On Jan 2, I worked in the morning since it was a holiday here and then in the afternoon headed for Harare with Major, his wife Patience and his daughter Carolyn and son Michael.
We were able to meet up for a few minutes with Dr. Jono Mbangani, from Australia and his brother Desmond from Botswana and see them after many years away. Dr. Mbangani was our doctor here from 2002-2005 before they moved to Australia. He and his wife Eva recently lost their oldest son in November this year due to a freak accident. They had planned this trip home to see relatives before this accident and so it was a hard trip home for them. We were happy to see Dr. Mbangani and talk for a few minutes before they left and we left as we were on our way to the airport.
At 0105 a.m. on January 3 Major, Patience and Carolyn and I boarded an Ethiopian Airlines jet and headed off on a 1 week vacation. Michael was suppose to join us but had to go to South Africa to write some exams at the last minute. We flew to Addis Ababa and then transferred to fly to Zanzibar, Tanzania.
We arrived about 2 p.m. the same day and headed for our hotel in Stonetown. We had kept our destination a surprise from Patience and Carolyn and so they were so excited. We checked in and then went for a walk to the ocean--2 blocks away. We dipped our feet into the Indian Ocean and just enjoyed a fish dinner at an outside eating place on the beach to watch the sun go down. Then we walked back to the hotel and slept right away having missed a night of sleep.
The next day after breakfast we headed out for a spice tour. Known as the Spice Island of Tanzania they grow many spices. We enjoyed seeing black pepper, vanilla, cardimon, cinammon and many different spices and fruits to taste. Then we went on a 45 minute boat ride to Prison Island and saw the big land turtles and went swimming off the Island before returning to our hotel about 5 p.m.
We went out that evening to the square by the ocean where every night vendors sell dinner. They have shrimp on a stick, chipati, samosas and meat and potatoes and we just bought a little of this and that to try and it was delicious with the different spices they use there. It was an easy 15 minute walk back to our hotel.
The next morning we went on a walking tour of the city with our guide. We enjoyed seeing the markets, the old houses, House of Wonders and had some time to shop.
At 1 p.m. they came and picked us up to go to the East Coast of the Island where we had 5 nights in Matemwe. We stayed in a bungalow right near the ocean with a pool also. They had wonderful food and we just spent the next 5 days relaxing, sleeping, reading, eating and walking in the ocean and on the shore. We went out snorkeling one morning and all of the Mereki's eventually got in the water--they don't swim so it was quite a deal for them and big entertainment for the boat including our boat driver!
We had internet at the dining room there so we caught up on our internet, I read 4 books on my Kindle and just enjoyed being by the ocean with wonderful weather and warmth. We slept with an air conditioner and fans on and no blankets!
Major entertained himself with all the vendors who tried to sell him things and he couldn't understand their English! We went one day for a massage with coconut oil and Carol got Henna done on her hand!
On our way back we had a night in Addis Ababa and when we got off the plane the cold hit us! They are in the Northern Hemisphere and it was winter cold! We got to our hotel and jumped into bed with blankets! The next morning we left for the airport at 0700 and it was about 40 degrees--we were freezing!! We had lightweight sweaters and sandles on!
We arrived home about 1 p.m. Wednesday and after some grocery shopping headed for our next destination--exotic Chidamoyo-ha!
We have had 2 busy days at work and lots of rain. Last night we had over 3 inches in 24 hours with heavy rain during the night. On Thursday we tried to get to our vaccination clinic and ART clinic at Batanai and couldn't get across the flooded river, so had to send the car again today and do it a day late! Amazingly our electricity has stayed on throughout the heavy rains. We had over 6 inches in the week were gone, so crops are looking good. I guess we are trying to compete with Northern CA and all the rain they have received this week and flooding too!
Major heads back to Harare today to pick up a new guest arriving from Australia. Hopefully I can get some wash out and get it dried if it doesn't rain!!
Yesterday (Saturday) 20 of us from the hospital headed out to Mukowe (1 1/2 hours away) at 7:30 a.m. for a Gala to encourage the people in the area to be tested for HIV. Our 2 doctors, nurses and counsellors and nurse aides came.We had a theme of "Start the New Year Right--Know Your Status!" We went with 5 cars and our tractor and trailer!
We offered HIV testing and also Male Circumcision (which decreases your chance of getting HIV and helps to decrease Cervical Cancer in their partners) and blood pressure checks. We set up in the classrooms for the circumcisions and for the testing and counseling.
We started with Health Education and we had a lot of questions and answers for prizes. We also had soccer matches for the men and netball matches for the women. The band got people up and dancing and they all really enjoyed the day. We estimate about 400 people came.
We tested over 300 new people and only a few were positive--so we were happy for that. We did 30 circumcisions. We gave prizes to the winning teams and were exhausted when we headed for home at 6 p.m.
The staff had a great time and want to do it quarterly. The people had a great time and benefited from services we brought to them instead of waiting for them to go to clinics which are far away.
We want to make this a quarterly activity and reach some of the far away and hard to reach places for people in our area.
People dancing to the band
Band and the dancers
The crowd for the prize giving
First prize for soccer team included uniforms and balls and trophy
We finally had the long awaited opening of our beautiful new Waiting Mother's Shelter on Thursday morning.
The Shelter was built over 6 weeks starting in December 2015 and ending the end of January 2016. We had a few finishing touches to do and put in electricity, get beds and mattresses and paint. We finally got it all done and then planned the important ceremony to get it opened!
We had our Minister of Parliament, the Honorable Dr. Gandawa, as well as chief Dandawa and many of our local Headmen and the community. As would have it we started the ceremony and immediately we had torrential rain! We quickly moved to the veranda of our OPD clinic and with the rain pounding the tin roof we heard some of the words spoken!!
We went for a lovely lunch and waited for the rain to let up and then returned for the Waiting Mothers now here to sing and put on a skit about how important it is to deliver in a hospital--not home!
The Chief officially cut the red ribbon and then everyone toured the new facility. Everyone was so impressed and so thankful for this new building for our pregnant mothers. It looks like we may have even more deliveries because the mom's are so happy to be in that building after crowding in the 2 small buildings we used to have.
We are so thankful to Lake Union Crew in Seattle Washington and all who came to build it and they provided all the material and work with money they raised. A BIG Thank You to Ann and Rome who were the supervisors. It is something to treasure for us!!
Dignitaries at the opening with the Waiting Mothers Shelter behind
Community that came for the celebration
Major and I speaking
Crowding in to the OPD veranda during the rain
Chief Dandawa speaking
Lunch in the new Hospital Dining Room
Pregnant moms doing their play
District Medical Officer and Chief and Dr. Gandawa cutting ribbon
Touring the new building
ANC care will be given in the new building and this is one of the exam rooms
Pregnant women singing and dancing before they moved into the new room