Saturday, September 20, 2008
My last working day at the Hospital
Friday 19th September
Today was my last working day at the hospital. It is a bit unreal because I know that it will be another two weeks before I head back to England. As usual I was rushing up to the last minute trying to tidy some loose ends. There were some visitors - I believe they described themselves as a team of Health Consultants – they came for Zambia and abroad. Among other things I believe that they were discussing management information systems. It was a pity that I didn't get a chance to talk to them.
The management information systems that I have set up in the main stores, pharmacy, school, information office, human resources and even for the tuck shop! have been modified a little to provide a bit more functionality and to repair problems that have developed over the years. Most however have only been in action for the past week or two and the users haven't had time to get used to them and demand extra features. I am encouraging people to maintain contact over the internet so that I can continue to provide support.
This week the jacaranda trees have probably hit there peak. I will attempt to provide a picture for the blog. After a cool week the temperatures have risen again. Last week they dropped by at least 7 or 8 degrees centigrade – so it the maximums were right down in the mid to upper 20s! Today thanks to the new air conditioning units and fans, the temperature in the pharmacy was kept down to 26 C. Once again I find it hard to find the sun around midday – despite the fact that it was only one day last week when we saw any clouds. The sun is already very high, though not quite directly overhead. It sits above the equator on its way down south to visit Zambia in a couple of months time.
Jennipher visited yesterday and I was able to tell her that, thanks to the generosity of some friends back in England, she will get her new bike. She is very busy and has set up groups for the children and mothers with babies (or who are pregnant). It is very hard to comprehend the difficulties faced by some of her clients. One, a thirteen year old girl with her baby, couldn't afford any soap and kept away from others because she was aware that she was dirty. Others are taught that they need to take their children off the breast because the virus could be transmitted to child through breast feeding. (Jennipher tells me that it is actually thought to be because of cuts and sores that mother and child develop rather from the milk.) The choice then becomes between passing on the virus or having no food to feed the child. Once again poverty is spreading HIV/AIDS to the next generation.
However it is not all bad news because Jennipher is managing to educate many people about the disease, how to live with it and how to avoid it. She has found some children who want to follow her example and declare their status to children in the town to try to help break down the stigma among the young people. She is also encouraging mothers to check their status during pregnancy so that they can be treated and help avoid passing the virus onto their children. With her bike she will be able to reach a lot more people. Each of her new groups will plant some seed maize, using an anthill as fertiliser. Let's hope that this year the weather is much kinder.
The 8 – 5 working day routine (or even 7.30 - 5) is now at an end. The next couple of weeks are likely to be very different as I will be visiting a variety of different places throughot the country and meeting new faces. I am looking forward to the experience and maybe the Lord is signalling a slightly different role for me in the future. It is certainly true that I feel enlivened by the work I do with the many little projects I have outside the hospital. Sometimes the challenges and the enormity of the issues becomes overwhelming and then I see someone who, with a little support and encouragement, has been transformed and suddenly hope returns.
On Tuesday I attended a meeting at Monze Basic. What I had expected to require a bit of negotiation skills – I prided myself on doing some very keen deals when working at Eagle Star – turned out to be an occasion where listening was far more important. Like seeing, true listening is something that requires the use of many senses. It is very different to hearing and is in fact very difficult without also seeing the other person. Anyway I tried to listen and report on what I heard. I hope that this will prove useful.
Sunday's Post had an article entitled 10 things to look for in a leader. The leadership election triggered this piece written by a Leadership Consultant! I am very cynical about consultants – especially management consultants! However, much of what was said made sense to me. His emphasis was on how the leader relates to others, whether she values and respects everyone working for her – whether he delights in the abilities of others rather than feeling threatened etc. Unfortunately it seems to me that many of these attributes are undervalued these days. I can't remember who it was that claimed that if you can't measure it it is of no value, but whoever it was got it completely wrong. My God is love!
I hope to have a reasonably quiet weekend. I have some cleaning and tidying to do which I often find very therapeutic. I recall trips to Lourdes when on the last day I really enjoyed getting a mop out and washing the floors, while listening to some pleasant music. I would be able to gently ponder the joys and sorrows of the previous few days and prepare for the long journey back home. I hope to be able to do something similar this weekend.
Ireen is poised to make Dilys chitenge suit – all I need is her measurements! Last weekend I looked for some material and was having difficulty finding something that would be just right. A young stall holder showed me a couple of items that were far from what I had in mind but one particularly grabbed my attention. I said I would ponder and maybe return. I had not found anything else until, on the last stall before the vegetable market, I spotted something that really caught my imagination. So I meditated as I stocked up for the next few days. I was still undecided so I found one of my friendly marketeers – one who has met Dilys – and asked her advice. She gave her opinion and then said she would come back with me to check them out. When she saw the first chitenge she confirmed that it was the one to go for. Unfortunately I needed two pieces and one had been sold in the time I had taken to get my vegetables – so the other chitenge chose itself! Chtenges as I have previously mentioned are colourful pieces of material – usually 3 metres by 1½ metres. They are used over a woman's skirt to keep it clean. However, they are also made into very attractive clothes – I hope that I will get the details needed to produce a finished article for Dilys.
Saturday 20th September
I have just visited the Maluba school. The roof is now complete and the classrooms and office are all plastered. The window frames are in place for all the classrooms and just the doors need to be installed and a few finishing touches need to be done. I will try to include a photo.
I will now start preparing for my visit to Chisamba and elsewhere. I doubt that I will have much chance to post any blogs over the next week or so (though I am sure that there will be a lot to relate) and then it will be time to head back home. I am sure you will bear with me if there is a bit of a hiatus – you might even breathe a sigh of relief!!
So for now I send my love and prayers