Monday, August 24, 2009

T.I.A., for sure.

So, I've been here a week, and things have been interesting. When I arrived in Mthatha, at just about 8AM local time last Monday, I got to meet my host and new boss, Mrs. Jenny McConnachie, who quickly whisked me away to Itipini, and the clinic (shown left), where I began working. However, after 2 days of flights and little sleep (I've never slept well on planes) I crashed within an hour.
Fortunately, I got over jet lag over the next day-day-and-a-half, and was then driving about in what must be described as the most terrifying experience ever. No horror film, roller coaster ride, or other experience could have prepared me for this sort of driving, on the wrong side of the road (from my perspective) and the total lack of regulation, and blatant ignorance of what there is. I must say, that by far has been the most frustrating thing so far.

Xhosa lessons will be starting next week, so maybe I'll be able to say more than "molo" (hello) and the typical quick phrases one learns so quickly. Again, fortunately, I'm able to get most anywhere with the use of English, but it quickly gives me away as a total foreigner. No one seems to mind though, and fortunately, most people I've come across so far have been quite pleasant and friendly. There have been exceptions, but it's been mostly on the road, as I eluded to above.

The job I do at the clinic mostly involves filling prescriptions and registering patients, so far. I'm well aware that I will be doing more and more as times goes on. There's a small class of young folk I get to help with English a couple of nights a week, and I've promised them a movie night in the not too distant future. I have yet to start micro-loan work, and have only had to drive people home so far, thankfully.

There has been one incredibly distressful experience so far, on my first full day of work, last Tuesday, when a woman brought in a very young baby who'd been given traditional medicine. Very soon the baby and its mother were taken to the hospital, but as we found out the next day, it was to no avail. For what I hope would be obvious reasons, this has been stuck in my mind. That same day, a 17 year old boy was brought in, and it was revealed to him that he needs testing for HIV/AIDS. The poor guy was shaking when he left.

More places on earth have much worse problems than Itipini, but still, having come here from a very happy and healthy America, by comparison, I've stepped into the third world, but not just for a week or a month, but far at least a year. I spent the rest of that week happily going about what now seem fairly mundane tasks in life at the clinic in Itipini, but that first full day set the frame for the rest of my time here. Reality, I'm afraid, is much more real than one anticipates or envisions from afar. Sounds daft, I know, but I've found that to be true all too quickly.

But, I've really been enjoying myself so far, and I'll tell you more and more in coming days and weeks and months. For now, though, I think I'm ready for dinner!

Have a blessed day.

Friday, August 14, 2009

One more day to go...

Well, the time is nigh. I've managed to finally get a camera, so this whole thing will look a bit more appealing once I hit the ground Monday. I'm doing my last minute packing, the last good-byes have been done at church, and I'm mostly ready.

I apologize for never having written much so far, that's due mostly to the fact that I'm very very busy, even on break at home. When I do find time to do this I'm being pushed to get going usually, and on top of that I have dial-up at home. So, soon, I hope that there will be a blossoming of my posts, both more (a few at least) and longer, and again, with picture.

I get to spend two days in a plane or airport soon. Pray that I get through that with my sanity.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Two weeks until I'm still in the air...

Two weeks from today I'll be in the middle of a 18 hour flight from Washington Dulles to South Africa. Wow time flew by, it's almost time to go. Now I've got to get a few last things in order, and then I'll be all set.

More to come, as usual.