Monday, August 11, 2008

A retreat at Namalundu

Wednesday 6th August

Today I acted as tour guide to show some of the Team HATW around the hospital. As usual I managed to find out new things and see things I hadn't previously seen. The Ultrasound scanner was very impressive – not what I remember – but apparently it has been in the hospital for 3 years.

Yesterday the hospital stores had a nearly new computer installed to enable them to revisit the database I developed in 2004 – 6. All I have to do now is recover the database!

I have also provided a copy of the database for the Pharmacy who apparently have also been given a new computer in order to make use of it.

This evening power was off most of the evening so I decided to make a coleslaw salad and anticipate a steak sandwich when power came back. The timing of the power returning was perfect and in 5 – 10 mins the steak was ready to join the coleslaw.

Sunday 10th August

I returned from Namalundu this afternoon. Namalundu is very close to the Kafue Gorge which is where a lot of the electricity for Zambia comes from and where because of 'improvement works' we are suffering excessive 'load shedding'! I was told the the kafue river is now dry for a few miles because all of the water is being directed into a tunnel that takes it to the turbines.

However, I wasn't on a sightseeing trip but on a retreat. For those not familiar with this activity, it is an opportunity to take some time out from the general routine (or strain) of daily life and reflect on our journey in life. I had felt a real need for such time, so was delighted to be invited to join the nurses in their retreat.

The place is almost 200 km from Monze and surrounded by hills – unlike Monze. We travelled with Fr. Rodgers in his pick-up and I found a spot in the open rear of the vehicle. As usual I failed to get the hang of the timing. We were due to arrive by 17 hrs so we planned to leave at 16hrs. We left at 16.40 and had to pick someone up 'en-route' (though I was surprised when we headed a good number of kilometres along the Lochinvar Road.) Having failed to find our passenger we returned to Monze and picked her up from home. We set off again at 17.40 – by this time I suspected we were unlikely to be there in time!! In fact it was approaching 21hrs when we reached our destination.

We were of course welcomed with a hot meal (It can get a little chilly in the back of a pick-up at night – especially with the unseasonably cold weather we are currently experiencing.) The weekend was just what I needed. It allowed me to recall so many times when I have felt the touch of my God. On the first evening the resident priest told us that they often had monkeys around the area. In fact they had a problem with the building that we used as a dining room. The roof was thatched with grass – which he said was in fact the best material because it kept the place warm in the cold weather and cool in the hot season. However, the monkeys invented a game where they used the roof as a slide and slid off the roof on their bottoms. This they enjoyed immensely – but unfortunately the roof couldn't cope and after many repairs the game was ended by replacing the roof with 'iron sheets'. Having heard this tale I was keen to get a glimpse of these guys! However, I kept getting the message 'If it's God's will you'll see them at the appropriate time'. So as I was about to reflect on what I would take away from the weekend and thinking about trusting in God they appeared!

It was a great privilege to be accepted into the small group that comprised 10 of us including our chaplain and a one-year old! Retreat such as these are often times when people share deep and personal issues. This is hard enough among people you know but with a relative stranger and someone from a very different culture I imagine it could be a major issue. Anyway I felt accepted by the group and I hope that others gained from my presence as I did from theirs.

Thursday and Friday passed very fast at the hospital. I did a fair bit of running around to try to arrange a few things in relation to the Maluba project and the Team – including another tour. Thursday's tour was in marked contrast to Wednesday's – it wasn't helped by the fact that there was a funeral for the mother of one of the nurses, so most of the staff were unavailable to guide us around the departments and wards. Here funerals are very important and it isn't just close family who will attend.

On Thursday morning I succeeded to extract the latest version of the Stock Control system from the old computer and load it onto the new Stores computer and also update the one in the Pharmacy. So with luck and some hard work the systems could be up and running before I leave this year.

Best Wishes


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