Monday, February 22, 2010
sick kids and home visits
Friday was pretty busy. I started off at the hospital with one of the boys to have his skin checked (he goes every month to get a new prescription) and we waited for about five hours before seeing the doctor. Then we went back to Amani just in time for lunch when all of the kids swarmed the health room for medicines and band-aids. I was super hungry so I made them all leave and told them to come back after lunch. Halfway through lunch, when I was in my Swahili lesson one of the teachers came and got me because one of the boys got kicked and was bleeding and really upset. While I was tending to that boy another one came in and had a mango stuck in his throat, he was breathing though and able to talk but I couldn’t understand what he was trying to say (because of my lack of Swahili) so I asked Chelsea, another American volnteer to come talk to him. She gave him some water and he started throwing up. He said that the mango still felt like it was stuck in there and was really upset about it but he was breathing fine and hopefully the uncomfortable feeling went away by the end of the day. Then four or five of the boys had really high temoeratures. One was 103.5 degrees Farenheit. We sponged them with cool water and gave paracetamol and brought the fevers down slightly but they were still pretty sick by the time I left to go home. A group of us went out on Friday night to a place with a rooftop bar and met up with some of my co-workers and other people that are volunteering in Moshi. It was fun. But after being at the bar I always want to eat a lot of food when I get home…it is difficult to do here though. I usually end up with ants crawling all over my hands and jelly dripping down my arms. It was definitely a fun night though.
I took Saturday pretty easy because I was not feeling great. Four new girls arrived at the hostel and two are staying in the room with Laura and I. They all seem really sweet.
Sunday I went with two of the men that are staying at the hostel (one is Tanzania and one is American) and I went to their projects with them to see what they did. They work with a group called Jipo Moyo which is a support and educational group for women (and a couple of men) with HIV/AIDS or other illnesses (although some members are not sick. The two men from the hostel do home visits for the members that are ill and the man from Tanzania does the translating for the American. The American man is HIV positive himself but is doing extremely well and is really healthy right now…in fact he has run in 6 marathons since his diagnoses. So he basically serves as inspiration for many of these women that see HIV as a death sentence…he also helps them realize the importance of taking their ARVS correctly.
We went to three different houses in a village area of Moshi which was really interesting to see. There were children playing everywhere and women outside doing laundry etc it was cool to see a community that is so close to where I am staying that I did not even know existed. Anyway…the first home we went to was really nice and we went inside and talked to the lady there for a bit. She is one of the members that does not have HIV but she was just getting over malaria and typhoid. The next home we went to was to see a woman who has HIV and about three weeks ago had a hysterectomy because she was having very heavy bleeding. The woman looked like she was in extreme pain and she told us that her staples were removed but now she is having pain and pus is coming out of one area of the wound. She also was having fevers and feeling ill so she went to a clinic a day before and was diagnosed with malaria. Before we left the two men from the hostel gave her a bag of sugar and a bag of rice. She was extremely thankful that they stopped by. The next home we went to was of a 30 something man that had cerebral syphilis and had been bed ridden for the past two years. He is also HIV positive. Amazingly enough he was able to sit up when we arrived and he was so happy to see that the two guys had come back to visit him. He had a physical therapist that came to see him but had not been in a while and nobody was sure why they had stopped showing up. He was standing at one point but said that he has been too weak to stand recently. The men brought him sugar and rice and also newspaper articles about football (soccer). I think they are going to try to find him a walker so that he can start to get some strength in his legs and get moving around a bit.
It was truly amazing to see how much the visits meant to these people. In Tanzania the government pays for ARV’s but only if your T Cell count is below 200. So basically you don’t start taking the medications for HIV/AIDS until you are very sick but for some people even though they start late it is able to do amazing things but I still don’t understand why they can’t just start taking the drugs right away.
Anyway it was really interesting to follow the two guys around and I would love to go back and do it again.