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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Work Begins at Mazimbu and We Learn About Bio-gas

“Man like a snail, curled on the ground, covered with his cloak, hand held out in supplication, veiled good Samaritan stops and gives money.“

Our team of seventeen is composed of 2 doctors, a nurse practitioner, 2 nurses and 12 helpers.  Because of the blessing of so many helpers, we are able to have 3 or 4 team members participate in “field trips” each day.  This is something that Bishop Mameo has encouraged over the years—“just come and BE with us.”  Today Kilatu went with Nancy, Bailee, Courtney, Cecily and Eileen to a dairy cattle project that is run by women and designed to harvest bio-gas for energy.

The barns are clustered around each other and each family is given a cow and a bull.  Manure is collected in a pail and mixed with water or cow urine and the subsequent gas from decomposition goes through a pipe to a cooling pool.  From there it is piped into the home and is burnable for cooking or lighting. The liquid portion is used to fertilize crops, especially maize, which then becomes fodder for the cows.  It is an ingenious circle of efficiency.  Although our team was fascinated by the mechanics of the dairy project, the highlight of their day was the hospitality shown to them by the families working the project.  The welcome they received was effusive and they were encouraged to come again and to bring other visitors.

Meanwhile, the hospital crew arrived with bags of equipment and supplies at 8 am, just in time for our doctors to join in the Mazimbu morning meeting.  During the meeting, the rest of the team set up stations and prepped rooms for our doctors to use for examinations.  We have found in past years that it helps to have a helper working with each doctor—running errands, taking notes, or just generally assisting their doctor in any way.  Another helper works as a patient navigator, leading our patients to their assigned doctor or the lab or pharmacy.

River worked as Andrea and Lana’s helper; Catherine worked as Arleigh’s helper; Bill and Lance began their projects for Matron;  Pati worked the registration/triage desk, assisting Emily and Cindy as they interviewed patients; and Anne and Diane joined forces as patient navigators.  Word has spread that our doctors this year are focusing on gynecological problems and all of the patients waiting for us on the bench were women. 

Mazimbu was hosting a team of international medical students and took advantage of Arleigh’s expertise by calling her in to do a bit of teaching in her specialty.  The topic covered procedures for a plural effusion and one of Arleigh’s passions is teaching, so she was delighted by the invitation.

An interesting dynamic developed when Anne, who is an artist, struck up a conversation with one of our patients.  This led to an impromptu sitting for a quick portrait sketch, which delighted both of them.  When Pati saw this tableau, she sat next to the woman and introduced herself as Anne’s daughter.  The woman embraced Pati and declared that Anne was her sister so Pati was her daughter.  A couple of hours later Anne had another woman volunteer for a sitting while her beautiful daughter looked on.  These artistic moments were real ice breakers and created a warm link between the team and our Tanzanian sisters.

A final exciting spot in our day is that our bird watcher, Andrea, spotted a Cordon Bleu, a small, brilliantly colored African bird.  She is just getting us warmed up for the birds we will see when we do our mini safari on our last day.

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