Today was our first day of work. We did an outreach program in the school house of a small village called Dungu. Marielle, Jessica, and Mark determined acuity by hanging three Snell charts around the trunk of a large tree that provided a lot of shade. They marked six meters back from the tree and had the patients stand there while pointing which way the E was directed. (Because not everyone is literate, rather than having letters, our Snell charts have E's oriented either up, down, left, or right.) We brought along lots of cards to record the date, village, name, age, sex, vision right eye, vision left eye, and diagnosis. This was filled out at the time of acuity testing and the patients were then sent in to the school house with their card to be screened for eye disease by the optometric nurse, Lydia. (Patients in need of a full exam from Dr Wanye or who needed cataract surgery scheduled a time to come into the clinic.) Cu Ri and myself were in charge of determining refraction and dispensing glasses. It was wicked enjoyable and all went very smoothly. The kids were so excited to have us there and really had fun with us. When we left, we high-fived them all and shook their hands and they very sincerely thanked us for coming to their village. They cheered and eagerly waved goodbye when we left. They made us feel special, it was nice :) Tomorrow, four people will go on another outreach program while myself and another group member will stay in the clinic to help with the cataract surgeries. I am WICKED excited for that!! My understanding is we will help organize the patients and bring them from the pre-op room to the operating room to the post-op room. Like all aspect of this trip, I don't know exactly what to expect but I do know that I get to watch a lot of the surgeries and even get to "assist" - what that consists of, I don't know!
Last night I went for a jog around the area. Mazes of dirt roads make up the “neighborhood” where we live. Running around, it was clear to me that we are in a more affluent part of town. Every house had multiple rooms and had a car, garden, and farm animals. It was so hot it was nearly unbearable, but I trucked on for a pathetic (yet still good for me) 25 minutes. I had my iPod with me and was in the zone when, nearing the end of my jog, I saw something out of the corner of my eye. I looked behind me, prepared to move aside for a scooter, when I realized I had acquired a track team along the way!! Running with me was at least ten of the local kiddos. At first I thought they may be making fun of me (they were keeping their shoulders back with bent arms and controlling their breathing) until I realized, no, they are just having a wicked fun time! It was a precious moment and I couldn't help but laugh. I turned off my music and asked them if they liked to run. They said they did and were excited to see me running by their homes. The kids ranged in age from about 4 to 14. They were all wearing flip-flops, most of which were too big, yet that didn't stop them from keeping up, some even beating me by a long shot. I hollered to the ones in front that I was heading home, so hang a right and they were thrilled to do so. It was funny when I came up to the house because the roommates were all on the front porch and got a good laugh at my trail of runners. I gave them some water and went inside to take a shower and Mark threw around the frisbee with them.
Last night Tina made us delicious local food for dinner! We had fried plantains with a red sauce, fried rice (the best I have had here so far), and, of course, fried chicken. I'm still amazed that they eat hot meals when it's so hot outside, but so it goes. For dessert, we cut up two huge mangoes that Dr. Wanye brought over from his house. He also brought us fresh eggs that we hard boiled for lunch tomorrow.
I did my first load of laundry yesterday, which was an experience! I have never washed a full load of clothes by hand! I filled the basin with water, soaked the clothes, put in two fist-fulls of soap, scrubbed the clothes with themselves to get out stains and dirt, rinsed them, and then hung them up to dry. It was a work out! And it was really gross to see how much dirt was in the water when I dumped out the basin!
Happily, we finally have electricity back. Now we can recharge out computers, cameras, and phones. But most importantly, we can now sleep because we have fans again!! We are all looking forward to a nice night's rest that doesn't involve being soaked in sweat :) On that note, I'm out and will be in touch soon. Take care!! Love you all!!
(Please disregard any spelling errors... I don't think the spellcheck is working and, unfortunately, I rely too heavily on it. Also, pay no mind to poor grammar, I don't write papers in school anymore and I'm calling that excuse valid!)
P.S. Two things came to mind that I wanted to share: 1) It is SO impressive how the children and women all carry the oddest shaped, heaviest objects on their head, effortlessly!! Shapes range from small baskets to huge, asymmetrical boards carrying anything and everything - sticks, cloth, food, sandels, bread... Their posture is impeccable. 2) The local greeting here is "Kawaaba" and you shake hands, press your thumbs together, then snap your middle fingers out. I've finally gotten the hang of it. It's fun!
P.P.S. I am still trying to post pictures!! For some reason, the firewall in the internet cafe is preventing me from doing so. I am going to try it for the fourth time tomorrow on my roommate's computer and hopefully that works. If not, you will all just have to wait for my return :) I hope I can post them, though, because I've taken some really great pictures thus far and no words can describe everything perfectly!