Well it’s been awhile since I sat down and wrote my blog. I have been here now 8 months (which is crazy to think time has gone so fast). We are coming to the end of the rainy season. Every is so green and lush with maize popping up everywhere. In the dry season I always passed lots of random pieces of land with nothing growing there and wondered what they were used for. Then Well it’s been awhile since I sat down and wrote my blog. I have been here now 8 months (which is crazy to think time has gone so fast). We are coming to the end of the rainy season. Every is so green and lush with maize popping up everywhere. In the dry season I always passed lots of random pieces of land with nothing growing there and wondered what they were used for. Then I survived the rainy season a lot better then I expected I had this horrible idea of rain 24/7. But it was not at all that bad and I love the thunder and lighting storms. The sound of the thunder is amazing and the sky fills with lighting coming from all the clouds. I think my Irish blood helps with the rain, when the rain stops the sun always comes out, no cold rain here. I did get these great plastic shoes that helped with all the water. Imagine children's jelly shoes with style. There are so the fashion here and cost around one euro. Zambians got a great kick from the musongo (white person) wearing plastic shoes.
Well now you have had the weather update let me take you back to December and give you an update on the last few months. In December Michelle arrived after a three day trip from Jo’berg through Botswana to Zambia and in true Michelle style had lots of stories to tell. I went to meet her in Livingstone and we had a fun few days in there, Michelle jumped of the bridge – bungee jump and I stood on top more nervous then she was. It is the second high bungee jump in the world. When jumping back on the bus for Lusaka our 8 hour bus journey turned into a 12 hour journey 4 of those spent motionless on the road as a truck had crashed and created a knife jack turn and the trailer had taken up the whole road. The truck was full of bags of flour and so before the truck could be moved off the road all the flour bags were offloaded and then the truck was dragged of the road, all was done in the dark by other motorists that wanted to continue on their journey. So eventually we got back to Kabwe. Christmas then came around very fast, I think I felt slightly Christmassy for one day (though I did decorate my little house with Christmas decoration I receive in parcels and some fairy lights.) One evening my friend Chozmo and her little girl came over for a pre Christmas meal and Lucy and me sat and listened to the Snowman story, which was really nice. On Christmas day Michelle and me woke and opened some pressies then headed to work, Christmas morning 7 am and about 25 degrees very strange. Then we had the nicest morning at work and felt very much like Christmas. We had a little Christmas celebration with first the bible reading then lots of beautiful singing. Put 30 Zambians in a room who have never sung together and the singing and harmonizing is amazing. Then all the patients received a present and had fun with Christmas crackers and hats. Then the staff had another little party with Christmas cake made by Mary. Then a local lodge came and donated Christmas day Lunch for all the staff and patients. Mary and Michelle and I then headed to Mary’s neighbor and had a big Christmas dinner. It was so great to have Michelle to share Christmas in Zambia. For News Years a few of us from Kabwe all headed to Lake Kariba in Southern Zambian and camped by the lake for a few days. Had a funny New Years trying first to find a good party and all the parties were boring and full of white farmers, so in the end we had to just make our on fun, which we did and we got to watch the New Year sun raise over the Lake. Lake Kariba is a man made lake created in the 1950s with the building of a dam on the Zambezi river. It is now 5,200km2 and very beautiful. The lake is between Zambia and Zimbabwe and sadly like many of these big dams when it was built there was the displacement of thousands of people, rumor has it that you can still hear bells from on of the villages ringing. It does though now provide fish for the locals to sell. January saw the end of Mary’s time in Hospice. Mary set the hospice up 6 years ago when her and her husband had come here to retire on a farm, Mary got bored and opened the hospice. She has now moved back to Ireland to spend time with and family and get her well deserved retirement. Gabriel is now the coordinator of the hospice he has worked in the children’s centre as a social worker for two year, he Zambian. He is really good and motivated. We all miss Mary (especially me) but everyone is keeping her work alive and the hospice is working well with full beds. This January I complied stats from the hospice for the last year. In 2008 we had 304 admissions to the hospice, of those 91 died. Of those 91 deaths 53% of the patients were already taking ARV’s (Treatment people living with HIV/AIDS take) this shows that even though ARV treatment is very important for a person living with HIV/AIDS is not the only thing. Poverty is still a huge problem in Zambia and without adequate nutrition it is very hard to adhere to ones treatment, as the drugs are very strong, people are still dying of poverty, HIV/AIDS is just speeding up the process. Before medication in the hospice we focus on nutrition. And through good nutrition, medication and care and support we have many success stories and high percentage of patients are discharged in good health and happy excepting their status so they can live positively. One of our aspects is terminal and palliative care but the other side of care is Return to Life Care. We have amazing stories where patients come with CD4 counts as low as 1 (this means they have no immune system what so ever – a healthy person has a CD4 count of 1000) and after a few months in the hospice are able to go home and continue living life. Those are the stories that keep me going on the hard days. In January my cousin and her friend came to stay for a month and a half. They worked in the children’s centers and street children’s centre. It was great having Alie here, we have spent all our childhood summers playing together so it is nice now to hangout as adults. Alice and I spent a fun day in the local market picking out a dress and shoes for the Paddies Day ball, which is in March and organized by the Irish Embassy. Big fancy ball so I had to get some appropriate clothing. Well I bought a lovely dress for 10 euros and my high heels in between the chickens and fruit and veg for 6 euros!! So cheap cheap but really great! Everyone in work had great fun watching me totter around in my new shoes. They were all amazed that I could walk in them or even that I would wear them, they are not used to a glamorous Siobhan. Yesterday I first watched my first Six Nations match since I have been here and my friends got to see the crazy rugby fan I turn into with lots of screaming at the screen. It was great fun and good to fill the beating heart and adrenaline that comes with watching rugby (well for me) Ok enough for now. I will try and keep this more updated!!!! Love Siobhan