I continued to help register patients in the dispensary this past week. Monday was rather uneventful but Tuesday made up for that. The Sister in charge of the dispensary had found out that government inspectors were coming at some point during the week. Apparently they can show up whenever they want, without warning. We didn’t have to wait too long though because they came on Tuesday morning. I was surprised to see someone from the United States with them and he was just as surprised to see me. I didn’t get to ask him why he was there but did find out that he’s from North Carolina. It was strange hearing someone talk without an accent but very nice to hear a familiar voice. The clinic apparently passed the test, barring the laboratory. There was a ceiling fan in there that they said we should remove because it stirs up the bacteria too much. I was given the task of supervising it’s removal the next day.
After leaving the dispensary, my day was just getting started. After inquiring about my sewing skills and finding them adequate, one of the Sisters enlisted my help with hemming some curtains. She of course combined this with a Swahili lesson. After this I was ready to take a nap but was intersected by another sister wanting help with something on the computer. Unable to say no, as many of you know is my tragic flaw, I agreed to assist her. That night I passed out as soon as my head hit the pillow, after a satisfying day.
When first getting oriented with the mission, I was told that our trash gets burned in an incinerator. Upon hearing this, I pictured some large furnace sort of device. Well on Thursday I found out what the “incinerator” actually is. Essentially its a tall, stone fireplace which you throw your trash in, light a match and burn it. Very high-tech. I was very skeptical and little fearful but I just went for it and within minutes my garbage was a pile of ashes.
On Friday I was offered a chance to see the farm for the compound and made the mistake of accepting the invitation. The main animal they raise is pigs and people can come to buy the meat. Now I have tried being a vegetarian before, as some of you know and this trip to the farm may cause me to revert back to that lifestyle. I am way too empathetic of a person to ever see my food while it’s still alive. There were little piglets who were born just days ago and they were the cutest things. All I could think was: I eat these! Having seen those, there is no way I would be able to keep the image out of my head every time I eat pork. I left the farm, dazed and a little sick to my stomach(although that may have been the smell of manure). Thankfully there was no meat served at dinner that night or I would have politely refused it. On Saturday at lunch however, a big pot of pork was waiting for me. I tried to eat some, telling myself that it’s normal to eat animals, but I just felt nauseous. The idea that what I’m eating used to be a living, breathing, moving thing, just makes me feel sick for some reason. I thought it would be nice knowing where my food comes from, but now I think blissful ignorance is much, much better.
Saturday was an interesting day at the dispensary. The doctor and the nurse I help with registration were gone for the day. The sisters had trouble finding someone to help me at first, but God always provides. A girl who stays at the convent during her school vacations just happens to be here this week, so they enlisted her help. She is in form 4, which is the US equivalent of a senior in high school. She speaks excellent English and we really hit it off. As we talked, I found out that she aspires to be a lawyer and help women and children of Africa especially. Listening to her discuss the problems of her people and the ways in which she wants to help, I thought; young people like this girl are the ones who are going to save the African people. Like the students I talked to on my first day here, she recognizes that education is the ticket to a more prosperous, just Africa. Now I am finding myself asking: What can I do? How can I help more people receive an education, so that they, not me, can make the changes their countries need? Change needs to come from within. Outside countries can empower the African people to make a change but in the end they need to pull themselves out of poverty.