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South African Consultants

Posted by on July 1, 2011

On Tuesday we had two cars going into the field again, one going to Uzi at 7:30 and the other going to Tunguu at 8:30 am. On Sunday night we agreed that I’d go to Tunguu and that Jaclyn would go to Uzi and Hai would go with one of us. After she learned on Monday night that the car going to Uzi would be leaving so early, Jaclyn did say a word to anyone and stormed off to her room. The situation didn’t look good so on Tuesday I skipped running so that I could be ready to go at 7:30 just in case Jaclyn wasn’t ready. It’s a good thing I did that because she didn’t emerge from her room until 7:15 and when I asked Jaclyn if she would be ready to go, she replied, “Well, I never wanted to go to Uzi in the first place.” Like that was even an answer to my question. And why hadn’t she said that on Sunday when we were planning? I knew that she was worried about having to wait for the tide to go down before coming home but sitting in the car is not hard and I had already done it.

I decided to take the high road and not argue and volunteered to switch with her. I thought the coral road would be a neat experience for Hai so I told him to come with me. Makame and Juma picked us up at 7:45 and we headed off.
We made the final turn off and were just a few hundred meters from the start of the coral road when the truck started slowing down and Juma pulled to the side of the road. The clutch on the truck broke and we couldn’t go anywhere!!
Makame and Juma called another ZMCP driver to come fetch us but we waited for nearly an hour on the side of the road. Finally the other truck arrived and we piled into that one and booked it to Uzi. On the way Makame told me that there weren’t that many cases to map and we would be leaving before high tide and not after, making it a short day instead of a long one. It’s a good thing Jaclyn didn’t hear that.

We met up with the Sheha and two of his assistants and rushed from house to house, marking way points in a hurry. Instead of walking everywhere, we drove from place to place when possible to save time. I taught Hai how to mark the coordinates and what to write on our data collection sheets. The Shehas knew we were in a hurry and they would start walking back to the truck while Makame was still talking to the malaria patient. It was certainly the most efficient mapping ever.

We left Uzi with plenty of time to spare and didn’t even see water wash over the road. On the way back we stopped at the broken truck where the other driver was still waiting and they hooked the trucks together to tow the broken one back to the office. I don’t think there are any tow trucks on Zanzibar. The other driver stayed in the broken truck and steered while being towed, but it was still a bit scary when we made some turns and the back truck didn’t quite turn with us.

We also picked up a girl who was walking along the coral road toward town. She didn’t speak any English but could write a bit so she and I exchanged messages on our cell phones! She was in secondary school and needed to go to Stone Town to borrow a book from a friend so she could study for a college entrance exam. I didn’t ask how long it would have taken her to get to town if we had not picked her up.

Back at the office Tanya had her hands full with Plasmotrack stuff so I helped her as much as I could since I knew a bit about it. Tanya told me that after Hai and I left, she biked to the office and a bit later Jaclyn arrived there office because our other field coordinator, Madja, had not gotten to work yet. Tanya had a lot to do because two district supervisors were there demanding supplies but instead of helping Jaclyn just sat down stairs for an hour until Madja came. I shook my head at the news.

When Jaclyn got back from her mapping she wouldn’t even look at us and was in a very sour mood. We just let her do her own thing and tried to stay out of her way.

Hai, Jaclyn and I got a ride home from one of the drivers and Tanya came back shortly after us. Hai announced that he was going into town to get some coffee. I asked if he knew how to take the dalla dalla, where it dropped off at and where he was going. He didn’t know anything. I shook my head again. I gave him the map and showed him where he needed to go and made sure he had small bills for the bus then sent him on his way.

When Tanya got back she told us about meeting two South Africans who work for the Medical Research Council in Durban and are consulting for ZMCP on setting up a computer server and training staff members about GIS and mapping malaria cases. We were flabbergasted by this news because no one told us that ZMCP was going to try to do our project after we were gone! Surely the manager, who has to approve everything, knew that we would be here at the same time but he said nothing to us.

Tanya set up a dinner meeting with Sarel and Ishen for that evening at the Silk Route in town. Since Hai was out and didn’t have a phone, the three of us went on the dalla dalla. We had a great dinner explaining our projects and goals and asking each other questions. Sarel is originally from Zimbabwe but moved to South Africa in the 1990s so I grilled him on things to do when I’m there in the fall. Ishen has also visited Zim and recommended a few things as well. It was a far more enjoyable evening than I thought I was going to have and I came home feeling satisfied and well pleased.

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