A typical weekday here starts off around 7am for me. The noises of morning life, animals, and the sunlight filtering into the room draw me out of sleep. I get ready for the day and walk on a red dirt path over to the clinic. If I look to my right, there is a beautiful view of the valley and adjacent hill, sometimes shrouded in morning mist and sometimes glittering with dew in the sunlight.
I head over to the outdoor kitchen and dining area and settle in at the picnic tables. I greet Mama Jackie, the cook, and anyone else who is around. I make a plate of whatever is for breakfast, usually fruit and bread or eggs. They don’t really drink coffee here, so I’ve adjusted to having tea in the morning. I like to sit with my back to the bunk house looking out at the view and enjoy the serenity of the area as I eat.
Around 8:00ish I go to the clinic, which is the next building over. Sometimes I hang out a bit longer with Mama Jackie and help with something she is making. At the clinic, I gather the log books for the different data that is collected and a computer. There’s a little desk with a window that has become my spot. For the next few hours I review patient data from the previous day on the electronic medical records system. I am tracking malaria cases and treatments, demographics for appointments, immunizations, family planning, and types of treatments administered. I log this data into different notebooks that will be used to complete weekly and monthly reports that the clinic is responsible for turning into the Ministry of Health. It’s not difficult, but it is time consuming and repetitive.
The morning is usually broken up by dropping in to visit different people around the clinic and talking with people. The COs (clinical officers, similar to physician assistants) here see patients in the clinic. There are three of them Bridget, Henry and Esther, and they are awesome! I ask them questions all the time and am really enjoying getting to know them. My friends Sylvia and Olivia work in the lab, and Resty works in the pharmacy. John who runs the clinic, checks in patients and is constantly helping out in other areas and engaging with the community. Eddie, the friendly grounds keeper, is always around doing something.
Lunchtime varies depending on how busy the day is. It’s usually ready around 1:15ish, but most of the staff eats around 2. I try to time my lunch to match with everyone else. There is a limited rotation of foods that are served for lunch and dinner. Depending on the day, the meal might consist of various combinations of noodles, rice, beans, cabbage, cooked non-sweet bananas and a very interesting semi-sweet purple g-nut (or ground-nut) sauce.
Lunch is usually a lively time of relaxing and joking around. By 2pm the day has really gotten hot, but usually there is a breeze that offers some reprieve. Sitting at the picnic tables in the shade of the pseudo back porch area of the bunk house is usually one of the nicest places to be. The picnic tables serve as a sort of community gathering place, and people frequent them at all times of the day.
After lunch I hop back to my house and swap out my supplies for clinic work with my own laptop and whatever documentation I am going through for my internship work (I’ll describe my project in a later post). Then I settle in for a few hours of work at the picnic tables. I’m usually joined by a few kids who are curious about my computer or who want to color or play soccer. After getting some work done I usually take some time to play or join in the coloring.
The rest of the afternoon I hang out around the clinic and chat with people or head back to my house to do things. The next few hours are free until dinner around 8:30. I often relax at my house, hang out with people around the clinic, or bring my journal or a book over to the picnic tables. Dinner is usually some combination of lunch left overs and traditional staples (I’ll do an in-depth food post later!). After dinner ends I head home and get ready for bed. The days are full and I’m usually pretty tired by dinner time. If you were wondering what a day looks like for me, that’s pretty much the normal!