Friday, July 29, 2011

Dahms' Blog Post

28 July 2011

I have arrived safely back to Kalinzi and reunited with the group
could not be be happier; it was such a relief to see their familiar
faces and the incredible work and progress they have made with the
projects. For the past ten days I have been in transit to Nairobi
after an encounter with a bat in the field station on our first night
here. After waking up, I was folding up my mosquito net and realized
there was a bat hanging on the outside of it right next to where my
head had been resting all night. Initially, I did not see any bite
marks or anything so I thought nothing of it, but after looking on the
internet I found that most of the time one may not see a bat bite and
to seek medical attention if one thinks they have been exposed to a
bat. Since I had been sleeping on the floor and was brushing up
against the mosquito net for most of the night I was quite concerned
that the bat may have bitten me during the night (I have even
convinced myself that I did feel something nip my head that night).

Due to this paranoia I went to Kigoma Regional Hospital with Stan and
Colleen to receive the vaccine; however, the doctor was not in and I
had to wait until morning. We ended up spending the night at Stan’s
sister’s house in Kigoma, which was absolutely beautiful and the
family was so incredibly hospitable. The next morning I went to the
hospital and received the vaccine and we headed back to Kalinzi.
I contacted Dick’s House that afternoon to alert them of the incident
and they recommended that I contact International SOS to confirm that
the vaccine I received was sufficient treatment for my potential
exposure. After contacting ISOS, I was told that I needed to receive
the Human Rabies Immunoglobulin (HRIG) injection within a week of
exposure in order to give my body the antibodies to fight the virus
before the vaccine I received started working. The HRIG injection is
apparently quite expensive and very scarce medicine everywhere in
Africa and so ISOS had to call to various hospitals as far as South
Africa to see if they had enough of it to administer to me. HRIG was
eventually found in Nairobi, and ISOS set about planning my travel
arrangements to get to Nairobi. I should take this time to point out
that ISOS, Dartmouth (namely Jessica Friedman, Lisa Adams, and Carrie
Fraser), and my friends and family were unbelievably patient and
helpful when my unnecessary paranoia was really getting the best of me
during this time of arranging travel plans, thank you guys so much.
ISOS was super efficient in arranging my transportation to Nairobi,
and I cannot thank them enough for it.

I left on Thursday the 14th and flew to Mwanza in a small 8 row single
prop plane, which was quite a thrilling experience. I arrived in
Mwanza, and our good friend and translator Revo was there to greet me
with a hug and a smile. I spent the night in Revo’s room and got up
the next morning with him to figure out the issues he was having with
his school results for the semester. Revo got everything corrected
that morning and we headed into town for a little where we picked up
some awesome sandals made of waste rubber products before I flew to
Nairobi. Revo set me up with a taxi to the airport and at 4:30 I was
on my way to Nairobi. I was driven directly to the hotel in Nairobi
where I ate dinner and went to sleep relatively quickly.

I had my appointment with Dr. Saio at Nairobi Hospital at 11:30 the
next morning, where he gave me a thorough examination and made an
assessment to begin a new vaccine schedule. He said that the malaria
medication I was taking may have hurt my immune system and made the
vaccine less effective, so he prescribed me Malarone and put me on the
reduced Intramuscular schedule of Verorab with an immunoglobulin
inject ion as well. I was sent to the emergency room after meeting
with Dr. Saio, where I was given the immunoglobulin and my first two
doses of Verorab. They decided to keep me in the hospital for 24 hours
in order to monitor me, so I spent Saturday in a hospital bed but was
given very sufficient meals and excellent care throughout. I was
brought back to the hotel after the hospital and began speaking with
ISOS about my transportation back to Tanzania.

Unfortunately there were no flights until the end of the week so I
would have to spend several extra days in Nairobi, which was not ideal
considering I wanted to get back to group and the fact that I had only
brought one set of clothes with me and had already been in Nairobi for
3 days. While waiting for my flight back, I began outlining a bit of
the report and did some exploring of Nairobi. I met up with Kiko Lam,
a Dartmouth ’14 working in Nairobi and Nakuru for the summer. We got
lunch and then met up with Kathy Vaughan, a Dartmouth Alum, who Kiko
was staying with in Nairobi. Kathy and her husband Tsila were
incredibly generous throughout my time in Nairobi, having me over for
dinner a couple times, and even taking me around Nairobi for a day.

Since my flight at the end of the week got cancelled I was able to
explore a bit more of Nairobi, especially the Upper Hill and Westlands
area, along with center city. Kathy was even gracious enough to
contact Technoserve, an NGO in Nairobi that has a coffee growing
initiative, telling them about DHE’s projects and putting me in touch
with them. The day before I left for Tanzania I got coffee with Kathy
at the Ole Sereni, a hotel that overlooks Nairobi National Park. We
then stopped by IHUB, an exciting tech based community center that
gives members opportunities to collaborate on computer programming
projects and other academic endeavors. I then had a meeting with
Alice, the Sustainability Advisor with Technoserve’s Coffee
Initiative. Though our meeting was brief it was very informative and
encouraging. She said that coffee husk briquetting has been going on
for nearly 3 years in Western Kenya on a variety of scales, from small
individual hand briquetting, to marketable 5 kg packs. She was also
interested in our coffee husk stove project, stating that currently
people in that region use sawdust stoves but do not have a means of
burning raw coffee husks. Hopefully we will be able to maintain
contact with her and gain more knowledge about the briquetting process
and setting up a market for the program, while sharing information
regarding a coffee husk burning stove.

It has been awesome being back in Kalinzi with the group, getting up
to speed with the projects and hanging out with this unbelievable
group again. Of course the paranoia I experienced for that first week
was almost definitely unwarranted, considering two of the doctors I
saw in Tanzania had never heard of people getting rabies from bats
(one said that he would prescribe me whiskey to relax), I truly
appreciate all of the precautions that Dartmouth and ISOS took to
ensure that I was treated properly. I once again want to thank
everyone here in Kalinzi and Kigoma, our advisors back at Dartmouth,
the people at ISOS, all of the doctors, and my family and friends here
and at home for all their support and help throughout this process. It
was really incredible how smoothly everything went.

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