Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Marching on

Due in part to odd hours of internet access (alas, after midnight is not my favorite time to get online), in part to my own procrastination, it's been quite a spell since the last post from the Calamity Cummings. . . but we're still here, still not deported or fired or any number of things that could happen to us! And we even had our visas renewed in record time last month.

Since i've been asked a few times, yellow fever has affected a few people around our locale. As far as i know, no de novo cases have occurred in Kalukembe, which would be hard since we don't have the right type of mosquito up here (but we do have enough trash around to harbor them if they ever were to migrate!). But other tragedies persist. The lack of tetanus vaccine for more than a month hit home when a local man came in with a leg laceration then later developed tetanus and died last week. It is ironic that with this yellow fever outbreak, you can get the vaccine as you leave the country in Luanda's airport but we still have not had yellow fever vaccines or sufficient hepatitis B, pneumococcus or tetanus vaccines in our province this whole year. . . . Our record number of pediatric blood transfusions for the month of May backed off last month as malaria has "died down," though we now have more children with burns. A nurse was incensed about the negligence of a local woman  who left her small children to watch soap operas at a neighbor's house, then lost them both when the house burned. But every burn patient in our hospital right now is there because family members were away at funerals. Negligence is no new cultural practice with the advent of television.

We are glad for a few successes with small projects here. Priscila's most pleased with trash cans on hospital grounds and clean up of underbrush around outhouses that have reduced general and human waste in unwanted places, respectively. The hospital is now mostly connected via an internal telephone system. It's a new learning curve for students and nurses who have never used landlines before (imagine if we used rotary phones!). And lighting a pathway between student housing and the hospital has already seen an immediate drop in assaults and theft along that path. The electricians will be placing a couple more high output LED lights on the paths in the upcoming days.

The water project continues to move along, albeit slowly. We walked around campus yesterday with the project manager to see where public water taps would be installed, and Eliel tested several grey water systems (i.e., open drainage) by falling into several. A quick fix to our borehole occurred last week when Feliciano, an employee for the project, dislodged a stone inside the pump tubing. We now have an instant pressure increase when water comes to the house. Priscila's even talking about taking a shower. Give that man a raise!

Much more to share, but let's see pictures!

Eliel (with 'school bag') and Zeke (with lasso), sitting comfortably on new benches outside maternity

Note the date: August 24, 1984! Fortunately, this formaldehyde is still good for use :) Priscila's incessant push to clean up led to some fascinating finds in the medicine warehouse. She even came upon a certificate of training completion in leprosy for the founding surgeon. 

Progress on the building that will house solar battery system for a new borehole.

Sister solidarity. Several of our beautiful fistula ladies showing support for each other. Priscila has cared for over 30 women suffering from fistulae this year. Two of our funding sources, the Fistula Foundation and Hope For Our Sisters, allow us to provide free care for these ladies.

Narnia? Hogwarts? This young owl appeared in our living room (via chimney) one morning. Such a small beak, but man are those talons sharp!

Let there be light! Santana and Bernardo, our electrical team, putting up lighting along our path to the hospital. Thanks to your generosity, the nursing students and we have a safer commute at night!

Jamba sporting the new phone communications technique. Yes, gloves and masks required for strict hygienic purposes :)