Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Yankari Game Park

It has now been 6 months since we arrived to Nigeria. There are some things I have become accustomed to but still many things which require more effort. We are just now beginning to build some relationships at work which has been a big plus. I have learned more about how life exists for the majority of people here in Vom. Life would seem to be a constant struggle when hearing their stories, but I have been amazed at how well villagers continue on from day to day.
For the past 2 months I have been in the TB unit. About half of this population is HIV positive. I have heard many sad stories where a husband is HIV positive and has not disclosed this to his wife and it is only discovered after he dies. The wife then tests positive and is left with this stigma trying to raise children. In some cases the possessions along with the children are taken from her by her late husband’s family. There is much difficulty with the TB population to stick to their 6-8 month treatment regimen with limited cash flow in paying for transportation. The TB meds though are paid for by the state.
It is frustrating trying to work with a system where there is a shortage of staff, limited funds for equipment, and people not following through with what is expected. The nurse I am working with is still putting in time in pharmacy because they have not yet filled her position. It was expected that Sister Vic would be trained to manage the TB unit. Our local supplier of items for the TB unit states she will visit us monthly to replenish our stock but we have been left close to empty at times if not for Randy making a run into Jos. Water and electricity is in short supply. There have been days where we have had no water for pts to take meds so I have carried a bucket from home one day. Other days the electricity turns off and pts are unable to get chest x-rays. The hospital does have a generator but is only able to use it when urgent due to limited money for fuel.
Traffic is still a major concern for me to overcome. We still come across many accidents and every time we are on the road my body tenses up. Just recently on a trip back from Yankari we were side swiped by a lorry (semi truck). We were waiting to make a left hand turn across traffic and the truck coming toward us lost control of the steering and came into our lane, just glancing off the side of the car (luckily). The driver did not stop to check on us but continued on. I am so thankful that no one was hurt. Randy and the kids were also in a crash yesterday on the way home from school when a car came off the shoulder to do a u-turn right in front of them while they were traveling at highway speed. They glanced off the other car but then ricocheted across the oncoming traffic lane- luckily there was a gap in the traffic and they just continued on across without further collisions. No one was injured and the other person was very nice about arranging repairs, but it was still scary. Now that I work in the hospital I am constantly reminded of how unsafe the roads are with the motor vehicle crash victims coming in to be treated. One day, 3 people came in all bloody from head to toe and one man’s arm almost severed off. There are no ambulances so they come in quite fresh, usually in the back of someone’s pick up.
Our trip to Yankari wildlife preserve was quite exciting. We were lucky to see many different types of animals on our safari. At one point we saw baboons, monkeys, water bucks and elephants all in the same area. It was quite a privilege. At the accommodations baboons and wart hogs roam the grounds scavenging for food. One time I was on the step of our chalet and was startled when a baboon jumped up right next to me. I quickly opened our door and ran inside screaming. When I closed the door the baboon was wrestling with the door handle and pushing up against the door. Randy and Westen just sat there laughing at me while I was trying to bolt the door shut. We have even seen them attempting to open our window. They are quite aggressive. It is odd when one feels we have become the caged animal with baboons looking in the windows. The water springs at Yankari is quite inviting with the constant temp at 31 degrees Celsius. At our first swim Kezia yells out elephant. Sure enough there was an elephant grazing at the far end of the spring.
The temp here is still hot and sticky. Every so often it cools down and it feels like the rains are soon to come. The trees continue to bring forth wonderful flowers and I am surprised to see them bear new fruit. We are enjoying the mangoes. Right now though, I could go for a big bowl of chocolate ice cream.-charlotte