First, I’m always a bit torn about how to share my experiences abroad. I almost feel a sense of responsibility to protect the people and culture I love so much from misunderstanding and judgement. So I must say before I talk about my experiences, that the lack of development in Africa has nothing to do with the competence and intelligence of its people, but with the political and economic system and the lack of access to education and resources.
My first day in the field was interesting to say the least. I jumped in a truck with a few health workers and headed out to a rural village. Once we reached the village we stopped at every person we passed to say something in Swahili, at first I though we were lost and asking for directions. We were actually driving through the village telling people we were screening and vaccinating pregnant women and children (word of mouth).
We set up shop at a school with a cardboard box full of supplies and the mamas began to show up with their babies. All babies had a health card showing growth progress and were weighed (some rather creatively by grabbing onto the hook of the weight made for hanging things). Vaccinations for worms and polio were given out, pills swallowed without water, shots given with their clothes used as bandages. Women accepting all without complaint or protest, no sense of entitlement.
Some of the woman received shots in their arm and after investigating our box of supplies, I identified the shots as contraceptive. I’m not sure how often these health workers come to this area or how often these women get contraceptive. More so, where do they go if they have a side affect or need help?
The crazy thing about all this was that we passed a brand new Coca Cola factory on the way out of the village. It seems Coke is easier to access than water and we wonder why non communicable diseases are on the rise in Africa? Diabetes surpasses Malaria and other communicable diseases here. Anyway, love what I’m doing and this was just day one!