Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Merry Christmas for 5 days!

Christmas started here on the 20th of December at 7 p.m. when we met for caroling at the hospital.  We start with a few people and as we go around more people join us.  It rained that afternoon so we had about 8 of us to start but ended up with more than 30.  We sang in each hospital ward and gave out sweets to everyone.  We then went to staff housing, waiting mother’s shelter and more staff housing.  We got our walk in for the day and ended about 9:30 p.m.

On the 21st of December we had our annual Christmas lunch and party for all the staff at the hospital.  We close our Outpatient Department at 1 p.m. and then gather in our dining room for an afternoon of fun.

We served chicken, beef, rice, sadza, coleslaw and potatoes this year and people ate and ate until they were so full. I made 6 chocolate cakes for desert and they ate then all too. We then did some questions with prizes that got some very funny answers.

We end the party with all he staff getting a bag full of groceries to take home for their families for Christmas. We gave out 112 bags this year!  We had a great time and everyone seemed to enjoy it.  And we all came home very tired!

The 22nd of December was a holiday here so most of our staff were off from the 22nd through the 26th—a long 5-day holiday this time!  We started off at 5:30 a.m. when our surgeon and anesthesiologist from Harare arrived to do our list of elective surgeries.  I fed them breakfast and then they went to work.  They had 11 cases and they finished by 2 p.m. working straight through until they finished, then they came home and ate lunch before leaving for Harare. I did rounds so our doctor could help and learn in surgery.  We appreciate their hard work and dedication for our patients here.

On Saturday the 23rd I worked half a day and then came home to do some cooking and baking for Christmas Eve the next day.  All the presents were wrapped and under the tree ready to go.
On the 24th we had church in the morning and then at 6 p.m. had a Sunday evening service at the hospital.  After Sunday evening service Major Mereki and family came home from farming at Batanai to have a Christmas Eve dinner of ham and scalloped potatoes and all the trimmings.  We then opened our gifts and had cake and coffee before they left after 11 p.m. for home.  Shortly thereafter we had a nice gentle rain that continued all night.
Christmas morning the 25th we went for church at the hospital at 9 a.m.  We usually serve tea and bread after but after sending a car to several townships, there was no bread to be found!  So after service we served tea and cookies.  All the Water Mother’s were there and patients and some church people so they all enjoyed!

Then I went home to watch some Christmas movies on video and enjoy the peace and quiet.  Our electricity went off about 5 p.m. and by 8 p.m. I was in bed! When there are no lights I get tired very early!  The lights did come on about 9:30 p.m. and stayed on until about noon Tuesday morning and then have been off ever since.

We have had rain everyday and the ground is very wet and great for our crops so we are happy for that.

Since today was a holiday too (the 26th) I decided to stay home from work unless they called me and so far so good.  Got some baking done (I have a gas stove for when the electricity is off) and cleaned up my office.  Almost got a load of wash out before the electricity went off but they wouldn’t have dried with rain all afternoon anyway! It has kept us cool with all the rain and clouds!

I hope all of you had a great time celebrating Christmas and that it was a good family time for you.  It was great hearing about a White Christmas from friends in Seattle, to Missouri to Indiana to NJ!  We had a rainy Christmas and loved it!

Carolyn and Michael Mereki with Dr. Moyo's daughter Celine at caroling

Caroling at Hospital and giving out sweets

Administration team enjoying Christmas lunch

Staff lining up for lunch

Dr. Moyo handing out Grocery Bags to staff

Major and Kathy at the party

Surgery team from Harare busy all day on the 22nd

Tree ready with all the presents

 Opening gifts with Mereki family Christmas Eve

 Someone happy with US cash!!

 Girls opening their gifts

 Eating Christmas Eve dinner

Michael opening his gifts

 Major, Patience, Carolyn and cousins Christine and Nancy at Christmas church

 People attending church at the hospital Christmas Day

 Major preaching Christmas Day

 People getting tea and cookies after church

The rains continued through the 26th

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Christmas time in Harare, Michael arrives, Wedding, Emily leaves

Well it has been a busy 3 weeks since I wrote so lots to catch up on.  We have been on the go and keeping very busy with the countdown to Christmas.  Emily helped me to get the decorations up on the 2nd of December--she decorated the tree.  We are all decorated and ready for the whole month to celebrate!

On December 4, Michael Mereki, arrived home for Christmas holidays from University in South Africa.  It is always great to have him home and an extra driver to help us out at the hospital.  I have been putting him to work driving and helping Emily and I to get our outreach Viral Loads done at our ART clinics we do away from the hospital.  The first time he took us we had a flat tire on the way home so it was great he was with us to change it!

On December 4 our research team from Harare and Stanford came out for 2 days to work on all the details for our study which should start in January.  Dr. David Katzenstein from Stanford is our Principle Investigator and we enjoyed are talks and we look forward to providing for our kids in this research.  We have 600+ kids from age 2-21 we are studying.

Our third year medical students from UZ left on the 7th of December after 3 weeks with us.  We put them to work drawing bloods for us at our ART clinics and they liked that.  We wish them well with their future studies.

On the 8th of December I took the kids and Emily in for our Christmas tradition here.  We go to Harare for a 3 day weekend in December to get ready for Christmas.  Michael, Carolyn, Emily, Christine (Carolyn and Michael's cousin) came from Chidamoyo and we met up with their other cousin, Christine's sister, Nancy, who is doing her college internship in Harare.

The girls started with Pedicures at the spa on Friday morning, picked up Nancy from work for lunch together and then went home for a quick change and off to the annual Christmas pantomime.  Pantomime here is the main male lead is played by a lady and the main female lead is played by a man.  It is a musical comedy that is mainly for kids--but we all love it.  We took Mrs. Kajese and their daughter Alexis with us this year.

On the morning of the 9th we spent time at the flea market buying gifts for Christmas and then I left to meet up with Major and Patience to go to the wedding of Solace Mukuze and Broadwell Chinzou.  It was a wonderful wedding.

This is Sylvia's niece that she sponsored through nursing school in Australia and works in Melborne, Australia as a nurse.  She married her high school sweetheart at a wonderful ceremony at Miekles Hotel in Harare.  Her sister Gloria was her maid of honor and works as a nurse in Santa Rosa, where their Aunt Sylvia lives.  Since Sylvia couldn't come I stood in as their Aunt--which including helping to cut the wedding cake.  We stayed until late and really had a great time seeing all the relatives.

We drove home Sunday and got home in time for Sunday night church and brought some KFC chicken home to eat with the kids that night.  A great weekend had by all.

On the 14th of December Major and I traveled to Kadoma (4 hours away) for a meeting with ZACH (Zimbabwe Association of Church Hospitals).  They are the representative of mission hospitals to the government and they are a big help to mission hospitals.  We left at 4 a.m. and got home at 10 p.m.  a long day!

This was Emily's last week with me so we kept her busy helping me with computer work for our research study, and drawing blood.  We did one more outreach before she left to get viral loads.  We will miss her greatly and she left for US yesterday (Saturday).

Yesterday we also had our older kids support group (12-18 year olds) for kids born with AIDS and on ART.  The older girls have started sewing and making quilts and I was able to spend time with them in their sewing group.  They were having a great time.

We have been a bit worried as we haven't had a lot of rain yet--but Friday afternoon and evening we got a good rain.  My maize is 6 inches up already.  Keep praying for good rains as many of the areas in the country are still very dry!

If you have Instagram--follow our pictures from Chidamoyo on sistermakate.

Emily decorating the tree

Medical students drawing bloods at Nyamutora

Group from Stanford and Harare to discuss our research study

Manicures--Red for Christmas!

Lunch for our Christmas weekend

Michael, Christine, Emily, Caroline, Nancy

Decorated for Christmas in Harare townhouse

Christmas decorations at Chidamoyo

Alexis Kajese 

The Pantomime

Solace's wedding

With Gloria and the Bride Solace

Cutting the Cake

With Mr. and Mrs. Chinzou

Mereki's with Gloria Mukuze

Michael helping Emily draw blood

Changing the tyre on way home from clinic--thanks Michael!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Historical Week in Zimbabwe

After an Army take over on November 15 which was called a "non-coup" we had a roller coaster week as the country decided what would happen next.

On Friday the 17th the ruling political party (ZANU-PF) met and dismissed President Mugabe as their President and called for his resignation by Monday the 20th or they would start impeachment hearing against him. 

Saturday the 21st the crowds in the streets of Harare and throughout the country filled with people celebrating the decision.  Many were calling it their new Independence Day.  They went up to the Army and hugged them for taking over.  All colors of people in the country turned out.

Sunday night we sat around the TV as Mugabe called for a press conference and then didn't resign.

Tuesday the 21st the Parliament meet and started Impeachment steps when all of a sudden a letter arrived which was read announcing Mugabe's resignation.  The MPs stood and cheered and danced--something never before witnessed in Zimbabwe.  People again took to the streets to celebrate and all over Zimbabwe people drove cars in the streets blowing their horns and yelling!  We were now a country without a President.

Thursday night the 23rd Emmerson Mnangagwa returned to Zimbabwe from exile in South Africa and on Friday the 24th he was sworn in as the new President of the country and ZANU-PF until the next elections sometime in mid-year 2018.

What a week this has been in Zimbabwe.  Certainly historic and above all peaceful and calm with no bloodshed.  How thankful we are that our prayers and yours were answered for prayers and safety for all Zimbabweans.

Work continues the same at the hospital.  We have been pleasantly busy but it is a slower time of the year as people are busy plowing in their fields and getting ready to plants when the rains set in.

I have been helping to see Out-patients and one of our doctors was at medical meeting fro Mon-Wed and one is on leave so that leaves only 1 to do in-patients and out-patients so I help out with out-patients when he is busy in theater.  Yesterday I did anesthesia for a skin graft for a young man that had his leg bit by a crocodile in the Sanyati River.  Emily helped me in theater and continues to help me with many paperwork projects we have to do around the hospital.

Thank you to all of you who prayed for the situation in Zimbabwe and sent well wishes to us through social media and emails.  We only knew what was happening by watching it on TV as things continued as normal in the bush.

This was Thanksgiving week in the States and we are having our dinner tomorrow night (Sunday) with 14 people coming.  Thursday wasn't a holiday here so no time to cook when I had to work all day.  Now I can have after work Saturday and Sunday to get ready.  You have to do all from scratch here--no store to help you out!  It's very dark like a big rain storm coming so I do hope we don't lose our electricity!

We have so much to be Thankful here and we are thankful to all of you! Thank you for your faithful support for the hospital through difficult times and for your support of us.

Emily is off to Batanai with Major and family for the weekend to work in the fields and help plow and plant for the weekend!  She wants the "African experience!"

 UZ Students helping with skin graft on Crocodile bites 

 Emily helping me exam outpatients

 Emily helping me in Theater

The News from the TV this week


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Two weeks back, new visitor, some rain, Army takes over

Work has been busy as I catch up from being gone for almost 7 weeks.  I have been busy working on an application through the Japanese embassy to get a digital X-ray machine.  We are praying for this wonderful gift to the hospital to be granted.

On Monday the 6th of November a new visitor, Emily Wade, from Florida, came to work with us for 6 weeks.  She is a new RN graduate from August and we are happy to have her work with us.  She has been working with us at the hospital and Thursday we went to Batanai to draw Viral Loads for people that attend our ART clinic there.  She is excited to be here and will be a big help to

During our weekly in-service meeting for nurses on Tuesday this week,  a patient came walking up to us and fell on the ground and soon we heard the plop of a baby coming out!  So during the in-service meeting we stopped to finish delivering the baby!  A big baby boy.  We suggested she name it Inservice!

We have had some more rain and it has been cloudy for 3 days and a little rain each day.  We hope that it really let's lose soon so people can get their crops planted.  It has been cloudy all day and humid but no rain so far! 

Of course as soon as the rains and thunder and lightening storms come we lose our electricity as power poles fall down.  In the 3 weeks we have been back we have lost power more than it has been on!  Hard to keep our fridges cold!  No fans to sleep with which has been hard for some of the nights.  It always seems we can't have rain and electricity at the same time.  Rainy season is always our bad time for electricity!  My visitor is appreciating electricity whenever we have it!

One of our local Headmasters at Jinga school died and we all went to the funeral on Sunday the 12th.  There were many people there.  We brought several car loads from the hospital as he was the father-in-law to our driver, Tapson Nyamaharo.  There were sprinkles of rain but we all enjoyed the clouds and coolness of the day.  We spent several hours there until the burial was over and rushed home for church at the hospital at 5 p.m.

We woke up to an Army take over of the country on Wednesday morning and we were all surprised.  Since we had no electricity for 2 days we hadn't been listening to any news and only when people started sending emails asking if we were ok did I get batteries out and turned on Voice of America.  Since we had no electricity at home Emily and I hadn't sent many emails for a couple of days so people were panicked as to why we were quiet!

When I got to the hospital where there is internet (we have 24/7 solar there) we were able to check out all the news and start writing to assure people all was fine and quiet here in the busy.  Work continued as usual.

Emily and 3 University of Zimbabwe medical students and I went out to Mawhada (1 hour away) to draw Viral Loads at one of our outreach clinics on Thursday.  We drew 118 people in 3 hours in between some rain!  We all had to pick up our stuff and run for cover everytime it started to rain since we were outside!  The students were excited to learn a new clinical skill and Emily is also learning and a big help.  I did the paperwork and the ones they couldn't get!

Things over the last several days continue to happen.  We are all awaiting the outcomes.  We sent our truck to Harare yesterday and they were able to get what we needed but stores and work places were seeming to close by mid-day.

One enjoyable outcome is that there are no roadblocks on the road by police since they are quiet since their commander was detained.  Any roadblocks are manned by Army who want to see ID and make sure no one is carrying weapons in to Harare to fight.  They are all polite and not taking bribes!  What a difference that is!

Today there are going to be many people demonstrating in the streets for the President's resignation.  We continue to pray for Peace and a better life for people in Zimbabwe.  Stay tuned!

Life here in the bush continues as usual.  Emily and Major and wife went off to Rhino Camp on Lake Kariba for a safari yesterday and will be back tomorrow, so even more quiet here!

 It has been hot--driving to hospital at 3 p.m. after lunch!

Baby Inservice

Emily drawing blood at Batanai

Outreach patients getting Viral loads

 Emily drawing blood at Batanai

Getting some rain at the hospital and turning lawn green!

 Nursing staff on duty this week on Day shift

 Funeral of Headmaster at Jinga School

 People lined up to have blood drawn

  Medical students and Emily drawing blood

The Army blocking off streets in downtown Harare on Wednesday morning