Sunday, July 24, 2011

Blog Post 9


So, a busy week (as always) since our last post! And a memorable one, indeed. Kevin and James have been going hard at getting efficiency tests done on rocket stoves, and Kim and Thabo are well into their testing of different SODIS methods. Emil and I (Colleen) spent Tuesday and Wednesday preparing for our briquetting meeting with the directors of JGI and the stove project, and left Thursday afternoon for Kigoma. The rest of the group stayed in Kalinzi an extra day to continue work. We got settled into the room at Zanzibar Hill, got unnecessarily paranoid about people coming into our balcony, and went to sleep early for our 10am meeting. Our 10am meeting started at 10:40, which was about when we were thinking it would, and it went rather well. Mr. Mtiti invited us to a cookout/picnic brouhaha which was to be a few hours later. I was pretty stoked- we hadn’t had lunch yet, and wali maharage (rice and beans) can get…familiar…after a few weeks.

Emil and I decided to try to get some of our group shopping done before the cookout, so we loaded up with peanut butter and nutella (food of the gods), plus other odds and ends, and headed back to the hotel. Zanzibar Hill, by the way, is gorgeous – covered in winding tiled staircases framed by beds of African flowers and foliage, each block of rooms its own little unique, partitioned house. Our balcony’s view was mostly screened by the canopies of the trees surrounding the house; not wonderful for city viewing, but great for bird watching! But boy, is the name “Zanzibar Hill” appropriate – stairs and stairs and more stairs as you climb and weave your way up the hill. We do a fair bit of walking here, but every time we went to our room (located at the very top) I felt completely out of shape. But oh, the horror, the horror! My hopes were dashed, for we were never to reach the hoped-for cookout. Upon reaching the hotel and taking a moment to relax, I discovered that in all my walking around, through, up, and down Kigoma, I had been walking for two: I had a little parasite friend in my foot. Well. Let’s put an end to that.

Emil and I spent what felt like the rest of the afternoon (in truth, only two hours) trying to find a place to remove my little friend. The first medical institution we visited first tried to convince me it was an inflammation (it was not), and then a bacterial infection (it was not). I decided that if the doctor couldn’t tell what it was, I may not want medical advice from him in the first place. The second stop, a dispensary/clinic, was far better- the doc knew the scientific name with a moment’s glance. Far more legit. In under five minutes I was out and passenger-free, to my very great relief. The rest of the group arrived from Kalinzi an hour or so later, and we met them at the hotel to recount the tale. The evening was by far more relaxing than the day- we chilled at Zanzibar Hill for a bit, reveled in the wonders of running water and showers (not heated, not that it mattered), and laundry detergent – that stuff is magic, I swear.

After a leisurely walk and dinner, we returned, and treated ourselves to a movie off Thabo’s computer. The six of us stuffed onto one bed to watch “Howl’s Moving Castle”, which was great. Kim was out cold before it was half done, and the stove guys (who have been staring at fires for the past few months and are probably crazy) insisted that Calcifer the talking fire was in fact very accurate. I, for my part, admit to having watched that movie more times than I remember, so I am in no position to judge. Saturday was filled with absolute madness as we checked out, got all our commissioned works picked up from the metalworkers and carpenters (yay, a compound press! I’m so excited!) and tried to get reasonably priced transportation up the road to Kalinzi. We were back in good time, with enough of the day left to even do some work. Emil and I got together a rough outline of what’s left to do in our 3 weeks left here (yikes!). I can’t believe that’s all that’s left- it seems such a short time; I just got here! In just two days Dahms will be back here from Kenya, and Ritta and Tuma will be joining our field station as well. It is going to get quite cozy here, no mistake, but having two translators will make a lot of tasks seem more manageable.

Today marked our first testing of the compound press and char making machine, with varied results, as Kevin and Kim went off to talk to various stove users about how the rocket stoves are doing in people’s kitchens. They had been gone for a while when suddenly Kim sprints up to the field station, dashes into her room, rifles through multiple duffels grabbing things and stuffing them into her bag, breathlessly says something about a guy on a bike, and leaves just as fast as she came. Or at least, that’s how it seemed on my end, so I’ll turn it over to her to explain what actually happened more accurately than I can.

 Colleen’s description is pretty accurate, although I had more on my mind than thinking about how crazy I looked to the group at the field station. Kevin, Stan and I were just finishing up our meeting at Nasura’s house, which is conveniently located on the main road. There was a scuttle of activity from the children who were watching cords being placed in the ditch that crisscrosses the town (Kalinzi is getting internet!), and then we heard a crash. An elderly man, riding one bike and somehow carting another bike alongside his own, had fallen on the pavement. Kevin, who is Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certified, and I, the only pre-medical student in the group, ran into action. My job was to run back up the hill to grab first aid supplies, while Kevin helped assess and stabilize the man. That’s when my path crossed with those at the field station, and I was indeed quite breathless and incoherent (both from adrenaline and from my lack of strenuous exercise this summer). By the time I returned to the scene the man had been boarded onto the back of a large truck. With the permission of the locals, Kevin, Stan and I hopped on for the 10 minute ride to the hospital in Matyazo. I finally saw the extent of the wounds: scrapes on his toes, knee, hands, and, most severely, open gashes on his upper lip, cheekbone and brow bone. The ride was *extremely* bumpy, so our original plan to flush out the wound with fresh water and a sterile 60 mL syringe was impossible without risking squirting water all over the man or poking him in the face. Ten minutes of attempting to stabilize the man’s head (he was mostly unresponsive) while also stabilizing ourselves and wiping around the wound ensued before carrying him off the truck and into a bed in the hospital. Having explained as much information about the incident as possible, through Stan, to the nurses, we headed back towards Kalinzi.

With everyone back at the field station and evening setting in, our various tasks of the day are winding down. Dinner ought to be done before too long, and I plan on spending the evening reading and wishing I had more to read- these will be spent before too long, and I just know that I will be wanting other books very, very soon…

1 comment:

  1. Interesting experiences, I should say! Kim, of all the first aid supplies you gathered I hope rubber gloves were amongst them! I say that as a mother, nurse and someone who has worked in the OR for 30 years and doesn't touch bodily fluids without them! Sounds like lots of blood at the scene. You must have found that experience exhilarating if not a little scary...It sounds like your work is coming along satisfactorily and will hopefully be implemented sometime soon. All of you stay safe and make wise decisions!