Can you believe I have been here for mwezi mmoja (one month) already! The time really has flown by, and I feel like I am finally getting into more of a routine and feeling more settled! Yay for that!
I thought it would be fun to do the highlights of each of my month’s here! It would be a good way for me to process everything from the month, and share my experiences with you!
Mwezi mmoja: Oktoba highlights:
Of course, the obvious one, seeing Joel everyday!!! In real life.. having real dates… talking.. discussing.. having fun.. and continuing to get to know each other! Our date nights have been a bit limited due to the lack of things going on.. Moshi isn’t a super happening town! I honestly don’t really mind, because in my old(er) age I am tired and in by 10pm anyways! Haha!! We mainly go out for dinner and have already been to most of the restaurants in Moshi!! Luckily there is (some) variety- there is Mexican (my fav!), Korean, A LOT of Indian, traditional African, Chinese, Pizza, BBQ and a few with a mix of local and western flare. We’ve gone out to dinner with friends and Joel’s family and have had many nights just staying in watching a movie or just hanging out. I don’t have a TV here, and it’s actually been really nice! Our conversations are always so interesting! Our upbringings were so different… basically being raised in 2 separate worlds!! Maybe, if I’m really lucky, Joel will write a post one day about his family and tribe (Chagga) and some of his traditions!! Learning about him and his life has been so fun and he continues to amaze me with his hard work ethic (apparently a Chagga characteristic), selflessness and strong values. He truly does make me want to be a better person! Hopefully I am able to do the same for him…and maybe even teach him a thing or two regarding timeliness (Africa Time is a legit thing 😖)!!
Getting used to the daily grind!! I am realizing this may be an evolving role, and I will just have to just roll with it. I am STILL waiting for my nursing license… going on 4 months now.. so its been hard to be super hands on with the patients. I did get to access a port the other day though….I was so excited.. and happy to say, I still got it! I’ve just been learning everyone’s roles, and seeing their process of seeing patients in clinic and giving chemotherapy in the infusion center. As issues come up, I try to offer suggestions and ideas for improvement. I’ve done some training with the nurse volunteers and will start doing more education with the pediatric and adult nurses on the ward. All things I’m looking forward to! I will be doing some teaching at the nursing school, and coordinating a clinical rotation here at the clinic! I’m excited to expose more students to oncology and, hopefully, recruit some for the Oncology Ward that will be built in the next few years!!
Cancer Prevention Week! The week of Oct. 23-28 was a busy one at the Cancer Center! It was the launching of the Cancer Prevention Campaign, PrevACamp. A group from the United States, Cure Cervical Cancer, came in for the week to do cervical cancer screenings…and boy did they do them.. over 800 women were screened! One of the volunteers from Germany has been working really hard on this campaign for the past year, and she did a great job spreading the word and going out into the neighboring towns to educate and notify women of the free screenings! It was amazing to me how many women had not even heard of cervical cancer… most of them didn’t even know what or where their cervix was, let alone anything about HPV and yearly screenings! Once they were informed, almost all of them wanted to do the free screening! You can check out the organization here: http://curecervicalcancer.org/the-story-of-curecervicalcancer/
Our role for the week was to check every single one of these 800+ women for HIV. That’s a lot of finger sticks, let me tell you!! It’s a law that you have to know their HIV status before being screened. This was new information on the first day of the campaign, so we were scrambling around finding help and supplies! Needless to say, it all came together and we were able to test and screen everyone! The last day was the main event of the campaign. There were doctors from all disciplines: gynecology, urology, GI, pediatrics and community health. Everyone had a booth with information on signs and symptoms of different cancers and doctors to talk to with questions. It was a great turnout and just the beginning of bringing cancer awareness to the Kilimanjaro Region of Tanzania!
Meeting new people at the local Hash (who knows what that is- because I didn’t!). It was basically a hike that had been laid out for you by the leaders earlier in the day. They put flour on the trail so you know the way.. sort of Hansel and Gretel style! You follow the flour through the woods, and eventually find yourself at someone’s house for drinks and food! I went last weekend, and it was so fun! There were about 50 people there, a mix of foreigners and some locals who have either been living in Moshi for years or who are just here for a few weeks to months volunteering. Moshi seems to have a great community- it’s always so interesting to see what brings people here, and how/why they end up staying. Who knows, maybe that will be me one day… years down the road, talking about my life in Moshi!
Learning Swahili!! It’s a pole pole (slow) process, but it’s coming along and I’m starting to recognize and retain more words and grammar. Sometimes I feel like I’m back in elementary, learning all about subject and object verb prefixes, conjugation and demonstratives. Ha. It’s been fun and I’m learning about letters that I never thought would go together like ny/ng/vy and then trying to sound them out in words.. my tutor gets mad that I can’t pronounce some of the sounds very well, he says that my tongue placement is very American. Haha, yeah, well, that makes sense!! So far I can say:
Mambo! Habari za leo? Ninaitwa Liz. Mimi ni muuguzi na ni mwalimu wa wanafunzi wauguzi. Mimi ni mtoto wa Terri na Frank na ni dada wa Sarah na ni shangazi wa Ella. Ninatoka America, lakini ninaishi Moshi sasa. Nimekaa Moshi tangu Septemba irishini na tisa. Nitakaa Moshi kwa mwaka mmoja. Ninafanya kazi muuguzi na KCMC. Mchumba wangu ni Joel. Anafanya kazi Pristine Trails na D&J kahawa. Yeye ni Tanzanian na anaishi Moshi. Ninampenda sana! Tanzania ni nzuri sana kuna vyakula vizuri na hali joto ya hewa na milima mikubwa. Karibuni Tanzania! Kwaheri na siku njema. Ninawapenda sana!
Hahaha, thanks for letting me practice! As the months progress, hopefully so will my Swahili!
Cooking on my own!! This has been one thing that I’ve really enjoyed! I love going to the local roadside stands and buying my weekly fruits and vegetables! This past week I was also informed about a family that sells fruits and veggies from their farm to the local community. They send out an email every Monday with a list of everything they are selling.. everything from marinated olives, fresh honey, and tomato salsa (definitely trying this) to spinach, kale, sweet potatoes, and peppers. They also have an assortment of herbs, plants and flowers. You email your order and they deliver it right to your door! Last week I received my first order, and I loved it!! They also have a meal for the week (think: Blue Apron). They supply all the ingredients and you just have to add chicken and rice. It was a sweet potato curry… so good, and so easy! I can’t wait to place my order this week!!
Along with the cooking.. I finally figured out my oven!! It’s the small things that get us excited, right!?! The oven just has numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, so I was a bit confused by this, but with a little trial and error I got it working!! I made kale chips, roasted veggies and sweet potatoes.. one of my favorite things! I also got to try out some baking! Despite not having measuring spoons, my oatmeal/carrot cookies and pumpkin bread turned out delicious! Joel is my official taste tester, and has gotten to taste all sorts of fun things: kale chips, carrot cookies, guacamole, french toast and roasted sweet potatoes. All of which he as liked so far…so he says!
Driving for the first time in Moshi.. and surviving! Even Joel said I passed :)!! If I want to have a car here, I guess I won’t have a choice.. so might as well just go for it! Joel and his friend Edward found a car that was worth looking at and taking for a test drive.. so, off we went, me on the right side of the car, driving on the left side of the road. Kinda strange, and will take some time getting used to, but I managed, and we all survived! It’s funny, the muscle memory we have… I kept hitting the windshield wipers thinking it was the turn signal because they are on the opposite side. Oops! I’ll keep you posted on what I end up deciding about the car!
The realization that I. Am. Living. In. Africa. How amazing, and wild and insane is that!?! I mean, not many people can say that they have lived in a foreign, third world country. When I really think about it, I feel so lucky to have this opportunity and grateful that I had enough courage to actually do it! ** Daring Greatly, remember?! Haha. The downside though… I. Am. Living. In. Africa. It’s so far away, and I can‘t help but miss my family and friends. I was spoiled for so long, living with or being right down the road from some of my best friends… I think I took it for granted at the time because now I’m really missing it and realizing how lucky I was! I’m trying to continue Daring Greatly and going out of my comfort zone and attending events like the Hash, and asking people to go to dinner. I love Joel to pieces but sometimes you just need girl time….and lucky for me, Joel’s friend Edward has a lovely wife, Kim, who is great and so understanding of the transition here. We had dinner the other night and it was just what I needed!
Overall, I’d say the highlight of this month has just been feeling settled. As I said in my last post I have been able to find things that feel like home and feel like me. I’m still being patient with myself when I’m having those down days or frustrating moments and reminding myself that settling in, learning the language, and making friends will take time, and I am only one month in. I still have 11 to go!! So just you wait, Month 12’s post will all be in Swahili!!
November is a big month so stay tuned for all the highlights… especially, The Danik’s take Africa portion! Mama T and Baba (Papa) Frank are coming to Africa November 16 and I. Can’t. Wait. So stay tuned….
As always, love and miss you all!!