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Uzi again

Posted by on June 27, 2011

Now that we have four students to map malaria cases, we’re trying to be more productive by having two cars go out into the field every day. I’ve already talked about how useless it is to have more than one mzungu in the car so I volunteered to go to Uzi with Makame to map cases while Jaclyn showed Hai how to find the patient names in the Malaria Case Registries of four health facilities nearby. Tanya went to the office to plan for the week and make some final reports.
We got picked up at 9:30 because on Monday mornings ZMCP has a staff meeting. It’s in Swahili so we’ve never gone and are not expected to attend.

The drive to Uzi took longer than last week because of the road construction that is going on in town; we had to take a detour along some dirt roads to avoid the traffic. We got to Uzi around 10:30 and stopped at the health facility to give them more money since they’ve run out again. They’re having 6-10 malaria cases a day right now, and that only includes the people who come to the health facility, there could easily be ten times as many cases. It’s unbelievable.

Makame explained that there are three different areas of Uzi so today we would concentrate our efforts in one part. We met up with one Sheha then spent the morning walking around, mapping cases. I felt like we were walking in a large circle. Unlike the other areas where we would drive to a place then map 3-4 cases, we were on our feet the entire day in Uzi and only returned to the car at 3 pm. I did get a 20 minute break while Makame and the Sheha went to pray at 1:30. During that time I really wished I had not left my lunch in the car which was several kilometers away at that point.
While the men were at the mosque they told me I could sit on the porch of one of the cases we had mapped. The lady living there was kind enough to provide me a chair and I was able to sit in the shade which was a nice relief. School was getting out at that point and the house where I rested was on the main dirt road so many people passed me by and stared, either saying “Hallo” or “mzungu”. I felt like a monkey at the zoo. A few young guys gathered in a field across the way and were obviously talking about me based on how often they looked in my direction. Luckily Makame returned in 20 minutes so I didn’t have to endure my captivity for too long.

We spent two more hours mapping cases then met up with the truck and driver who had moved to a new location. We mapped 42 cases today! A new record!

We stopped to talk to the Sheha we would need tomorrow then headed back to the coral road and the way out. While driving out of town, a bunch of young men hopped into the back of the pickup truck, hitching a ride. The driver obviously didn’t mind and I got the impression that this sort of thing happens a lot since very few people own cars here, but they had to be quick because we did not stop for them. If they couldn’t hop in the back while the truck was going 15 miles an hour, they got left behind. At the peak there were guys sitting along both sides and three or four standing up in the back.
When we got to the coral section of road we had to wait because the tide was still too high to pass. All of the guys we gave a “lifti” (lift) to jumped out, took off their shoes and started walking through the water. They must have really tough soles to their feet because the road is sharp rock and coral!

Makame, Juma, and I walked down the road a bit until we got to a very flooded section. Makame waded up to his knees but I stayed back because I didn’t want my running shoes getting soaked. We waited an hour for the water to recede enough. After two dala dalas drove past us in the opposite direction we decided it was safe and headed home.

Because of the delay, I didn’t get back until after 5:30. The other car had picked Tanya up at 3 pm and had been home for two hours before I got back. When I got back, everyone else was making dinner and I didn’t want too many cooks in the kitchen so I showered then updated my blog while dinner was prepared. Two hours later I began to wonder what was taking so long. Tanya told me that the vegetables and chapatti were ready but that the rice was still not done. Jaclyn was in charge of the rice and apparently she didn’t add enough water at first so then she added more water but that water was cold so it took a long time to heat up. Finally Jaclyn said we should just eat. It rice was a bit crunchy but the other things were great. I wish I didn’t have to do all of the cooking, but I wish to eat tasty, properly cooked food even more.

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