I wrote you after our first class, in the Copperbelt province of Zambia. Today I'm writing you from Livingstone, in the south. After two weeks of teaching, we are taking a well deserved break. Let me tell you a bit about every HBB session we had.
Before describing the sessions, you have to know that Melissa has been in Zambia 6 times prior to this trip and she has a well established reputation in some places. Every year she goes, she finds new spots for the following year. Most importantly, she has an amazing ground person, Leonard, who helps her organizing all her trips prior to the group's arrival. Every day has its own schedule and some room for the unforeseen circumstances. The rules were to be flexible, adaptable and have a good sense of humour!
You may remember that we had our first HBB class at a missionary's lodge. We trained more or less twenty people there. Our second training day was in a district hospital, where junior doctors and nurses were learning resuscitation. We created a teaching program on the spot based on their needs. It was an HBB/NRP/plus class! There were more or less 12 docs and 12 nurses. The third HBB class was under the threes with a group of people that had already been trained in the past. A dozen came for a refresh. Amongst them, few have trained others so far. One came with a registry of some births that she attended with the HBB equipment! There were 3 people that had never received the training that day. The next training was in a little village where initially only three midwives or traditional birth attendants were present. The word of our presence rapidly spread to the surrounding huts and at the end of the afternoon, 11 certificates were given. These last two trainings were done with an interpreter who was sometimes a trainee herself.
Our last 175 participants were from the southern province. We trained them in a hospital in construction. We were actually in the future OR. We lost electricity one day! We had to teach in a hallway by the windows! We had very busy days. We were at maximum capacity twice. 8 neonatalies, 8 trainers, 6-7 trainees per group! We taught in English to an extremely diversified audience ranging from administrators interested in the program to nutritionists who happen to also deliver babies! The day we left, they organized a training in the afternoon that they led all by themselves!
I have already told you about the schedule of an HBB class here. We did the same on every occasion. It took from 3 to 4 hours each time. Sometimes we had two classes per day.
I must say that this trip was not only focussed on HBB. Melissa founded a non for profit organization to help the tiny people! We ran a few clinics where we would do physical exams, try on reading glasses and changing wound's dressings for instance. It may sound scary at first sight, but it did not require a lot of experience/expertise to do these things. We also visited orphanages where Melissa goes every time she comes here.
Most HBB trainers and Zambians that we met have a Christian background, but it was clearly not a requirement to join the team. Divas and flat ironers were more likely to be disappointed!
Here are some pictures:
I really loved my trip. I would strongly recommend it to any of you. It's a good first experience in Africa if you have never travelled that far before. Leonard takes great care that we sleep in places that are comfy and safe. It's obviously not 5 stars hotels, but I can't find any issues with my current experience. I saw worst than you can imagine in my prior trips! It's also a financial commitment as there is no funding. Your donation covers your flight, most of your meals and all your accommodation. Your barely have out of pocket expenses. If you would like to ask me more about it, I would be extremely happy to chat about my trip and put you in contact with Melissa. If life brings me back there, we may even go together!
See you soon
Our bags were WAY over weight because we had to take a puddle jumper to connect to our international flight. The staff showed us much grace and didn't charge us anything overage. Then we found out this flight was delayed and we would be cutting it super close to catch our Next flight.... We actually made the next connection... Barely!!! Then the real excitement begins!!!
Our flight left Lusaka Zambia and had a one hour layover I'm Zimbabwe to let passengers off but most remained. As we were waiting for the plane to take off an announcement came over the PA.... Is there a doctor on board a passenger is having complications .... Dr Andy stepped up to the call.... Then they announced its a mom in labor...... Linda and I looked and each other and said guess the trips not over yet!!!
We went back to assess the situation. Dr Andy graciously stepped aside and we found a mom In preterm labor 24 weeks into her pregnancy. The combination of dehydration and pressure changes caused her to go into preterm labor . We asked to crew to call for an ambulance , 10
Min later they told us the clinic was closed and no one was coming. Linda and I asked for the planes emergency medical kit and Betsy stepped up to run IV fluids and Linda and I gloved up and started an IV while The moms contractions were coming every 1 min 15 seconds.
Still no ambulance or anyone responding . It was at this time I decided to walk swiftly to the cockpit to speak with the captain. Let just say he moved quickly as a feisty American woman was approaching being a fierce advocate for this young Indian woman in preterm labor.
I asked him point blank if he was prepared to have 2 fatalities at 30000 feet on his plane ???!! Or was he gonna make a Phone call and get an ambulance crew to get her off the plane and into a clinic. The call was made and guess what?!.... An ambulance arrive in 20 min. Betsy kept the crew working efficiently and managed crowd control with all the passengers wanting to get this on film! Crazy!!!!!! We then fashioned an arm board from a tissue box and tape to keep mom from bending her arm with the IV in it. The ambulance came and I helped them lift mom from the plane seats she was lying on to the stretcher that barely squeeze in the isle.
Linda, Betsy and I made it back to our seats and found out the woman next to us us married to a Perinatologist in Zambia and also does volunteer EMT work and may want to join our 2015 TPM team! God at work!!!
The captain then came out shook our hands thanked us for our service and moved Linda, Betsy and I to first class!!! Wow never sat in there before!!!! I apologized to the captain for storming in the cockpit and he graciously accepted my apology saying he understood the urgency. First class ended after 6 hours as we changed flights for 17 more hours of travel.
God is Amazing as he provides all we need for all situations. We are about ready to touch down on American soil. Thank God for an wonderful TPM team and all the provisions HE put In place to make this a huge success within his plan. Every one of our team was healthy and
safe and came to know God in a fresh new way thru the people we served and the creation we had the opportunity to see on the safari and at the falls.
Thanks for all your prayers
From Melissa and Team Zambia 2014
Greetings! Today we enjoyed our second to last day in Choma. After a peaceful day of rest and fun the team was ready to get back to Choma General Hospital to teach HBB. We went to the hospital thinking we would have a small morning class. To our surprise there were 34 people waiting to take our class before we arrived! We followed our motto of being flexible, adaptable, and having a sense of humor and created a room to accommodate all of our eager learners. While the morning class was going on we were informed that word had spread and more people wanted to take the class in the afternoon and Thursday morning. We are thrilled that our message has reached so many Zambians. After a fun day of teaching we went back to the golden pillow where we entertained one another with song and skit. Marc, Jen and I (Amy) performed a group roast skit involving him being a laboring mother. Robin sang a TPM song with Linda and Melissa were back up dancers. Jen and I added out own moves as well. Leonard had the whole group involved in a group song and dance. We have been blessed this entire trip and are looking forward to teaching another class and heading to Livingstone.
Amy and Tiny People Matter team
Our initial plan was to head to Livingstone this morning to start our fun tourist day. However, duty called and we ended up teaching. What was supposed to be a " little" class. Haha, that is where adaptable comes in! 50 people showed up for our "little" class. So we hit the ground running and as a team set up for everyone in no time at all!
What a great team of awesome people God put together. I also have to mention the wonderful learners we had. These men and woman came from up to 2-3 hours to get to our class! Now that is dedication to the tiny people of Zambia!
After our class we ran back to the hotel to change and get on the road to Livingstone. We made it in time for the sunset cruise on the African Queen. We saw tons of hippos and elephants. It was lovely. On our return we went to hotel we went to the Royal Livingstone and played some games and had great laughs!
We played the lying game which was hysterical. I learned a lot about about my teammates!! After a day that started with hard but very satisfying work...we ended with much needed relaxation and laughter.
It was the perfect end to the day. We started with hard work but ended with laughter and relaxation. What a wonderful and fulfilling day.
Linda for team TPM
From the Zambesi Sun Resort, Livingstone, Zambia
Friday, November 14, 2014
Our last full day in Africa, and it was a day full of activities. Our "work" is complete. Marc and Melissa did the math and for the total we trained approximately 240 midwives, birth attendants and others during our time here. Leonard talked to us yesterday about "finishing well," and I think we did just that. We arrived here at the resort yesterday transformed into tourists.
The hotel has some interesting features. Since it is situated just outside Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, there are zebras, baboons, giraffes and impalas that roam freely around the grounds. The zebras spend most of the time around the pool area grazing. If you get too close they will kick you. The baboons also have an attitude. This morning at breakfast one of them jumped off the roof onto a table in the outdoor dining areas, and broke a bunch of dishes before being chased off. Mosi-oa-Tunya means "the smoke that thunders," which is the local name for Victoria Falls.
This morning after a huge buffet breakfast was our long awaited safari, a game drive in Chobe National Park in Botswana. First we rode a large van to the Botswana border, crossed on a boat into the country and picked up our Botswana transportation to the park. At the border our tires and shoes were disinfected and we were screened for Ebola - which amounts to a nurse looking through are passports for any travel to West Africa. The nurse was Elliot, and when Melissa saw his name tag listing him as a midwife of course she had to give him her 60 second "elevator " pitch on Helping Babies Breathe. He was interested and they exchanged information. Maybe next year we will be giving classes in Botswana.
On the drive to the park in the open air vehicle Beckie was hit in the knee by a flying dung beetle. We got some nice photos of the beetle, which I'm afraid was too stunned to survive.
Our two excellent guides were Moses and Furube, which sounded like "Frisbe" when I heard it.
This is the very beginning of the rainy season here, which has its advantages and disadvantages. Many of the trees have beautiful flowers, but most have very few leaves, so spotting game is a lot easier, and since the water holes are still dry, many of the animals congregate at the Chobe River so they were conveniently out in the open for us to view.
Here is a list of the game we saw today, many of them in great numbers and at close range:
Birds - many species
Dung beetle at work
We also saw many elephant skeletons, not from poaching but from natural causes - not surprising since our guide explained there are approximately 120,000 elephants in the park!
The game drive ended with an excellent lunch, then back to Zambia. At the border we did some bargaining for wood carvings and other items. These vendors really got in our personal space, especially Jen's. We made some pretty good deals for items that will show up at TPM fundraisers.
Back in Zambia the rest of our luggage had finally arrived at the hotel - a long story involving using Leonard's van to transport Robin to her earlier flight out of Lusaka and breaking down on the way back. We learned that Robin made it back to PA okay, but in her words the trip seemed "endless."
In the afternoon most of us walked down to Victoria Falls. The flow is pretty low this time of year, so today one can only imagine the spectacle of this place at full flow in a few months and why it is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Also more shopping for local items by Melissa, Linda, Cathy, Betsy, Amy and Jen. Linda and Melissa seemed like they were competing for which one could buy the more ridiculous item. Marc actually bought a chess set for 50 dollars and the pair of socks he was wearing after more than an hour of bargaining and making up stories.
Later many of us just relaxed around, and in my case in the pool. The pool was wonderful therapy. On my back in the shallow area I was so relaxed Beckie thought I was dead and tried to rescue me.
Tomorrow we catch our various flights home. I figure about 30 hours of travel time for most of us, some even more. Natotela - Thanks for your support and attention and a special thanks from all of us to Leonard and Rose for all they have done to make this trip a success..
Our day started bright and kind of early--you know, "Zambian Time"--at Choma General Hospital. We first met with the director of the hospital, and introduced ourselves. We told him about the Tiny People Matter Organization and were surprised to hear that he has been taught
the Helping Babies Breathe program by someone who had previously taken the course from Tiny People Matter! How cool is that?! Educate, empowering, and encouraging people to give this gift of knowledge to others is what TPM is all about!
We then got a tour of the hospital. Since we're all neonatal/pediatric professionals we, of course, were most interested in seeing the Maternity Ward, which had the antepartum, delivery area, postpartum, and even a preemie room. We were quite impressed with their set up and
the equipment they had! Their buildings were fairly spread out, so we headed across the way to the pediatric ward.
What perspective you get when taking a look into another country's hospital! A new perspective of all the big and little blessings we have in the States.
After the tour, we hit the ground running! We were informed that all the ladies and men that were standing at the front of the hospital were here to take our Helping Babies Breathe class. So, as we always do, our team pulled together and educated 51 caregivers from around
the Choma area...some even driving over two hours! Shortly through the class, we were told there were more people here wanting to take the course, but we wanted to give quality teaching and guidance. So another class in the afternoon was a must! The first class went
smoothly and ended with every participant receiving their precious certificate and coveted picture with Melissa and Linda. Whew! One down, one more class to go! We all had a feast for lunch, and by a feast, I mean an apple, and we were off to do another class!
Our team pulled together once more and finished strong with another HBB class for 23
more caregivers eager to learn! Overall it was a rewarding day where we accomplished everything TPM has been created to do! Educate, Empower, and Encourage! How lucky are
we to be able to share our knowledge with the caregivers of Zambia through God's grace?
Jen from the Team
After church we met with the pastor in his office and tried the local drink made from maize, which was interesting but I don't think any of us asked for seconds. Then in the church courtyard we ran a mobile clinic and saw some very interesting conditions, including what we thought were some benign tumors, as Melissa and Robin dressed a large ankle wound. Beckie gave out lots of reading glasses to the adults, which always generates big smiles. Some of these people have not been able to read anything for years, including the Bible. Cathy did her photography thing as the others - Marc, Jen, Cathy and Amy, took blood pressures and saw patients under the mango tree.
In the afternoon we all drove to the Macha Mission Hospital about an hour north. On the road we saw our first wild game of the trip: a monkey, several guinea fowl, and three water bucks. Getting all eleven of us into Leonard's van is always intersting. Luckily we are all still getting along very well. Thanks to Marc for squeezing into the trunk.
I have wanted to see the Macha Mission Hospital for many years, since I worked with one of their doctors, Dr. Phil Thuma (whose father founded the hospital over 50 years ago), when he was in Hershey. Dr. Thuma is back in the States right now, so our tour was conducted by their medical director Dr. John Spurrier. The hospital is quite large and has an excellent relationship with the district. The success they have had with malaria and HIV is amazing, and the research they do there is impressive.
We don't know yet what our day will be like tomorrow. Travel is somewhat restricted for the next few days due to the upcoming funeral on Tuesday for the late president Michael Sata, who passed away about a week ago.
All for now from Andy and the TPM Zambia team.
Our last day at FCE. We were able to sleep in before preparing to move on to the next adventure. We had a beautiful breakfast under the trees. The table setting itself was just lovely. Linda read to us from "Jesus Calling" about trusting God in all difficulties. Remember this as I will refer to it later. We relaxed until Leonard and Alick came to pick us up. The first challenge was fitting all of the luggage into the vehicles. Dr. Marc was up to the challenge! After moving things several times and moving seats forward to make more room it was all
finally in. Next challenge: fit 13 people and their backpacks, purses, pillows, etc into 2 vehicles. Melissa says we are to be flexible! Well we managed it but not comfortably unless you managed to be lucky enough to snag a front seat. The first part of our trip was uneventful with many interesting discussions (at least in our car). We register the reading at breakfast. Kathi felt it was depressing.
Becki assured her it wasn't her horoscope for the day and made her sit through another reading of it. And I the. Gave us more information regarding the US flag code than we ever wanted to know. He and Becki also managed some car aerobics to manage stiff backs and cramped legs! After only 6.5 short hours and 1 bathroom stop we made it to Lusaka. The halfway point of our journey. We stopped for some much needed stretching and nourishment. When Leonard told us we still had about 4 hours to go we tried not to moan out loud!!
Back to the car we went. We switched up seating arrangements to make things fair and I finally had the coveted front seat! It was heavenly. The talking began to dwindle the longer we drove. Did I mention there were many speed bumps? To slow you down for the many check points. We came to a check point and were told to pull over. We were in trouble as the drivers could not see out of the back windows. Leonard, of course, talked his way out of a fine.
He unfortunately couldn't do the same for poor Alick. They finally come back to the cars and Leonard pulls out. Meanwhile Alick tries to start the car and all we hear is "click click click click". The battery is dead. We try to reach Lenard. He has no service. Did I happen to mention that our driver is deaf and mute? And the rest of us don't know the language? It was at that point that I told Kathi the morning reading actually just might be her horoscope! Alex had some cables - except they weren't like what we have. Just exposed wires on the end. He found someone to help jump us. He asked Andy to hold the wires to the battery with his bare hands. He was reluctant to do so.... The car was started and we were back on our way with windows down and air conditioning off due to the low battery light being on. Leonard then picked that time to call to see where we were. Really? You just realized we weren't behind you?
Although Linda and Beckie were extremely busy, I couldn't help them much. At the end of afternoon, 72 glasses were enjoying their new life on an African nose. I then went to see how Melissa, Amy, Jen and Betsy were dealing with the HBB lesson. Initially there were only three
women but after a little while it was pretty crowded in that little room. 11 certificates were given to amazing learners. They quickly got the hang of it. There was no room for me to squeeze in so I went back to see those kids. Kathi was still playing with her camera and the
kids. They loved her so much. I asked Leonard, our main contact down here to help me triage all kids. We made 4 queues. One for the kidswith no complaints. one for the toothache, one for the ear pain, one for the abdominal pain and one for the other complaints. I browsed around with my otoscope to look all the ears and mouth needed to be seen and wrote the kids' name on a paper and what could be done to help them.
We were finally able to reunite with the rest of the group who were waiting along the roadside trying to convince the vendors that they did not need any fruits and vegetables!
We made it the rest of the way to our lodge in Choma uneventfully. Praise God! After a round of musical rooms / roommates we were able to retire to our air conditioned rooms to stretch our cramped muscles. We learned that we do need to trust our difficulties to the Lord and
he will see us through!
We then looked at the aching tommies and the other issues.The clinic is going to follow up with a dentist or the proper medication as needed, hopefully. Then it was time to wrap up. Leonard made the children dance and sign and laugh. We waved them good bye and came
back to King's highway, where we lodge for a last night. Once more today, our path got drawn as we were experiencing it. We had no control and had to let it go. This is obviously nothing compared to those who don't even know if they are going to eat but this was a wonderful experience.
Marc for the team