Monday, January 11, 2010

Jan. 11th, 2010

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” –Maya Angelou

Though many days here in Pommern have been eye-opening, heart-wrenching and emotional, today was the most intense so far for me. The day began with the news at the clinic that one of the women we had been checking on for the last week passed away this morning. Sam, Kayli and I observed the preparation of the body for removal to her home village, which was indescribable. I had been forewarned that emotions are not displayed the same way as they are in the United States and that was absolutely apparent today. Many family members weren’t openly emotional until they were driving away in the trailer with the body and began to wail. This was the most heart-breaking part of the process to watch and hear. This experience was a real display of the cultural and medical differences between here and back home.

Sam and I spent the rest of the morning seeing patients, including quite a few VERY pregnant women, while Kayli joined Jennie, Greg and Ben down at the headmaster’s house. It sounds like the framing of the new kitchen door has been going well and the camaraderie with some of the local workers and neighbors for tea has been wonderful. Marcia got to teach a class on directions and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the video of the students singing “head, shoulders, knees and toes.”

Lunch was the great chips and eggs and we yet again welcomed some afternoon rain despite Edward’s morning sunshine predictions. But once the rain stopped and the threat of jiggers was over, Edward took Ben and us girls down to the public primary school, where we met the head teacher and second teacher and thoroughly embarrassed Toni in front of his friends. Starting Wednesday (because tomorrow is Zanzibar Revolution Day), a couple of us will be helping out in the primary school classrooms each day.

The girls then ventured to the Roman Catholic Internet, which was unfortunately down again (hopefully Wednesday) and then to a pub for our first Safari Lager! Negotiating prices was a challenge as the shopkeeper didn’t speak any English and our “translator” was not doing the greatest job, but we enjoyed our time, including meeting an adorable 9-year old, Joshua. Marcia and Greg took a walk around town and we all played with some local girls before dinner, including a rousing performance of “YMCA” including arm gestures. I think they thought we were a little crazy, but it definitely made them laugh and smile, which is worth losing a little of out dignity.

Dinner was an amazing pizza-like creation by Mama Toni and we were graced by the presence of Pommern Secondary School headmaster, Shadrach, who explained the Tanzanian 7-4-2-3 school system in a little more depth.

Though today was a hard day and not one I will soon, or ever, forget, it has made all the difference to have my amazing team members by my side, whether to talk and listen or just for a much-needed bear hug!