Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Things you would never see in Canada

Almost every day, I have experiences which kinda make me say "oh man.  I am SO far away from Canada."  Sometimes, they are very tiny things and sometimes they are monumental.  and sometimes, i even forget that that they are a little strange.  like this morning... it has so far been a relatively normal day.  Nothing too eventful.  Except for the gecko hiding on my floor that scared me. and the fact that this sign was posted on a lamp post.   Sorry for the poor photo (it was taken with my phone), but I am not sure if you can read it... it says "A night of war against satanic manipulation." oh great.  just what everyone needs.

then, a fellow saw me taking the picture, and after a minute or so of conversation said "I would like to be your friend."  HA.  OK. Fine.  And, I walked into school having a little laugh... that is one of the biggest cultural differences that is hard to overcome. no matter how long you can be here, it feels odd when a complete stranger will a) talk to you on the street and b) offer to be your friend instantly.  And, yes, I do recognize that I am a bit of a abnormality here.  Now, I do recognize that there are people who honestly want to be your friend, but there are also others who are weird and want other things (like money, or a wife).  In a culture where it is completely OK  to talk to strangers on the street, or have small talk with the person sitting beside you, you are going to meet good and not so great people.  Most of the time... it is harmless.  but... it is something that is challenging to overcome culturally.  Mostly, it just makes me laugh.  I laugh every day here.  I. love.that.  

You would also not see a flow like this just growing outside on a front boulevard in Canada.  I offer this photo, because in the next few, you will see something that will cause a huge sad face. (that is my warning... if shocking things... um... shock you, just be warned.)  I offer you this photo because it is beautiful and will make you happy.  It is one of the many realities of Africa which is amazing. This is a flower you would never see in Canada.  

 I finished my last day of clinical on wednesday at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital.  It was a busy day, with seven patients coming into the resuscitation room.  There was also a neat event.  in front of the hospital, some of the health care workers were doing a campaign about Cholera awareness, since it is coming up on the season.  Unlike Canada, where there might be a table with some pamphlets, these workers were out dancing and drumming and raising awareness.  Now... I am not sure you would see that in the front of Vancouver General, or the Royal Victoria.  Something you would never see in Canada.

As you may know, in my past, I have been a participant in African Dance classes.  They bring such joy to me;  one of the reasons why, is because when I come to Africa, I know just enough to make people love it.  They LOVE seeing white people trying to dance like an africa.  SO.  I got jiggy.  Nope, no photos to tell the tale.  The best quote, following this "exhibition" was by the head of Paeds, Dr Kennedy: "Amelia.  you have to stop dancing like that.  I can't hear my patient's heart beat over the laughter..."  (Dr Kennedy is awesome.  A very funny, very amazing, very accomplished, very compassionate doctor. He said the previous statement with a little smirk on his face.)

The day was also filled with patients and families.  Patients, who are not so sick, like this little fellow.  I mean, really...  How could you not like to work in a department like this, when you have adorable little children who look like this, staring at you every day?  However... I am quite convinced that his mother and father (who were both present) would not be so happy if i put him in my shoulder bag and brought him home with me.  Not so ethical.  (and, it may be debatable if even putting his photo on this blog is also ethical...)

And, unfortunately, we also have to deal with children like this.  BIG SAD FACE.  A 1 month old neonate, born at term.  Mother reports she has not been suckling for a day;  there were some problems breast feeding during the first week of life: "I was not producing milk,"and did not start breast feeding until the 2nd week of life.  It makes me wonder if maybe she just was not educated well on what the milk would be like.  In the child's health passport, went to post-natal clinic, the baby had went from a BW of 2300g to 1900g, and they sent her home!!!! dang.

I never, ever, thought in life that I would see something like this.  And, it was only looking back at the photos when I realized how insane it is.  The hope for this child, is that she is malnourished and possibly dehydrated, both which are treatable conditions.  There are many other with untreatable conditions, or conditions which are treatable, but did not access health care in time.  So, we pray.  We pray for this little girl and her mother, that they may be able to pull through.  This is something you would never see in Canada.

 Finally, one of the things that i have been frequently doing here in Malawi is participating in Hash House Harriers.  "A social drinking club with a running problem" as the adage goes.  Happening on Monday nights, a group of ex-pats and a few malawians meet at a different house every week to get together to run the the city, hop some shiggy(s), and have a general good time.  It is a little strange, as it frequently feels like I am back in 1st year college due to the "exclusiveness of it", but, in general, it is a nice way to mix up the running routine.  Since you 'follow a trail,' the run is everything but consistant.
However, one of the things that happens, when you run with a load of white people, through neighbourhoods and back alleys yelling things like "on on" or "on 1, on 2, on back!" and looking for markings along the side of the road... well... you garner attention.  What happens, is that often the children just run along with you (try having 50 children swarming you every step you take!  and.. really... if these kids only took hold of their athletic potential, and had the resources to get themselves to races...  damn.  we'd all be super screwed.  it is SO AMAZING how fast and fit these kids are.).  or, people call out to you.  My particular "favourite" during this hash was a man (in is 20s-30s... he was at a distance) who was bathing yelled out "hey you!  hey you! (at all of us) look over here!"  having previously not seen the man... you turn, and sure enough: naked, soaped up man, waving his ding dong at you.  

nope. not things you would ever see in Canada.  :)

1 comment:

Kristin said...

Poor baby!! Hope she gets better soon! Wait?! Ding dong waving doesn't happen in Canada?! ha ha!! Hope you are enjoying your time over there!