Saturday, January 15, 2011

Life in Zimbabwe

Yesterday I went to Harare to conduct an interview for a doctor position at our hospital. We had asked other hospital board members to come and when we greeted each other I quickly discovered we suddenly had new greetings in Zimbabwe. This wasn’t Shona, Ndebele or English this was Zimbabwean! The new greetings go like this…”so we haven’t had ZESA for 10 days now, how about you?” “Yes, we didn’t have much except midnight until 5 a.m. all last week.” “We haven’t had water for 3 days, how about you?” “We have water but it smells like poop, how about you?” “We have water but without ZESA we can’t pump as much from our boreholes and the water table is down so it is not very clear.” “I’ve tried to call you and couldn’t get through.” “Oh our landline hasn’t worked in 2 months because of a storm, try our cell.” “Every time I try to use my cell phone it says network busy, why does everyone overuse the lines!” "How's your road?" Oh it is bad, so much rain and big holes, looks like a river bed all the way to Chidamoyo now!" "Yes, we got stuck at a river going home the other day for 4 hours!" We spend the first 5-10 minutes of greetings comparing ZESA , water, roads and telephone horror stories and then we can settle down to work!
Then we had to buy suture and so talked to the guys (middlemen) on the phone and they said they would meet me and bring some for me to see and buy. We met at an ice cream place in Avondale shopping center and used their table. The guys pulled the suture out of their unmarked backpack and I examined each one, negotiated the price and gave them the money. Our deal was done and we each went on our way. It quickly occurred to me this was like making a drug deal in public. Who really buys suture this way? Only in Zimbabwe!
The next stop was to go to the flea market to return some DVDs that I had bought earlier that didn’t work well. I went to my supplier and told him they didn’t play well and told him” if I couldn’t trust pirates who could you trust in this world?” He quickly apologized and gave me new ones that he “promised” were good. He also personally recommended some new ones for me. A personal NetFlick consultant—what more can you ask for in Zimbabwe?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Happy New Year

We have been in the New Year for almost 2 weeks and life continues on. We are having good rains and the crops are growing well. We are so thankful for all the wonderful people who gae gifts to the hospital in December. We went from being in the red to ending the year in the black--wow--how did that happen! People were so generous to us.

Because of the rains we have had a few easier days at the hospital. You will notice us working on a jigsaw puzzle I got for Christmas! No one could resist walking by and adding a piece. I put it outside my office on the veranda. Today the 2 doctors, Lori and I finished it!

We are so blessed to get a new small CD4 machine that can do a CD4 in 20 minutes, so we have been busy testing people and starting so many more people on drugs. We are thankful for the organization that provided it. Also we have a group that is sponsoring renovations to our AIDS/counselling center. We are so thankful for these international donors that have chosen us to help!

We are in another ZESA blackout--literally! Going on 6 days and no electricity. The good rainy season is knocking out our power constantly and results in many days "waiting" for ZESA to find the problem and then fix it. Since December 1st we haven't had 7 days with electricity sometime during the day! We are happy the crops look good. Unfortunately the rain has brought a lot of lightening and we have had 2 people who arrived dead due to lightening strikes and several who have been burnt. One who died was a mom holding her 6 week old baby who survived without a touch of lightening while her mom was struck dead.

Hope you guys are keeping warm--have been hearing of bad storms throughout the US from floods to blizzards--makes me happy to be in summer here!