Day 9 (Wow what a day we had today)

Jambo Friends and Family!

            My name is Sarah Rathbun and I am a junior nursing student at Northwestern College. Today was day 9 here in beautiful Tanzania and we have been blessed beyond words, had more experiences than we could ever imagine, and we are so thankful for this opportunity!

            There are no words to describe what we saw and experienced today. We travelled with a doctor and a nurse from a clinic in Mwansa out into the bush where we conducted an outreach clinic. We were told by Mama Gayle before we even left that we would not be able to bring food, chew gum, or even touch our face for the duration of our time there as prevention measures because we would see things that health professions have not seen after years of practice.

When we left Tudor Village in taxis this morning none of us knew what to expect. We rode by taxi about 20 minutes to a junction where we were to be picked up by a safari vehicle since that was the only way we would be able to reach our location. As a group we were under the assumption that we would have a larger version of the safari vehicles we had on a previous day but we were in for a rude awakening. The vehicle that pulled up had room enough for 9 people at the very most, we had 15 people! As we pulled away after packing in Julius informed us that we still had to pick up the doctor and the nurse so that would make 17 for about a 2 hour ride and saying that the roads were rough would be an enormous understatement. A description of how smashed in there we were would do the experience no justice, but we made it work and had a good time singing and getting to know each other much, much better.

            We pulled up to a small, roughly built brick and concrete building that had two small and one slightly bigger room. The larger room is where we set up a station for vital signs, medication packaging, and a scrubbing station for head fungus cases. The small room was not being used for anything else so that was "the doctor's office". All he was set up with a wooden table and chair. Outside was the check in area where Julius and Paul, Mama Lynn's assistant, interpreted so that two people from our group could write it down the symptoms for the patient to bring with them to the stations. We split into stations and began the day around 10:30.

            We had the patients check in and line up for vital signs to be taken. We had them sit on a wooden bench while we took their blood pressure, pulse, respirations, and listened to lung and heart sounds. Many of the patients were whole families that had come from far and wide with similar symptoms. Many of the patients that didn't even check in were there for fungal infections of their heads- mainly children. We had a station set up just for that where we would scrub there head with a coarse brush to get the scabs off so we could apply the medicine. At this station Mama Gayle also took care of any other skin issues that were presented. The other station in the room with the vitals area was the medication packaging. The nurse that was with us would write on small plastic bags the amount of a drug that would need to be put in there and the dosage of it. She would hand of those bags and the bottle of medication and we would have to count out the number of pills and organize them accordingly so that when a patient came back from seeing the doctor and had an order for medication she could just grab a back.

            We would rotate stations throughout the day, and at one point we were able to go sit in the room with the doctor to see how he went about assessing the patients when they came to him and prescribing medications. We were all very surprised that he would rarely actually look over his patient when they came in, he would look at the paper they had with them that had the signs and symptoms along with the record of the vital signs and prescribe accordingly.

            After about seven hours of funneling patients through the stations and to see the doctor we had a cared for 240 people. That is not counting the children that walked in to simply get their heads examined for fungal infections. We figure combined we saw about 300 people total, which was more than that doctor had ever seen in one day at one of these outreach clinics. Something that was simply amazing was that those people had walked for miles and miles to get to our location to be treated. When I say we saw people young and old, that it is not an exaggeration. The oldest person we treated was 100 years old, which around here is a huge deal! And the youngest being only 2 weeks old. Like I said, there are no words to describe our experience today. We were all, and still are daily, in awe of the different aspects of God's creation.

            As we finished up we could see the rain in the distance, Paul and the doctor urged us be hasty about leaving because if the rains came before we left we would be stuck there. So we packed back into the safari vehicle and began the journey home. About halfway back we dropped the doctor and the nurse off where we had picked them up this morning, still crammed in we were still excited about the extra room! As we continued our journey home Ally had stood up to see outside when she did she turned and asked the "fundy", or mechanic that accompanied us out there, if that was Kilimanjaro she was looking at?! We all laughed because it's been an on-going joke that every mountain we see is Kilimanjaro! He did not speak English but he must have understood the question because when he answered "yes" there was an eruption of excitement from the whole team! We could not get up out of seats fast enough but as we did, there it was in all its glory! It was still cloudy but we could see the very top of it. Someone pointed out that we had prayed last night that we would be able to see it during our stay here and after a long, hard day's work we were rewarded! God moved away the clouds, if only for a couple minutes, so that we could see the top of Mount Kilimanjaro as the sun went down! We had many experiences and laughs together today but there could not have been any better ending to the day!

We cannot thank you all enough for your continued thoughts and prayers as we go about our days here in the beautiful country of Tanzania. God has blessed us beyond words, we all cannot wait to go back and tell you all about our experiences!

Mungu akubariki sana na kwaheri (God bless you and goodbye),

Sarah Rathbun
























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