Monday, October 17, 2011

Ethiopia - Day 3 Akake

Monday was similar to Sunday in that we spent a lot of the day travelling.  We made a short visit to the Akake boarding school as we made our way back home from Shashemene.  At Akake, we saw around 50 kids.  This clinic was a bit more of a challenge, as it was an open air, uncovered affair. 

Pharmacy from a bag

The set up at Shashamene was outside but underneath the covering of an amphitheater.  Akake had nothing but trees to offer protection.  It proved a bit difficult this time around as there was no triaging area.  The kids were coming to us without as much information as we’d had yesterday, so we sometimes had to weigh kids to get the correct dosing for medications.  I’m working with Beth again in the pharmacy, and to help her as much as I can, I’m trying to pull out the medicines she needs but am not worrying over the amount to give them.  However, with limited space, the only place to put them is on top of the medicine chest.  This area only holds so many things, and with the wind blowing, we find ourselves chasing papers more often than we’d like to. 

Luckily, on the whole, these kids are healthy, and it appears as if this school is more expensive than the school at Shashamene.  The kids wear blue and white uniforms and many of them speak at least a little English. 

Funny, not so funny story - towards the end of clinic, one of the Eggum team members comes up to me and shows me a packet of pills, asking me if I know what they are.  Looking at the packet it’s obvious.  The 6 tablet packet of Mebendazole has been handed out to each patient that is seen, regardless of diagnosis, to treat parasites.  This packet is distinctly different though – it’s empty.  The kids are being instructed to take one tablet with us, then other one tonight, following every day with one pill in the morning and one in the evening for 3 days (when the pills are gone).  Clearly something got lost in translation.  Beth consults her phone and discovers that, luckily, the worst that will happen is this kid will get terribly physically ill for a while.  Poor guy.

Once we got back to the Guest House, Beth and I stepped out on the balcony to survey the view. 

Our house looked directly into the school yard of the private school across the street, South West Academy.  There were some kids outside the school yard wall playing a game in the dirt of the street.  While we could never figure out the object, it involved tossing a marker of some sort while perched atop another player like a horse.  Inside the wall, there were a few kids waiting to be picked up.  They found great pleasure in yelling at us, asking us if we were Americans and calling us beautiful ladies.  One kid got a kick out of sticking his tongue out at us.  They were cute kids, and seemed to be well taken care of.  Green uniforms were required for school and one of the parents was very well dress as she came to pick up her son.  It seems that school in Ethiopia is free but uniforms are required and must be purchased.  The option of education is there but a lot of families cannot afford to pay for the uniforms so their kids do not attend school.

I also wanted to spend some time making some cultural notes.  Seemingly trivial things that I don’t want to forget, like Coke is called Coka and they serve it warm.  Although each time I ordered it in restaurants, it did come out cold.  The coffee is bitter without sugar but it’s normally served with sugar I think (the two times I had it I had it served once with and once without sugar). 

When driving, one faces many obstacles.  Not only are there no working traffic lights (we did see some in Greater Addis but they were not working), but traffic often gets close enough that a misplaced hand could spell disaster.  Livestock often crosses the road at inopportune times, requiring some quick thinking behind the wheel.  One will often see sheep, cows, horses, goats, yaks, and donkeys just standing in the middle of the highway testing fate.  Horn honks on the road can mean many different things.  Most often, however, they do not mean “You're a jerk” like they do in the US.  It’s more often a “Hey, I’m coming up beside you to pass, don’t change lanes” or “Hey pedestrian, don’t cross right now." 

This area is also a no-flush-TP culture.  Actually, both times we were in the Addis air port, there wasn’t even TP in the bathrooms.  You’ll often see people, mostly men, peeing on the side of the road, although most make the decision not to face traffic.  We did, however, see one woman utilizing nature in the middle of a busy intersection on our way to the Post Office district to shop one day.

Tomorrow is our first day of clinic in Korah.  Lots to do!

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