a new topic is discussed (toddler food, how to run a micro-business, family planning, etc.). This was interesting because we learned a lot about the local food and what people traditionally make in the villages – lots of porridge, ground nuts, and eggs! Three days a week they spend the morning doing home visits to check in on the babes in the program and to see how they are doing in the home setting – if the house is clean, if the water containers are covered and if the babes are doing well. This usually consists of walking, in the heat, for 3 hours, through winding villages, swarming with fire biting ants….. half of the time only to reach a house and find out that the babe is not there and is off with the kukoo (grandparents). It was wild for us to see the living conditions that all of these people live in day by day. Many huts dont have flooring and Mongu is a very sandy place (big beach, no water) this means everything is consistently sandy. We saw old broken down motorbikes being used as blanket racks, single rooms that slept over 5 people, and stray dogs everywhere. The interesting part is that everyone still has a cellphone. We saw a lot of young children in the villages, always being greeted by “Makuwa! Makuwa!”. Lots of young women were carrying gallons of water on their head from who knows how far away to bring to their families for the day. It’s amazing how far all of these people walk every day. Lots of children are working at their family’s produce stands to make ends meet for their family – it made us sad to think that these children are not getting the education that they deserve. It’s been a bit of a culture shock to even begin to imagine putting ourselves in these people’s shoes. 
one of the babes in the program during a home visit
The second half of our day consisted of working at the Village of Hope Clinic, where we were essentially acting as Walk-in doctors… We would meet with our patients, hear their symptoms, complete an assessment, decide on the route of action, prescribe medications & antibiotics, and then fill these prescriptions in the next room. This was all met with many challenges – mostly due to the language barrier. Thankfully we had Nasalayle with us to help with the translation process. The lozi people are not a very descriptive group, as we have learned. Many will just say “stomach ache” and we will need to probe for more in depth answers – “Diarrhea? Vomiting? How Long? What Colour?”. I think this was the most stressful part of our days and the most draining. This is something that we have never been put in the position to do and the people in the village have so much trust in us. They hear that “Makuwa Nurses from Canada” are here and think we know a lot more than maybe we think we do. For example, one night at midnight we were awoken to one of the Orphan Mom’s with a child who was sick with a fever & cough. They knew that we were staying in the house on the property and looked to us for advice and comfort. We’ve learned that many people here are very afraid of malaria and sometimes they just need some reassurance that they don’t have it – especially since the symptoms of malaria are so vague. 
annie from SAL with baby Agnes
It’s been a crazy and exhausting week and we couldn’t have done it without the wonderful girls at the SALC and Lihana. Lihana has been such a great resource for us and has shown us so much kindness over the past five days. We are excited for the rest of our crew to have the opportunity to work with such an amazing group of women.

 From Robyn & Aryn!

One Response to “Save A Life Centre”

  1. Unknown

    Dear Robyn & Aryn,

    And so the journey begins at the deep end – and it sounds to me like you are keeping your heads above water even as you try to absorb too much too fast. Please give Lihana my best wishes and I know she is a wonderful menotr for you. Remember you are who you are – student nurses – you know more than you think and you cannot expect to ever know as much as you wish you did. Do your best, act with integrity, and soak up the learning. You will surprise yourselves.

    Take care,

    Tricia

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