January 27, 2014

Posts Pending

Although I've completed my Peace Corps service, I have not forgotten this blog! As the saying goes, "Life comes at you fast" so it'll take me some time to gather my thoughts (and find some free time) to post more thoughts about my Peace Corps experience.

There's so much to tell. Where do I continue...?

August 23, 2013

Malaria in Me

I recently took a malaria rapid diagnostic test when I was sick and the result was negative. Yay! But did I ever tell you about the time I actually got malaria?

April 2011. I haven't had a headache this bad in YEARS.

I took some pain killers and closed my eyes, hoping sleep would take the pain away. I awoke the next morning to sun highlighting sections of my hut. The headache was gone. Great, back to work.

A week later, I came down with a really bad case of the flu. Or what I thought was the flu. As I started walking to the clinic from my house, my body felt like I was going in slow motion. I was walking in a blizzard, fighting against strong wind and freezing cold. But no such thing existed. Something was wrong. My body won over my stubborn persistence to walk to the clinic and I retreated home. With the wind knocked right out of me, I collapsed on the floor of my hut.

Malaria Rapid Diagnostic Test: cassette, reagent, pipette, needle prick, and alcohol swap

I looked at the cassette sideways, sliding it back and forth in my hand. This can't be... right? A line appeared under P. falciparum on the cassette. Hm, I must've done something wrong. I guess I'll use the other one. So, I repeated the process with the second cassette. The second cassette had an identical result.

August 22, 2013

Unglamorously Yours: Poop in a Hole

Interestingly enough, while I was writing this entry, I Googled "poop in a hole" and one of the first suggestions on the search bar was "poop in a hole peace corps." I'm glad Google understands that this matter is always trending in a PCVs life.

Party time!

"We all float down here and when you're down here, you'll float too." - Pennywise the dancing clown from Steven King's IT

I know it's disgusting but there's no other way to talk about this. Your survival in a rural area depends on knowing the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. You've heard the saying "everyone bleeds blood"? Well, guess what? Everyone poops too. It's one of humanity's universal truths. Beautiful people, average-looking people; Black, White, Brown; religious, non-religious; the rich and the poor. As a person traveling around rural parts of a country, whether you're working in the field for years or just visiting for a week, you might have to poop in a hole.

On Friendships, Strangeships, and Things in Between

I'm always thinking about relationships because underneath my serious, New Yawker expression, I care about the people that help manage the ebb and flow of my time in Zambia.

Friendships:  The seasons change and friends stick around even during rain season. And no matter how long rain season is, they're there for you and you're there for them. Distance doesn't silence you and you're never at a loss for words the next time you communicate. 

Thanks to Facebook era, people slip acquaintances into the friends category sometimes. Which is cool, I guess. No one wants to hurt anyone's feelings and tell them the limited extent of their relationship. It might not matter to some who calls what whom and yadda yadd yah. It's not to say that I don't appreciate people that are currently in or have been in my life but I cherish the people that really get to know and understand me and still put up with me anyway.

Stream of Consciousness Travel

I wrote this while traveling.

Long road trips. I love them and I hate them just the same. I love them because of I love to travel. Travel gives you the chance to see and experience new things. My family's regular migrations from New York to South Carolina are enjoyable because you can see how much the backdrop changes: from tall skyscrapers and concrete to tall trees and open land. So why do I hate them? After 16 hours in a car, my body contorts like a zombie in Michael Jackson's Thriller video.

April 5, 2013

Malaria Anonymous

Looking up from the patient screening book to see the growing number of patients waiting to be seen, my eyes rested upon a mother anxiously rocking her infant back and forth in her arms. Worry clouded the woman's face as her eyes concentrated on her infant. The infant's eyes revealed fading glimmers of life. For the brief moments they opened, only the whites of her eyeballs showed. Her small chest rose sporadically as she gasped for air. For a brief moment, she didn't seem real. The one-year old girl remained in this zombie-like state as her mother rushed her to the front of the patient queue.

We tested the child and asked the mother the who's, what's, when's and how's about her child's condition. The mother treated her child at home, saving her the effort of walking the 24 kilometers to the clinic. But now, after several days, the child's condition deteriorated.

Looking at the child's lifeless state, I desperately snapped, "Can't we just please refer her to the district?"

"All of these people have malaria," the clinic In-Charge answered. He raised his hand to guide my eyes to the sea of patients waiting outside of the clinic for malaria tests and treatment.

"She doesn't look well... at all. This woman walked TWENTY. FOUR. K..."

"We will see her," the In-Charge reassured.

BAMM!: Stop Out Malaria

April is Blog About Malaria Month (BAMM). This month, we will increase our efforts to Stop Out Malaria with awareness about the disease. This post is the first in a series about how malaria affects everyone's lives.

Malaria, one of the world's deadliest diseases, is caused by a parasites that are spread by mosquitoes. The infected mosquitoes then transmits malaria from person to person. Malaria is found in many tropical climates in the world, mainly in Latin America, Asia, and Africa.  Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 85% of malaria cases and 90% of malaria deaths worldwide. It can be especially harmful to vulnerable populations such as young children, pregnant women and People Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWHA). Malaria devastates the lives of individuals, families, communities, and nations.

To date, many organizations have made countless efforts to eliminate malaria by raising awareness, conducting behavior change trainings, mass distribution of bed nets, and fundraising to aid community organizations in their malaria elimination and prevention programs. In Zambia, the Ministry of Health's prioritization of malaria control, in conjunction with increased international aid and advocacy, helped decrease the number of inpatient malaria cases and deaths. The Stomp Out Malaria initiative assists the Ministry of Health in their goals through malaria research, education, and community mobilization. By combining a scale up of community-level and large-scale organization/government effort, we hope to stomp out malaria once and for all.

For more information about the Stop Out Malaria project, click here.