Monday April 10th:
Sher left at 9am to take some of the kids to the hospital for extractions and I had an adventure trying to find a shower in the kids area because the one for the volunteers was clogged. When I finally felt clean again, I sat in the common room/lunchroom with the kids, Erica, and Ellen. We found a video of Rahim singing “Hallelujah” acapella and it made Erica cry… it was really honest and from the heart, I even got emotional. Daniel left us today as well (his visa needs renewal so he’ll cross over to Malawi then back) but he’ll be returning in a few weeks to spend more time at The Zion Home before completing his trip.
Erica and Ellen had big plans to go to Mbeya to buy the one whiny cat her special cat food and I decided to join them and look for an African shawl for myself. The style of dress is more conservative here but with the heat, it’s tough to stay cool and covered at the same time. I had so many perfect outfits back in Canada… but I was very limited in packing space so I tried to be versatile in my outfit choices. Plus I thought it would be easiest to buy what the locals wear. After the trip to Mbeya, I had and anatomy lesson planned for the kids and I was actually looking forward to it.
Well, none of that happened! The belly ache that I was having for about two days worsened in the morning and I was hoping that the walk to the village bus stop would help. By the time we got to the bank for Erica to exchange money, I was overwhelmed with pain in my abdomen and I was covered with sweat from fever. The girls were hot as well from the sun and the walk but I could tell I had a definite fever. I had to sit down and I felt like my muscles stopped working and I had a sudden shooting lower back cramp. Good thing that Ellen recognized some of my symptoms as what she had not long ago… a parasitic worm infection. We went to the pharmacy and I leaned against the wall while Ellen showed the lady her empty medicine box and Erica helped translate. I bought two days’ worth of pills and wondered how I was going to walk anywhere at that point. The girls took me to a bajaji and Erica tried to explain to the guy where our place was… then she tried calling Cristina with no luck… then she called Shama who spent forever on a bad connection line trying to bargain down the driver’s price for me. Haha nice of him to worry that I was getting ripped off but I literally couldn’t stand up anymore! I sat on the road while the convo went on until the driver finished talking and stayed firm on his price of 2000 TZ shillings, which is about $1 USD. The girls told me it was a rip off but I was happy that they had managed to find a way to communicate with him and to finally sit down properly. Erica and Ellen were so sweet and worried about me but I was happy to see them go because I felt bad that I was holding them back from their day. The driver didn’t speak English and I started to worry that he only had a general idea of where to drop me and then I’d be totally lost in the winding dirt footpaths of the village. Luckily, he took me right to the door of the Zion Home and I happily paid the full price! I headed to my room right away to take the disgusting pills (they worked, though!) and drink a lot of water before passing out for hours. I felt so bad that I missed teaching the kids anatomy and reading Malala but in the end, we watched The Last Samurai on Erica’s laptop when she was back and it kept a bunch of us distracted until dinner. Dinner was in the dark since there was no power on that side of the buildings in the evening but I barely ate, so it was fast anyways. Sher completed my bracelet in the evening… I’m really impressed! Local Erica helped him tie it on me and she also made us both ankle bracelets. She’s a really sweet girl… she seems attached to me and I really enjoy spending time with her. She’s my version of Sher’s Shama… his teenage buddy on the trip.
Tuesday April 11th:
Sher and Cristina organized a day trip for today- Sher and I would treat the kids to a private bus ride to Ifisi (just over an hour from Zion Home) and then a pizza lunch at this hotel playground and restaurant. Local Erica saved me a seat in the back of the bus and little Innocent (who I’m finding myself really protective of lately) sat beside us on the way there and back. He fell asleep on my lap on the way back and I could feel his wheezing breathing. Cristina said she is planning to get him checked soon which made me feel better. But he coughs all the time and he seems painfully shy. His name really suits him… he’s so innocent but he seems to have a hard time and it breaks my heart. Especially when local Erica told me the story of his childhood with his mentally ill mother and the tough time he had until coming to the Zion Home last year… now I think he’ll be the hardest to leave for me. Sher and I didn’t ask about the back stories of any of the kids or which ones were HIV-positive because it seems irrelevant while you’re there… everyone is just trying to contribute to the positive learning environment and look to the future while enjoying the present. But I was really curious about “Eno” (they don’t usually call him by his full name) since I was a little concerned about him.
Local Erica wrote in my journal- We went to play and hang out with the other kids. At lunch we had vegetarian pizza and chicken pizza with sodas and tomato salad and watermelon. After we ate lunch, we waited for our stomachs to digest and after we kept playing on different playgrounds and at 6:00 we headed back home.