Katey in Zambia

My adventures as a Peace Corps HIV/AIDS Project Volunteer in Zambia. *The contents of this blog are my own opinions and do not reflect those of the United States Peace Corps.*

Friday, December 21, 2007

a day in the life:

people have been wondering... so one day, i just wrote down everything i did. you are welcome mom!
700: wake up. No one is in the village except 2 or 3 children. Everyone else has gone to the fields
800: Warm water over brasier for tea and cream of wheat.
900: Walk 1.5 km to the clinic. meet a friend along the way who, just as everyone in my village did yesterday, tells me I've been away too long and that I am very fat. (This translates into "American" as, I've missed you, I'm glad you have returned healthy). The last half kilometer to the clinic I am shyly greeted by small, giggling children on their way to school.
930: I arrive at teh clinic, weave my way through the swarm of people waiting to be seen and greet the nurse inside who is pulling school exercize books from a shelf (the closest thing to a patient record here). He begins a tyrade about being overworked and we both agree that the clinic is sorely understaffed now that everyone has been transfeerred to urban areas. This has left only him to do the work of 3, and he is on-call every day all day for emergencies and baby deliveries.
1000: I go to my friend's house (the other nurse who has just been transferred) and help her pack. This involves me stuffing hundreds of foam pieces into a pillow case, and explaining the cultural inuendos in the movie "Sideways" which she recently watched.
1100: I excuse myself and walk to the chief's village in search of a counterpart that I am inviting to a workshop in Chipata. She, of course (as nothing works out as planned the first time around in Zambia) is in town today, so I leave a note for her. While waiting to find out that she is away for the day, I chat with another woman and her 2 teenage daughters. They are not only shocked... but horrified to hear taht I am an only child. We debate whether I should have 2 or 10 children, and why I am not married yet at the ripe old age of 23! Then we move onto food and I list everything I can think of that we eat in America and repeat over and over that we don't eat sima. Another woman appears with her toddler at this point, chuckling that her (now screaming in terror of me) daughter saw me and announced "Mama, look, a green person!" (I guess it would help to add at this point that I wore a green shirt and skirt today). Everyone laughs, and the previous conversation is recounted to the new woman as they intermittantly shove the terrified child towards me and she screams.
1130: I return tot he clinic via the small shops which sell sugar, matches, candles, cooking oil, and cookies. I see some of my favorite kids, who are sad taht I won't shake their mango-pu.lp-ridden hands when I greet them. Mango season has just begun here. You can't walk by a mango tree without spotting a child up the tree in search of the perfect mango.. or being hit by a mango pit or stone as children throw them into the tree to knock the not-quite-ripe mangoes down.
1135:Back at the clinic I sit down to write 15 identical notes called "bushnotes" which will be delivered to the recipients by passing them from one person to another int eh direction towards their home. The average time for a delivery 10km away is 3-5 days. These particular notes invide an HIV/AIDS group to a meeting about income generating activiteis and to show them their new sewing machine that I recently bought in town (thanks New Hope friends and family!). I thne ask the same nurse from earlier whether or not my funds were approved to train a group of teenagers to run a Youth Friendly Corner where they would be peer educators about sex-ed and STIs (formerly known as STDs). I am told that I need to wait another month becuase the funds I wanted (not much at all... $30ish for a week-long training) will be used to purchase a second goat for world AIDS day. Oh! And World AIDS day will be celebrated a week late due to poor planning (not surprising.. AT ALL!)
1200: I say my last goodbyes to teh transferred nurse and she invites me to visit her in Ndola sometime. I say yes, and wonder when I will take the 4day journey across the country. Then I walk home in the heat. Its supposed to be the rainy season here already, but it hasnt rained in 3 weeks. The sun is blazing and there isnt a time when I am not sweating... even in the shower and as I sleep. Please, rain, come back soon and cool this place off!
1230: I cant bring myself to start a fire for lunch so I mix up some powdered milk and eat muesli (my big purchase in Lusaka) for lunch.
1245: The 10 year old girl next door, Miso, comes over to chat. I teach her how to make friendshiop bracelets and we talk about the different animals in America and Zambia.
1400: Its too hot. I surrender tot he heat and take a nap in my hut.
1545: I wake-up, start the brasier and warm water to bathe. After my bucket bath I cook some green beans I bought in town the other day and eat them in my kitchen while chatting with people who pass by.
1700: My headman comes by to chat... but really to tell me every detail of his stomache illness (don't worry, I'll spare you the details)... people still think I am a doctor! Then he compares Livingstone (where I have just been) to America (where he has never been).
1800: Now it is dusk and all of the girls are returning from teh borehole with water to cook their dinner. I will write a few letters, read, and text some other PCVs before going to bed around 20 hrs.

There is no such thing as a set schedule in the village, nor a "typical day", but I guess this is pretty average. I hope this helsp all of you who have been asking!


Anonymous Mama said...

Thank you Katey for writing your "typical" day down for me. I enjoyed reading and picturing it.
We will turn the heat up for when you return....what size bucket shall I buy for your bucket baths?

7:50 PM  

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