Thursday, November 23, 2006

Day 344

Today I lost my US sim card for my cell phone. Well actually today I realized that somewhere in the last year I have misplaced my US sim card. For the most part of the year I was really good about putting this tiny little chip in my eyeglass case or in an altoid box or in any random box. Now that I have cleaned my room and packed my clothes I can not find it anywhere. I believe that the last time I saw it I put it in the altoids box which I threw in the trash on Monday. So today at lunch I went home, put on some gloves and dug through the maggot infested trash to no avail. Naomi our housekeeper and Asarimi our guard were laughing at me when I would yell out, ‘this is SO gross!’ It is definitely time to leave when I am now digging through the trash.

So basically I was all excited to call all of you when I get home, but I can not because I do not have any phone numbers. Please if you find the time send me an email with your phone number so I can put it into my new sim card when I get one.
Four days and counting!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Day 351

Eight days and counting! This week I have started the hand-over with Sharifa (from Wisconsin) and it is going well. I was happy to hear her say she was a bit over-whelmed solely for the reason that it reassured me that when I was overwhelmed last year it was completely normal.

We have opened Nketa clinic a bit over two weeks ago and put 103 patients on treatment so far. It is a fast start to the clinic, and will not continue in that manner but it was nice to end the mission on a high note like that.

This Saturday is a party at the house to say good-bye to myself along with our logistician, Brice who is leaving on the 5th of December. We invited the entire office and a few friends, which will be nice. Last year at this time it was my going to Africa party in DC when I actually started this blog……strange how quickly time goes by.

I have still not heard anything from the Clinton Foundation and maybe I should actually apply for more than just one job. You know, increase the odds of actually getting a job. I never did like that adage ‘don´t put all your eggs in one basket.’ Who would carry more than one basket of eggs anyway?!

I am practicing my Spanish and so far I have learned to ask for the luggage locker (at the airport), ask how much the luggage locker is, tell someone I am really hungry, and say my name is Nancy Dunphy. Extremely useful for next week in my opinion, however, maybe not so useful for trying to communicate in Spanish at any other moment in time.
Missing you all!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Day 341

So in three weeks I will be back in the states, at home. Hopefully I will be eating some pizza and having a Miller lite. Oh the simple pleasures in life!

These past few weeks have been action packed and heart warming! Last weekend I went back up to Victoria Falls to raft the Zambezi again. It was amazing! At one point our guide told us that the next rapid was the largest commercial drop in the world. When I asked him what that meant he told me that it was the largest drop in a rapid that is rafted for tourism. Yeah, I got the full brunt of that drop when I was holding on to the life line around the boat and felt myself suspended from it than just gave in to the Zambezi and got caught up in the rapid only coming to the surface a few feet from the boat, but it felt like I should have been much farther away, like in the Atlantic . Luckily, or not so lucky I should say, I was the only one in our boat that feel out on that rapid.

On the heart warming side we finally opended the HIV clinic! This week we put 51 patients on ARV treatment. One lady came into the consultation and said, 'I am so happy that you are finally open, and I am not dead yet!' I had to laugh because if I really thought about her comment I might cry. Everyone was so happy to be there, including me! My replacement comes on Sunday and I start my two week hand-over on Monday. Yikes, I do not even know what to say about leaving. I do know that I am thrilled about coming home though.
See you all soon!!!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Day 333

Today was a wonderful day! First of all the city clinic finally opened! I was not there for the first day because I was in Tsholotsho doing a few presentations for their HIV training week, but the doctor I work with was and she said it went pretty smoothly.
So after months of waiting we are finally going to be able to provide more people with the treatment that they so desperately need.
Secondly, I got an email from my brother saying how he forwarded my resume to the Clinton Foundation and by doing that fast-forwarded the application process and I will absolutely get an interview. This has been a good day.
On Wednesday I received the confirmation of my flight back states-side and I will arrive on the 1st of December into Newark. I can not believe that I only have about 25 days left in Zimbabwe. I spend about 3 days in Barcelona doing debriefings and then make the last leg of the trip on the 1st.

It is a good day, now only if I could sleep. The heat (which is over 90, and still hot at night) lately has been making it unbearable. See you all soon!!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Day 324

Today was another schizophrenic day in Zimbabwe. I laughed this morning at a man that was telling me about his toothache and how he thought the tooth would probably need to be pulled…..¨you know sister, I have had other teeth pulled,¨ he said smiling a wide grin full of about 6 intact yellow teeth. ¨Yes, I can see that,¨ I responded.

Then this afternoon I spent hours in a meeting making the final preparations for the new clinic only to be told that 126 patients had been identified with their CD4 counts done. Three on the waiting list had already died, 3 more had CD4 counts of 1 (normal with no HIV is about 800 – 1500) waiting for the Ministry to approve the opening of the clinic. My heart broke imagining the people excited that they finally got on a list for HIV treatment and to wait while beaurocrats (sp?) slowed their only hope at life. While we were in the meeting one patient called to check on whether they could come to the clinic for treatment yet. Augh!
This part of my job is so infuriating.

The patients are wonderful, no teeth and all, but the policy makers are so out of touch with the situation that they do not realize one day means lives that could have been saved.

The sky on the other hand was like the Simpsons episodes, full of big clouds and clear blue as far as the eye could see. It is beautiful. See you all in 6 weeks.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Day 314

In the middle of the week I was working in the office when I heard some people outside yelling and looking up at the sky. The sun had almost a reverse eclipse look and there was a ring around the sun so large it looked like it took up the whole sky. One of my friends told me he heard that this either meant really good rains or war. Brigitte, one the doctors in the project had seen this years ago in Rwanda, and I asked her if it was before the war, and she thought back and figured it was about 6 months before the genocide happened. I am hoping for the rain, although I do not see an end to the >1000% inflation and mismanagement of govern without some type of civil unrest.

The rest of the week again found me carrying box A from place A to place B. Managing the pharmacy is not something that I am ever going to miss. On Friday I was so filthy after moving boxes that I had dirt streaks on my face and my hands looked like I was more of a native African than a pale pasty Irish-Polish mix from the US.
I am in the hunt for gifts for family and friends and feeling the pressure of our horrible per diem change last month. We used to get the per diem in US dollars and changed it on the unofficial market so we really did not feel the inflation so much. Now our per diems are frozen because the are over double what the lowest salary gets paid. We are getting Zim dollars (46 thousand per week) which are exchanged by the company at a rate of 600 Zim for 1 US. The unofficial market is now changing for 1300 for 1 US. That makes the shopping a bit harder and I have found myself changing the personal money I brought with me from the states. Inflation of this caliber is something I hope not to have to live through again. Our house is no longer buying cheese because it is too expensive and we are all on an unplanned and unwelcome diet. I do exaggerate a bit though, instead of being able to eat out whenever I want to and not worrying about money I am now counting my thousands to make sure I have enough to get through the week.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Day 310

I have gotten used to living MSF style, working long hours, stressing out over drug shipments, having my favorite white bra turned purple in the wash, and all sorts of fun things about sharing a house with 7 other adults that may or may not act like adults. However, my time here is coming to an end soon, a replacement has been found for me. This nurse should arrive in Zim around the 15th of November and I should begin my travel back via Harare – Nairobi – Amsterdam – Barcelona (debriefing) – London – and finally, Philadelphia the last week in November. That puts me in the states well before my birthday!

Of course I am sad to say goodbye to all the friends I have made here, but I feel like I am ready for home.Across the past few weeks I have been doing mostly administrative work, the HIV training week, organizing the pharmacy order, and reviewing the annual plan for 2007 so I have not been close to the patients lately which is probably the one thing that I will miss the most once I leave, actually I am still here and I already miss it.