Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Hellooooooo Nurse

Hellooooooo Nurse

As I wrote about last week, our nurse has found another job. I remember her telling me when she began working that she had never even heard of Compassion and didn’t have a clue what the job was about when she interviewed, yet they still hired her. To her credit, she was very good. She was very knowledgeable about nursing, she was stern yet loving to the kids. But now she’s gone, so guess who’s the next qualified person to handle nursing duties… me. Your friendly neighborhood Peace Corps health volunteer.

Let me tell you a little bit about my background and how exactly I got here. I have a degree in Industrial Technology Education from Purdue University. That’s a fancy title for a Shop Teacher, which is what I did for 2 years. Afterwards I quit and managed a store for 9 months and followed that up by being an ironworker for another 9 months. Upon deciding to do the Peace Corps, I filled out an application and submitted my resume. I qualified for 2 fields: education and health. The education part is fairly obvious, but the reason I qualified for health was because I took a 1 day First Aid class when I was applying for a job as a Fireman. That’s my entire health background… and now I’m Mr Nurse.

As soon as Alice the nurse left we talked about hiring a nurse temporarily until Compassion supplied us with one of our own (which took 6 months last time), but that of course is on African time, meaning that they’ve talked about it now but it now but it might be 3 months before they actually hire a temp. Fortunately I picked up a book in Kampala called “Where There Is No Doctor” which is a great, great resource for any PCV. I guess they used to give each volunteer this book, even as recent as a few years ago. We never got one, so I bought one. (actually I bought 2, thanks to Jacob, but that’s another story for another day). This particular edition is specific for Africa and it has page after page of everything from dressing a wound, delivering babies, medication and dosages, skin problems, serious illnesses, and there’s even a chapter on village beliefs and witchcraft. This book can’t be relied on entirely. And I am super concerned about ‘mis-diagnosing’ something. Treating people’s health field is a major responsibility. If it’s anything remotely serious then we send the child to the health clinic where there is a doctor (pun intended). But for simple cuts, sprains, headaches and the like…I’m the man. And we do have latex gloves which I wear when working with blood. At least 8 of our kids are confirmed HIV cases.


I’m not doing weekly home visits anymore. They figured we were spending too much on transportation by going into the field 2x a week, so now they have all 4 of the staff go out once at the end of the month. We’re a little understaffed now with no nurse and our director on a month vacation so it’s been 3 weeks and we’ve only been in the field 1 ½ days.

Last Thursday we visited John’s house. He lives right next to the school he attends called Mutanoga Primary School. Upon arriving I saw a teenaged girl who was sitting in the doorway, her legs were green and covered in what looked like hundreds of small pimples from the knees down. The green was an herb that she had applied to her legs, which she said itched badly. I read through the Where There Is No Doctor book but couldn’t find anything about her condition. This family was so poor, too, that they couldn’t send her to the health clinic. They were living in a small, concrete house with a leaky roof which they were renting. They had been given some goats by Compassion as an income generating project. They had also been given $50 by John’s sponsor for a birthday gift. We had gone there to discus what they wished to buy with the money. $50 isn’t enough to construct a simple house, which is what they need. They only have enough money for a few months rent and then they will be without shelter. Sereniah, one of the other ladies on staff, tells me that $150 would construct them a very simple house for this family. I know that I’m not here to hand out money, but when I see a family in need… I just want to help. I set aside 1/10 of my PC salary each month for a tithe. I saw Rachael giving her tithe one Sunday and was really impressed. A part of me just figures that being here is tithe enough, but she continued to give. So I’ve decided to add on the extra amount needed for a basic shelter. Other PCVs pay school fees for kids and give to their communities. Like I said, it’s hard not to sometimes. I earn less than anyone else that works with Compassion, though just barely, so it’s not like I’m living like a rich American who has money to just hand out. (though people ask you for money here sometimes like that’s what you do have) I could write a proposal and send it to Compassion HQ but Barbra tells me that they are mainly focusing on helping HIV cases anymore. I understand the need, but there are others suffering as well. I guess I also see money being spent in areas that don’t seem as important. For example, we now have a strange barbed wire fence that runs through the middle our compound and we’re also building a short brick wall around our playground equipment and filling that area with sand and re-doing the playground equipment. Does that rank higher than providing shelter for a family who has none? I plan on talking to the director about this when he returns.

Survey Says

The following is a result of a survey that was taken by Africare, whom Jacob works with. I find the information very interesting and also very telling of the conditions here. Africare surveyed a few thousand families in the Ntungamo area.

Divorced 2.5%

Widowed 33%

Separated 1.3%

Single 8.3 %

Married 49%

Average age of a Caregiver 45.9 years

Average size family – 5 children

Children per family – 2.6 orphans 2.5 non-orphans

Services Received:

70.5% None

17% Education

4.1% Food

>2% Health Care

>2% Clothes

>2% Other

Services Requested:

62.3% Education

18.7% None

6.5% Food


At 10 October, 2006, Blogger NanettePC said...

Wow Nurse Brian - good luck. Just because you don't have a degree in healthcare doesn't mean you can't be a really great healthcare giver there. I have the utmost confidence in your ability to take care of your community. And I think it's a great thing you are doing for that family. Love your posts.

At 13 October, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Half of nursing is being compassionate. I'm sure you can do that! It's going to be a new adventure and it will certainly keep you on your toes. Can't wait from the stories involved with this assignment! Take care of yourself too!


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