I have created this blog for anyone that wants regular updates about my time here in Malawi. I am currently volunteering my time to the Ministry of Hope Crisis Nursery and Orphan Feeding Centers. I am a Neonatal Intensive Care nurse helping to care for the orphaned, abandoned and ill babies of Malawi. I will try to post updates as often as I can. I thank you all for your support and prayers. Please send them to the babies, children, and people of Africa too. I hope in the pictures you are able to get a small idea of what life is like here for me, but mainly the people of Malawi.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Yesterday I didn't arrive until about 10 am which is late when you rise at 6. I spent most of my morning trying to get pictures to post to my blog, but the connection is so slow and my camera is high resolution and those together are like oil and water. So, I was rather frustrated, but I will keep attempting to give you all something to look at. Anyway, it didn't take me long to get my feet wet at the nursery. When I arrived at the nursery it was the usual routine of changing dirty nappies, feeding babies either milk or lukuni phala (porridge) and trying to assess and get to know each of them. So, as the day went on, some volunteers came in the afternoon. As I was speaking with one of them she mentioned her husband was a doctor and he loves to come see the babies. So immediately I perked up and asked her if she could call him to come to see the three babies with the skin blisters and also another one that I was worried about since Chris is still gone. In talking to her I found out that she lives right next to Chris (where I am staying) and knows many of the same people I do here. Funny how connected you can become in such a short amount of time. He came about an hour later and diagnosed the babies with the skin blisters with impetigo, so this morning I went to three pharmacies to get antibiotics for them. Hopefully we will see them improve in the next few days. Then a baby that I was worried about generally looked like he was "checking out". He is a twin, his mother died when he and his brother were 6 weeks old, she was HIV+ but I am not sure if she died from that or something else. He was breast fed for the first 6 weeks which puts him at a much greater risk of being positive. Overall, his eyes are glassy and weighs 9 lbs at 5 1/2 months of age, and just looks ill. He has had poor weight gain, actually a loss in the past week, upper respiratory infections, he was treated for malaria, and the list goes on. So the doctor was actually familiar with this baby which was good because he knew more of the history than I did. So he wanted to get a chest x-ray to rule out Tuberculosis, which brings me to today.
I loaded him up in Chris's truck and took him to the Baylor HIV Clinic (they see only HIV kids). I was hoping he could be seen there because initially he was HIV exposed even though his testing had come back negative. He still could be positive at this point and this is something that we want to rule out for sure. I knew some of the docs from last time and through Chris so that helped my plight with getting him seen there and not at the central hospital. So I found Maria and she saw him right away and got him into the system which is great because it is a really nice facility with American doctors, and free care. So he had another HIV test done today and tomorrow I will take him to the Central Hospital for a chest x-ray. Which I can't even explain what it is like there. I wish I could take a picture of the wards to give you some sort of idea. It is not a place where you would ever want to see your child or loved one. Your chances of dying drastically go up if you are patient there, at least I am convinced.
I did not get to see Mada today as there was a conflict with the schedule and I was busy. I have arranged to pick her up on Saturday and she is going to spend the day with me which will be nice and hopefully not too emotional. I am very excited however!
Interestingly enough, this time I seem to feel more emotional about things than I did last time. Not that I didn't feel it last time, I think I was more in a state of shock and it seemed to hit me more once I had left. I found myself starting to cry when I had this lethargic little baby in my arms at the clinic. Things are so unbelievably sad and unfair. I wish that more could be done. The Malawi government has tightened up even more on adoptions because of recent child trafficking in the villages (similar to what Madonna did in my opinion). I wish that they could see that if they made it easier for people to adopt these orphans then people wouldn't be going elsewhere. The government has to pay for these children as well, so I just don't get it. The number of orphans is escalating each year with the increasing rate of HIV, so this problem is only going to get worse.
At the end of the day I guess all you can do is your best, and some where in all of that, you have to find peace.