Power cuts, new student group visiting
Well it has been a busy couple of weeks around the hospital. Slowly, winter is coming here and already it is getting into low 60’s at night and early mornings but still up to 80’s during the day. I have put the duvet on the bed and ready to get out my electric under blanket! As my visitor Elliot from Seattle, WA keeps saying “this is perfect Seattle weather!” He is wearing shorts in the morning!! brr...
Elliot is winding up his 4 months with us and leaves for home on June 2. He is getting more experience in assisting in surgery and putting sutures in. He doesn’t mind getting called out at night for C/Sections.
This past weekend I agreed to be on call from Friday night to Sunday for anaesthesia to cover our doctor who had to go to Harare. Of course, an hour after he left, I got called at 10 pm for a C/Section and before the night was out, I got called again at 0400! Got home just in time to start breakfast!
Sunday, they called me at 11:15 a.m. and I was just getting lunch ready for 12 people that were to arrive by noon! Yikes! When I arrived for the C/Section and got out of the car I heard a baby crying and sure enough she pushed it out—yeah! Home I went to cook and then got called the group had car trouble and was not arriving until that evening—go figure!
Our group of 8 that arrived Sunday evening was from the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana. They are undergraduates and 2 recent graduates and Professor, interested in medical careers. They seem to be enjoying their time here so far! We are keeping them busy with HPV vaccine clinics all week in the community and taking vital signs in Out-patient and following doctors on rounds and in theatre (surgery). Plenty to see and do!
We have started a new part of our life in the last month and that is because of the drought the water is too low in Kariba to generate much electricity and the other power station in Hwange is struggling to keep up and so throughout the country we are on power cuts. In Harare at my flat it is 4 days a week either 8 hours in the morning (5 a.m. to 1 p.m.) or 8 hours in the evening (1 pm-9 pm).
Here at Chidamoyo we have Monday and Wednesday and Friday (from 6a.m. to 10 pm at night). Here they are not so precise as town so sometimes that 6 a.m. is 4:30 a.m. or 6:20 a.m. or anywhere in between and then in the evening anytime from 7:30 pm-10:20 p.m. It always keeps us guessing!
I am very lucky to have solar back-up at my house and a gas stove too. At the hospital we have solar back-up so we can do most things including operations with the solar. Only X-rays we can’t do on the back-up so sometimes we have to start the generator. Our visitors are getting used to candlelight dinners!
One of the interesting parts of no electricity is that our phone system goes out as they have had no diesel for their generator because of the acute shortage of fuel in the country, so the hours we don’t have electricity, people can go outside our hospital fence and catch a signal from another cell phone tower if they hold their phone above their head, put it on speaker and yell! It is quite funny to see all these people with their arms up and yelling! We can’t live without cell phones now even in rural areas in the heart of Africa! I am actually happy no one can call me-ha!
One of the fun things I enjoy on Saturday mornings when I don’t have to rush to the hospital until 9 a.m. is to sit outside in my yard and watch the birds fly into my birdbath and flirt around in the water as I have tea. Sometimes they even let me take their pictures!
Elliot helping Dr. Muronzi with a C/Section