September 2015

The first month in my new village kept me super busy. Meeting every single person that I possibly could within my catchment area (it extends into 6 different zones, with a total population of approximately 5,400 people), figuring out what my work schedule would be and what projects I wanted to focus on and do within the next two years, hosting countless introductory presentations, and working diligently with home improvements to make my new home more me.

The majority of my work as a Health Extension Agent is centered around the local rural health centre (they like their “e’s” after their “r’s” here): Lubilo Health Centre. At this level, I support the centre with their day to day health programs and services, but I also play a role as an ambassador for the centre on the district level to the District Health Office (DHO) in town (about 15km away). Yes, politicking exists on the community health frontier even in Africa. On the other end of the stick, at the community, village, and household levels, I serve as a trainer, outreach worker, and teacher, working with various community groups, village stakeholders, and families on their health needs. I’ve nailed down my work schedule for the rest of the year, but when 2016 comes, it’s back to the table for project and program planning. It shouldn’t be too much of a hassle, since many projects and programs will carry over into the new year, but in order to stay engaged and motivated, adding a new project or program here and there is a definite must for me, as it always was back in the states. Here’s what I’m doing in Africa each day of the week, along with some pictures:

Monday: Community & Outreach Work, Young Adults’ Income-Generating Activities Group

Tuesday: Under 5 Clinic, Girls’ Grassroots Soccer Program

Wednesday: Family Planning Clinic, Computer Literacy Program, Youth Club

Thursday: Antenatal Clinic, Computer Literacy Program, Girls’ Grassroots Soccer Program

Friday: Community and Outreach Work, Boys’ Grassroots Soccer Program, Tutoring Services

Saturday: Boys’ Grassroots Soccer Program, Tutoring Services

Sunday: Church, R&R

My commute to work everyday; traffic sucks.

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Welcome to Lubilo Health Centre!

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Biohazard and placenta waste area; yummy!

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Our Zambulance; super high-tech.

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Alogirthms exist in Africa!

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My main work counterpart, Mr. Justin Mupila

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My Youth Club at Kamabuta Basic School

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Another one of my counterparts, Mr. Emmanuel Kainda, helping with Youth Club

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Home life was definitely a learning process during the first month. Learning where and how to collect water, figuring out how to get there and how to get here, putting to practice the skills I learned during Pre-Service Training from my first host family (fire-making, killing animals, cooking, clothes washing, house maintenance, etc.), getting accustomed to a new host family, and fixing numerous things with my house, trying to make the place more comfortable and more suiting for me. I was able to build a new tippy-tap hand-washing station, create new hanging curtains for my standing shelves and desks, make outdoor hanging curtains for my outdoor shower and bathroom (squatting privacy is a must, folks), and rake the expansive stretch that is my front yard (you have no idea how many leaves I’ve raked thus far; it’s pretty impressive). This by no means makes home improvement complete. October yields plastering, lime coating, and painting the exterior of my entire house and doing something about the interior design of my two-room house. But first, supplies need to be bought and collected and elbow grease needs to be recruited. Stay tuned!

My new host family are the Kalozas. Ba’Taata Kaloza is a very stern and serious man, laughing only when absolutely necessary, but you know from talking to him that he truly cares about his family and their protection is his utmost priority. He’s a farmer by profession, farming maize, sweet potatoes, and Irish potatoes. My goal is to one day crack a joke so funny, he cries from laughing so hard. Wish me luck! Ba’Maama Kaloza is motherly and sweet. She comes to my door every morning to wish me a good morning and safe travels for my day. The occasional lunch or dinner invite from her is always appreciated; her cooking is great! Whenever I go to the market, I always make it a point to pick something up for her, and I think she really appreciates it. She likes reading my journal entries, and just like my mom back home, she likes staring at photographs for long periods of time with a huge smile on her face. I really don’t get it, but to each her own! My siblings, from first-born to last-born: Naomi (28), Makina (25), Memory (21), and Jordan (17). Naomi and Memory are both mothers to their own respective son; Kelvin to Naomi and Kaomba to Memory. Kelvin is 9 years old and Kaomba, just a little over a year old. Makina is off in the provincial capital, Solwezi, playing a tune to his own beat and finding himself since his exam scores weren’t what Ba’Taata desired. I give him two more months before he comes home. Memory fared better with her exams, granting her interviews for teaching gigs. We’re all crossing our fingers she lands one of them. And Jordan, Grade 11, helps with the family here and there while preparing for his exams next year. Jordan and I hang out pretty much everyday; cool kid, reminds me of my brother Raymond at home a lot. I also have a host cousin who stays on our compound, Benson (18). Benson is a super hard-worker and has been the biggest help to me in terms of my home improvement needs. Where he helps me with home improvements, I help him with his studies. His exams are coming up mid-October through December. We’re hoping for the best.

In terms of getting around from place to place, I’ve been biking a lot. I mean, A LOT. All this exercise is great, but boy, does my butt hurt at the end of the day. Ice-packs don’t magically appear, no matter how hard you try to summon them either. Sucks.

All in all, a good first month, figuring things out. Looking forward to what the rest of Community Entry has in store for me, ice-packs or not.

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