You may be wondering...

..who I am:
My name is Amanda Baxley and I am from the teeny town of Hartsville, South Carolina. I went to the College of Charleston and graduated in 2006 with a BA in Biology and a minor in Psychology. After taking a year off to work, I got accepted to the Medical University of South Carolina College of Nursing. I graduated from the Accelerated BSN program this past December and am now officially a RN!!! I have had the same amazing boyfriend for the past 4 years now and will hopefully be lucky enough to be engaged to him very soon! And I definitely can't go without mentioning the other love in my sweet, adorable 4 year old Daschund named Sadie. She is my best friend and always beside me!

...what this blog is all about:
Giving others a chance to experience Livingstone, Zambia right along with me.

...when I will be in Zambia:
From January 31 until March 2 of this year.

...where Livingstone, Zambia is located:
Livingstone is the current capital of Zambia, a country in the southern portion of Africa. Livingstone is approximately 10km south of Victoria Falls, one of the largest waterfalls in the world.

...why I am going there:
To provide healthcare to the disadvantaged citizens of Livingstone. Zambia is one of the world's poorest countries in the world and, as a result, healthcare is ineffecient. Because of the lack of adequate healthcare and health related education, Zambia is one of the countries in Sub-Saharan Africa most affected by HIV and AIDS. Growing up, I was lucky enough to see the way that my dad cared about people other than himself. So...long story short, about 10 months ago, I made the decision to go to Zambia so that I could begin using my medical skills like my father used his - to help those that are unable (no matter what the reason) to help themselves.

“For the first time in human history, we have the science, the technology, and the money to end extreme poverty. With this unprecedented historic opportunity comes the responsibility to act”.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Amazing news!!!!

This morning I got the most amazing news......Brave has received the two boxes of medical supplies!!!! I called him this morning just to chat, expecting to hear him say that he still hasn't received the shipments from me - but, instead, he suprises me by saying that he picked both boxes up from the Livingstone Post Office earlier this morning!! He then goes on to tell me something that immediately gives me goosebumps and makes me cry (these were happy tears....sad tears were nowhere in sight this morning). Not too long ago (just a little while before I arrived in Livingstone) the Livingstone District Health Management Team finished construction on a building behind Maramba Clinic. They planned to use this building as additional clinic rooms, laboratory space, an HIV and TB testing area, etc. While I was in Livingstone volunteering, they were just beginning to move into this new building and were all thrilled about the MUCH needed space they finally had - they had been working on everything involved with this new building for so, so long, and finally their work had paid off - it really was wonderful to see. Well, Brave explained to me this morning that the staff at Maramba were all prepared to start having clinic in this building (as well as continue having it in the older building as well) but, quite simply, did not have enough medical supplies to do any of this. So, in other words, they were not going to be able to have any clinic at all at Maramba until they were able to get the medical supplies that they needed - and with no clinic services available at Maramba, hundreds upon hundreds of people would go without medical care. He then excitedly told me that this was no longer a problem because they had received the supplies that we had sent over to them. Because of the supplies that they now had, they were going to be able to continue providing medical care to the people of Maramba - for as long as these supplies will last. At this point in the conversation, I was totally covered in goosebumps and the tears were flowing. But then he proceeded to make this news even more special by telling me how absolutely grateful he is to the people of "South Caroleena" (I adore the way he pronounces's really is) who had decided to help the people of Livingstone. He said to me, "Oh my god...what you all have done...oh my god...I can't even explain how much it will help the people...thank you, thank you. Oh my god...the blood sugar machines...the syringes...the surgery blades...thank you, thank you."

So, needless to say, the news that I got this morning was amazing. I worked with, lived with, laughed with, and made lifelong memories with the people of Livingstone. The best friends that I have ever had and will ever have are from Livingstone. I love these people with all of my heart. The love that you all are showing to them by giving what you can is making an impact in their lives and I want to thank you. From the bottom of my heart I thank you for helping these people that are so incredibly important to me. I can't even put into words how grateful I am for everyone's love and support. Thank you!

Now that I know that Brave will receive the boxes that we ship, I am going to continue sending them as long as people are willing to make donations. So, please spread the word!!!! Let me know if anyone wants to make a donation! Thank you again.....

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Still waiting....

Wow.....what a crazy week this has been. My life has gotten so much more complicated since I returned from Africa. I really don't like how complex everything is here in the US - and people don't realize that life doesn't have to be so difficult! Everyone thinks that having lots of "things" will make them happy.....and if you don't have lots of "things" then you will lead such a depressing life. But I have come to understand that the more "things" you have, the worse life gets. The people of Zambia are such happy people and lead such joyful lives. Others may view them as "poor" and "poverty stricken".....but in reality, they are the richest and most fulfilled people that I have ever met. They don't base their happiness on whether or not they have material things.......they base their happiness on whether or not they have things like love and friendship. Man....I miss it there.....I really, really do. I can't wait to go back.....

To date, I have mailed two boxes of medical supplies over to Brave. Since mailing the second box, I have been given 350 more dollars from some very caring and generous people to use to pay for shipping more boxes! So, I spoke to Brave yesterday and he said that he has not received the first two boxes yet. I mailed them on March 13, so hopefully they will get there soon. But, I am going to wait probably about another week before I ship any more - during that time I will hopefully hear that he has received the first two. If not, then I will know that something may need to be changed with the shipping! But, I will post updates along the way! Thanks again to everyone that has been helping out! Couldn't do it without ya.........

Monday, March 16, 2009

Box #2

So box #2 has been shipped! :) I sent it off today and it contained:

400 tongue depressors

200 q-tip applicators

300 alcohol pads

100 oral swabsticks

23 iodine swabsticks

482 needles - all different gauges

10 packs sterile surgical gloves

1 foley tray

293 syringes

100 lancets

100 surgical steel blades

100 small oval eye pads

280 gauze sponges

The package weighed a total of 14 pounds, 6.2 ounces and the total postage fees were $89.50. Donations are still being made by some amazing people and I already have $150 donated towards the next couple of boxes! So, I'm getting the next ones together! I talked with Brave today on the phone and told him about all the support. He says "Thank you" and that we are "helping the clinics more than we even know". I am so excited about him receiving the boxes and will be talking with him again soon, so I will keep everyone updated. Thanks again guys!!!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Photos and Videos

I just realized that after you click on the link to view my pictures and videos, you have to either have a Snapfish account or create one before you can view anything. If you don't want to create an account then you can just use mine - so when it asks for an e-mail address type in: and then the password is jan71984. Sorry about that!!!!

Box #1 shipped!!

The first box of supplies has been shipped!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm so excited about this and can't wait for Brave to receive the box in Zambia - it should take about 8 - 10 days to get to him. The box weighed 12 pounds 10 ounces and contained:

8 glucometers (blood sugar machines)
1300 test strips for the glucometers
24 5cc syringes
21 barrier dressings
500 safety seal lancets
6 AAA batteries for the glucometers

I was able to send all of this for $79.00!! It sounds like a pretty big chunk of change but the estimated value of all the medical supplies in the box was over $2500! Can you believe that? Last night, I received another $100 donation! So, I am in the process now of putting together the second box of medical supplies! I am so excited and so grateful to everyone that has helped out so far! Thank you guys so much. And if anyone else is interested in making a donation then please e-mail me at Or, if you would rather it be an anonymous donation, then you can send a check to: 812 Prestwood Drive, Hartsville, SC 29550.
Thanks again!!!!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

My photos and videos from the trip!

Hey everyone! All my photos and videos are finally uploaded! Click on the link on the right!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Shipping rates

Wow.....figuring out rates and what all is involved with the process of international shipping is harder than I imagined. But...I think I finally figured it out! The picture that I have posted is the first box that I am sending over to Maramba Clinic! Here are the rates that I found on the USPS website:

Small box (5-7 pounds): shipping cost of $53-$63

Medium box (7-10 pounds): $63 - $79

Large box (10-15 pounds): $79 - $108

Extra large box (15 pounds and above): starts at $108

The maximum shipping weight to Zambia is 70 pounds so you could definitely donate more if you would like. Most of the medical supplies that I am sending are ones that don't really weigh that much (like gauze, syringes, alcohol swabs, etc.) so 5-7 pounds may not sound like that much initially, but it actually takes quite a lot of small stuff together to add up to 5-7 pounds. And then for the larger boxes, I will be able to send the supplies that tend to weigh a little more than the others (glucometers, bottles of peroxide/rubbing alcohol, etc.) Please think about making a donation! The clinics that I worked in while in Livingstone really are in terrible need of these supplies. Please e-mail me at if you would like to help out!

The pictures and videos from my trip will be up by tonight on Snapfish! I will post the web address here!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Adjusting to life back in the states

First of all, to all of those that have been following my blog over the past month, I want to apologize for not having written anything since returning from my trip. The first couple of days at home were spent sleeping off the terrible jet lag that the 19 hour plane ride gave to me. Since arousing from my coma-like state, I have been unpacking and showing pictures to some of my friends and family. The trip back to the states started Monday (March 2) and did not end until the next afternoon. 19 full hours on a plane, in the same seat, in the same clothes, no bath (not even a quick rub-down with a Handi-wipe!!!), and about an hour of sleep. It was definitely not that fun. But, it was hard to muster up the strength to throw myself a pity party because I was too overcome with thoughts about Livingstone. I was not only having to leave a place that I had come to consider home, but I was also having to leave people that I had come to consider family. Every single ounce of my being wanted to stay. I remember how I felt when I first landed in Livingstone - I remember thinking to myself, "Wow...this is really going to be such a loooooooonnnngggg month". But, after just a couple of days, I felt so at home - I remember feeling as if I had finally found where I belonged - I had finally found my place in the world. The time passed so quickly and I really, really, really wish that I had planned to stay in Livingstone longer. But, I know for an absolute fact that I will return to Livingstone as soon as I possibly can. I have already started saving money to pay for my next trip and as soon as I have saved enough, I will be on the first plane back to Zambia. And this time around, I will stay there much longer!

While I was in Livingstone, I was lucky enough to make a best friend. His name is Brave and he was born and raised in Livingstone. He is the medical project coordinator for the Livingstone division of African Impact. He is 27 years old and has almost the exact same personality and outlook on life that I have - so, we hit it off pretty much immediately. I find it very hard to put into words how amazing of a person he is - but just take my word for it - anyone that is lucky enough to meet him should feel blessed. On our time off from projects, he made sure to show me all the different parts of Livingstone. He also introduced me to all of his friends. Every single one of them welcomed me with open arms and quickly became good friends of mine as well. I enjoyed every moment that I got to spend with this group (I spent most of my free time with these guys) and I can't wait to see them again will be such an emotional reunion I'm sure.
Since Brave is the medical project coordinator and I was a part of the medical project, we worked in the clinic together most everyday. By working so closely with him, I was given the chance to see how the clinic runs on a day to day basis. While working, I saw how badly the clinics need medical supplies. Brave and the other medical staff are unable to do a lot of medical procedures because they simply do not have what they need. It really struck a chord with me and made me realize how spoiled I am. Because in the hospitals here, as a nurse, I have never had to deal with not having what I need. I always know that anything I may need for a patient is only a phone call away. Medical staff in Zambia are unable to do this and therefore have to rely on the medical skills that they possess to get things done. Because of this, they are the best healthcare professionals that I have ever met. I would trust them with my life - no doubt about it.
Their need for medical supplies made an impression on me so when I got home, I decided to try and help out the people and staff at Maramba clinic (the clinic where Brave and I worked). I know that the free clinic in Darlington receives donations of medical supplies on a pretty regular basis so I asked my mom if there were any extra supplies that I could send to Brave. She said yes and proceeded to give me an enormous amount of things that will be SOOOOO helpful for Maramba clinic to have. But then, the problem of international shipping costs decided to raise its ugly head. It is pretty expensive to ship things to Zambia and since I have just returned from a month long trip, I have absolutely no money at all. So this is what I decided to do - I am going to give anyone who is interested the opportunity to help me in this endeavor. I have small, medium, large, and extra large sized shipping containers. The international shipping cost depends on how large or small the package is that you are shipping - so, in other words, small boxes will cost less to ship than medium boxes; medium boxes will cost less to ship than large boxes and so on....So, you decide what size box you would like to pay the shipping cost for and after you make the monetary donation, I pack the box full of medical supplies and use the money that you donated to ship it over to Brave. I will include a card inside of the box that will have your name, address, and a personal message from you (this is optional!!!) to Brave and the other clinic staff members. I have already been given $100 by a very sweet friend of mine and am using this money to send over the first box full of supplies next week. I am going to do some research over the next day or two and find out exactly how much it will cost to ship the different size boxes. After I find this out, I will post the prices on my blog so that you can check them out if you are interested. You can e-mail me at if you would like to help out.
Please consider making a donation because why throw away this overflow of medical supplies??? Instead, let's send the overflow to an incredible community in Africa that needs these supplies! Thanks everybody!!!!

Oh, by the way, I am uploading all of my pictures from the trip to Snapfish today and will post the website after I am done uploading. So, if you are interested in seeing my photos, you will have access to them through this website. I will post the web address in a day or two!!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Back in Hartsvegas...

Hey guys! I am back at home and just wanted to let everyone know that I will update my posts and post some pictures as well - but after I take a much needed nap!!! That 19 hour plane ride almost killed please check for updates within the next day!!!!

Monday, March 2, 2009

February 26, 2009

Today I had my last HIVE class. HIVE (Human Immunodeficiency Virus Education) is a class that I teach to Zambian natives at Maramba Farm every Thursday afternoon. I, along with another medical volunteer (I was with Gillian for two weeks and Laura for one week), and Brave teach this class to a group of Zambians that are interested. It is a 5 week course that ends with a final exam – if they show up to every class and pass the final exam then they are graduates of the HIVE program. They receive a certificate at the end as well as a picture of themselves with their instructor. I really have enjoyed teaching this class and wish that I could be here for the last one but unfortunately I am leaving on Monday to go home! L I like teaching this class because it allows me to use some of my nursing knowledge and it also allows me to get to know a select group of Zambians really well. I will definitely miss this group when I leave.
Today we talked about Voluntary Counseling and Testing which is a process by which patients are provided with HIV counseling services as well as an HIV test. VCT is completely and totally confidential (which is a major issue because of the amount of discrimination that can happen if people know that you are HIV positive). We then talked about the medical treatment of HIV. I discussed the side effects of taking Anti-retroviral medications and what you can do to combat these side effects.
It was really quite sad to finish this class today because I knew that I would not see these people again for awhile. Although I plan to return to Zambia within the next year, I have become really close to all of the HIVE participants and it is going to be heartbreaking to leave them.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

February 23, 2009

I can’t believe that I am leaving here a week from today. It literally seems like only yesterday that I was stepping off of the plane at the Livingstone airport saying, “I can’t believe I am actually in Africa! Wow…it is really hot here!” But now, 3 weeks have passed so quickly and I don’t want to go home. I miss Bradley, my family, and Sadie but I feel as if this place really has become my second home. I have made so many friends – most of them locals – Brave, Bennie, Mulopa, Victor, Chris, Sharon, Ivy, Ronnie, Alex, Dillon, and Dominic and I am going to miss them with my whole heart. They are all the most amazing, friendly, welcoming, loving people that I have ever been blessed to meet and I have loved every minute that I have spent with them. They have all played a major part in making me a better individual. I feel like a completely new person and I am so content with myself as a person. I never thought that I would be able to say that but, after this trip, I can honestly say that I have such a sense of calm within. I have made lifetime friends and these people really are ones that will stay in my heart forever. The experiences that I have had here have all been ones that I am so lucky to have had and I know that they have changed me for the better. I feel like I have finally been given a pair of glasses that have allowed me to see what has been in front of my face my whole life. I have also been able to finally see how truly blessed I am in my life. I used to take so many things for granted that I know will never be taken advantage of again. I really, really hope that this feeling never fades and will remain as amazing to me as it is now. I’m really going to enjoy every minute of this last week…..

February 21, 2009

Today I went to Zambezi Sun for the first time! I can’t believe that I have been here for almost 3 weeks now and have not been to this resort yet. The staff let African Impact volunteers use the pool on the weekends – as long as we buy a drink or something while we are there. It is an amazing place and would be such a cool place to go on your honeymoon b/c it is right beside Vic Falls! I mean, it literally took us 2 minutes to walk to the falls from the pool! Amazing!! While you lay out by the pool, there is a band over by the bar that plays really relaxing African music. They had all these African instruments that made the music sound even better than it already was. While we were at the pool swimming and sunbathing, a herd of zebra walked by the pool on the way to go munch on some grass!! Yeah….an actual herd of zebra! How cool is it that I am now able to say, “So…the other day, I was laying out by the pool and looked up from reading my book, only to realize that about 7 or 8 zebra were coming towards me”! Yeah…pretty awesome huh?! I was absolutely speechless but was able to grab my camera and get a pretty good video of the whole thing. About an hour later, I was lying in the shallow end of the pool still reading the book when, out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw something move. Well, I looked up and saw a monkey running over to where my lounge chair was. I had heard that the monkeys around this resort were really notorious for stealing food and other things from the guests at the pool. So, as soon as I saw the monkey making its way towards my lounge chair, I just knew that he had his mind set on getting something of mine. I started to climb out of the pool to try and go stop the monkey but as soon as I stood up, I saw him hop on my chair, reach over to the table beside the chair, and steal my pack of breath savers that I had opened just 15 minutes before. I was so surprised that I just kind of loudly said “Hey! That monkey just stole my mints!!” My waiter just happened to be nearby at the time and promptly decided to throw down his tray and run after the monkey. So…just imagine seeing this….a red butted monkey (that also had really obvious, crazy looking blue balls) sprinting across a lawn with a stolen pack of mints in his mouth – and following quickly behind is a young, African, sharply dressed waiter that has a look of absolute determination on his face. He didn’t catch up with the monkey but it was absolutely hilarious…and now that monkey has some serious fresh breath.

Walking Safari

February 15, 2009

Went on a walking safari today! Gemi, Corrine, Johanna, and I had to be at the post office at 6:45 am! Awfully early but it was pretty worth it! Other than the 4 of us, there was another man on the safari that I swear looked exactly like Mr. Bean! I tried to take a photo of him during the safari but I don’t think that it turned out very well. He had the huge nose and the buck teeth and everything! It was hilarious! Anyway, on our way to the bush, we picked up a man named Katongo. His job was to protect us during the safari. He carried around an AK-47 (no lie) and was supposed to shoot up in the air to scare any animals away that might charge. It was pretty scary actually but also really cool at the same time. I had never seen an AK-47 in real life before so I was pretty amazed. About halfway through the safari we took a little snack break. As we were sitting by the jeep eating our egg salad sandwiches, I got up and went over to speak to Katongo and our safari guide. I started a little conversation and ended up talking about the AK-47 that he was carrying around with him. He asked if I wanted to take a picture while holding the gun. Of course I said yes but told him to make sure that the safety was on before I put it into my hands – he chuckled a little and then pushed the gun into my arms. All I could think to myself was, “Oh my god…I’m holding an AK-47…I really hope I don’t kill anyone”. I just had this horrible picture in my head of me accidentally dropping the gun and it unloading on everyone as it bounced on the ground. Not a good mental picture at all. But, we posed for two pictures and they turned out really good. I was wearing khaki shorts and a green top so I looked like I was meant to be holding the gun. It is really hilarious and I can’t wait to be able to post it so everyone can see.
The beginning of the safari was very, very boring – no animals to see except for a lot of impala. And they would run off as soon as we got close to them. So, the guide was I guess feeling a little antsy b/c he was not able to “please” his customers. So, he began talking to us about plants that we passed while walking. He kept on and on and on with this plant talk and it really started to frustrate me a lot. I paid $60 to go on an ANIMAL safari, not a botanical safari. Well, after we saw a lot of plants, the guide decided that he would move on to talking about dung beetles. So, we found a big pile of rhino poop and the guide proceeded to talk about the iridescent color of the dung beetles and how some of them were small and some of them were large. Oh my god…it was terrible. But then, finally, we started to see some animals. I was really excited to see an animal but I was even more excited about not hearing anything else about beetles that survive off of poo. We ended up seeing zebra, wildebeest, monkeys, a warthog, buffalo, giraffe, an elephant, and a really big lizard. It ended up being a really exciting experience but I was slightly disappointed b/c I expected to be able to get a lot closer to the animals than we did. I also expected to see a lot more animals than we did as well. But….hey…..I got to hold an AK-47 while standing in the African bush…..that’s pretty good if I do say so myself.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

February 15, 2009

I forgot to write something in here the other day that was really pretty special. The Zambian African Impact has a house handyman that can fix absolutely everything. Well, he got a pretty terrible cut on his right pointer finger about a week ago when he was fixing something at the house. About a day after it happened, Lucy, the project coordinator, called me over to where they were standing so that I could see what I thought should be done about it. He told me that he had been to the clinic and that all they had given him was Panadol for the pain and had said that they were going to have to amputate the finger. He was very upset for obvious reasons but also because he is the house handyman - so if he is unable to use his hand for awhile then he would most surely lose his job. So, after looking at his finger for a little while, I decided that it was definitely infected because it was swollen to about 3 times the normal size - the swelling had also spread to the palm and the front of his hand as well and he was in a significant amount of pain. If this had happened to him in the states then it would have been cleaned, bandaged, and he would have been given a 2 week dose of an antibiotic and he would have been fine - I'm sure that there would have been no talk of amputation. But, in Zambia, amputation is a very common treatment b/c antibiotics are not readily available and if they were, no one would be able to afford them. So, I got out the first aid kit that Luke had given to me before I left - I cleaned the wound with betadine, put some gauze over it, wrapped it, and taped it. I also gave him some of the Doxycycline that Bradley had given to me before I left. Doxy would definitely not have been what I would have recommended for him if we were in the US but I figured that it was better for him to take something than nothing. He was very grateful and said thank you about a million times. So for the next couple of days, I would come home for lunch and clean and re-wrap his finger for him. A couple of days ago, about 3 days after I first looked at his finger, I was doing the daily rewrap on it and I asked him how he was feeling. He looked at me and said, "I know God sent you and I thank him. I was going to lose this finger but you saved it. I couldn't move it and now look (he bent his finger back and forth)...the clinic was going to cut it off but you gave me pills and cleaned feels like brand new. I called my wife last night and told her 'This white lady from America saved my finger. She is here to volunteer and she didn't have to care about this but she does and she checks on it everyday. She really cares and now I won't have to have it cut off. God sent her to me.' I thank you...I really thank you. It probably was the sweetest, most heartfelt thing that anyone has ever said to me. And now that I helped him out, I have become pretty much "the medicine woman" for the staff. The bus driver came to me for "flu medicine" (I gave him Tylenol), the sports project manager had a bad cut on her knee from rafting - she came to me and I dermabonded it for is really cool. I really enjoy it......This was definitely an experience that will stick with me for a lifetime.

Monday, February 16, 2009

February 12, 2009

Today was actually a really good day! This morning I did Dambwa Home Based Care with Bex and four home based care givers who were there to translate for us. We saw about 5 patients in total and ended up finishing around 10:30. All the patients that we saw had pretty significant health problems that needed to be seen by a doctor but all of them had transport problems. One lady had a necrotic left great toe. After I assessed her and asked her some questions, I finally came to the conclusion that she had an infection in her left foot. I told her that I was unable to gie her any antibiotics b/c we don't carry those around with us but that she really needs to be seen by a doctor at the clinic b/c the infection could spread and she could end up losing part of her leg. She responded to me by saying that getting to the clinic was very hard to do b/c it is quite a long walk and she hadn't eaten since Saturday (and keep in mind this was on Wednesday!). I came to find out that she quite frequently did not have enough food and she was therefore too weak to walk to the clinic. Uggghhh!!! It was so hard to not really be able to do anything for her other than give her some Panadol for the pain and tell her that we would try to arrange some sort of transport for her. It's really frustrating for me to go to someone's home to help them get better and have to just walk away without getting them on the road to a cure. I felt like all I did was give a little advice and say, "Hope you get to feeling better!" But, I guess I did all that I could do given the circumstances.
In the afternoon I did HIVE (Human Immunodeficiency Virus Education) with Bex, Gillian, and Brave. Since it was my first time doing HIVE, I really just sat back and listened to Bex and Gillian teach. Brave interpreted for them and did such a good job - he is so animated that he just demands everyone's attention. All the people in the class were constantly taking notes and were not really able to pay attention or ask any questions so I decided to make a pamphlet for the next HIVE classes. It has a diagram on the inside that describes (with pictures that I drew) what the HIV virus does to your body and on the other sides, as well as the back, it talks about how you can get HIV and how to protect yourselves and others that you may come in contact with. I am quite proud of it and am going to take it into town and make about 50 copies of it to hand out to the class so that they don't have to write so many notes. It is only about 500 kwacha per double sided copy - which comes out to about $3.00 for all the copies - so it is definitely something that I can afford. It will be a little donation from me......

Saturday, February 14, 2009

February 11, 2009

This morning I went to the Hospice Center. I really, really like that place and am really glad that that I got to go there with Laura. She is a really sweet person and I am sure that lots of her patients in the UK love having her as their GP. The Hospice House is a pretty big place and is a lot nicer than I imagined it to be. The view from the back porch is unlike anything that I have ever seen - there is like a 360 degree view of the Zambian countryside. I'm sure the patients there find it a very relaxing place to be. The nursing staff and the nursing students started the morning off by singing a prayer. Laura and I obviously did not know the words but we clapped right along with them. They all had such beautiful voices and really harmonized well. After this, Laura and I went around to all the patients and did exercises with them. Since most of them are not able to get out of bed, we found that they really enjoyed being able to move their muscles a little bit. They all worked so hard on their exercises and I was thoroughly impressed with how badly they wanted to get better - it was such a huge difference from what I see back at home. I'm so used to having to make patients do things like their exercises that not having to do this was huge!!!! I love their positive attitudes.

There was a patient at the Hospice House that had Parksinson's disease. He was a young man named Joseph that used to be a professional soccer player. He talked about missing being able to run - so, in order to take his mind off of his sadness, we took about 5 or 6 walks that morning. He loved it and wanted to keep going for more and more walks. It really was sweet yet heartbreaking at the same time. When I first saw Joseph, I was instantly reminded of my dad. He was so similar to Dad in so many ways - at least how Dad used to be when he first got sick. The facial expression that never changes (always looks as if he is wearing a mask), the trembling lower lip, the shuffling gate, the blank stare, the loud swallowing, the trembling hands, and the obvious weight loss. The similarities were astounding and it really made me sad to know that diseases like Parkinson's are present in such amazing places - why does a country as open and loving as Zambia have to be affected by diseases like this? Why must there be suffering here? It brings up many, many questions in my mind. Joseph's best friend at the Hospice Center was a young boy named Kennedy who had cerebral palsy. After Laura and I woke Kennedy up from his Haldol induced sleep, we wheeled him out to the porch to sit next to Joseph. They sat on the porch together and played with Kennedy's truck. It was such a beautiful moment and I was really touched by it. Two lives, both striken by terrible disease and heartache, end up coming together to form one unbreakable friendship. Simply amazing.....

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

February 8, 2009

1 down, 6 to go!!!!!! I went and saw 1 wonder of the world today...Victoria Falls!! It really, really was the most beatiful thing that I have ever seen. Walking over the bridge, over the falls, while getting sprayed by the water was thrilling, refreshing, and life changing! I stood on the bridge today alone and just watched the water come down - I began to cry b/c I was simply amazed and in awe of what I was witnessing. The tears were uncontrollable and were a result of the most honest feeling that I have ever had. The falls in front of me were enormous and so majestic - it really made me realize how enormous and majestic this world really is. We as humans, b/c we are human, tend to think that our problems or the struggles that we go through everyday are the largest and most significant issues that anyone could ever be forced to go through. I know that my life has, and is still having, some pretty difficult situations. But, standing on the bridge today, as my tears mixed with the spray off of Victoria Falls, I realized how small we are compared to the vastness of the Earth. I saw how truly small my "huge" problems are - although they seem to take up so much space in my life, they really are just a small, tiny piece of the life that I have been given. The beauty that surrounded me today was incomprehensible and I am so very lucky that I was able to witness it. Life is about having moments like the one that I had today - I vow that I will fill this life with more moments like this. Moments that take my breath away and that conjure up emotion that is pure and real.
The only thing that could have made this day any better is if I had been able to witness all of this with Bradley - it was quite a romantic, emotion-inducing place. Having him by my side while standing on that bridge would have made today absolutely perfect. He is who I am meant to spend the rest of my life with, the one that I want to experience everything with, and the one missing piece of today. But, I know in my heart that I will be standing on that bridge again someday, witnessing the incredible beauty once again - but this time I will have Bradley by my side and the missing piece will no longer be missing - it will be the perfect day.

I remembered!!!

I'm at the internet cafe again tonight and I remembered to bring my journal with me this time! :) So, here are the next couple of journal entries:

February 6, 2009

This morning I went to Libuyu Clinic with Nicole and Bex (two other African Impact volunteers). It is a pretty cool clinic and very easy to work in because I feel as if it is a lot more organized than all the rest. It was really pretty slow in there today but I really welcomed the much needed break. I have literally never been this tired before in my life. I now know what hard work truly is. Since it was pretty slow today, I was able to get to know Bex and Nicole a little better. Nicole is a radiology tech from Canada. She is a really sweet person and easy to get along with. Bex is a student from London. My first impression of her was definitely wrong - I thought that she was kinda snobby at first but after today, I see that she just has a really strong personality and is a very confident person. She is only 18 years old but seems much older - more grown-up than most 18 year olds that I have met. I really, really like her.

Monday, February 9, 2009

I'm an idiot....

So....I spent about 2 hours last night journaling about the last couple of days so that I could post it on the blog. Well...I walked the several miles to the internet cafe today and, once I got there, realized that I had forgotten my journal at the house. I will post all the stuff tomorrow!!! I had such an amazing weekend so I want to tell you guys all about it!!!!!!!!! Please check tomorrow!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Zambezi River

I went whitewater rafting today with a girl named Gemi - she is another medical volunteer for African Impact. We rafted on the Zambezi river, right below Victoria Falls. It was so much fun!!!! We have every weekend off from our projects so we have to do our excursions on either a Saturday or Sunday. Our guide for the day was a Zambian man who goes by the nickname of "Baby face". We really lucked out by getting this guide because he is a really fun person and really knew what he was doing.......thank god! :) There was a point in the rafting trip where we were able to get out of the raft, climb up the side of the canyon, and jump off the cliff into the Zambezi - but only if we wanted to. Well, of course I chose to do it. You could choose to jump from the lower level cliff or from the higher level cliff. Well, of course I chose to jump from the higher one. It was so freaking high.....but it was so thrilling to do. I'm glad that I did it. After we got back into the raft, we had some really scary rapids ahead of us. of the rapids that we went over was named Terminator 2. :) It definitely got the best of soon as we hit the rapid, it flipped the boat over and we all went flying out. As I was being thrown out of the boat, I was hit in the mouth by someone's paddle. Pretty hilarious huh??!!! When I came up out of the water, my immediate reaction was to put my hand to my mouth and check and see if my teeth were still there....and I found that all of them were still in the right place but my mouth was already bruised and swollen. Looking back now, it is really, really funny but at the was really scary. The rest of the trip was so much fun and I soon forgot about my busted lip - although the mirror reminded me about it later. The canyon surrounding the Zambezi river is absolutely beautiful! Gemi and I both said later that it was exactly the way we imagine heaven to be with little waterfalls everywhere and the greenest plants you have ever seen - absolutely incredible. This trip was definitely one for the record books and I can't wait to be able to post all the pictures from it!!!!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

First day at one of the clinics...

February 4, 2009
Wow….sitting on the couch in the common room after my first day of projects. I went to Dwamba clinic in the morning and triaged with Sally. I saw soooo many sick people….adults and babies alike. It was amazing to see these people…they were so sick but still so willing to wait until the doctor was able to see them. There was only one doctor there today and these ladies, with like three sick babies a piece, were so patient and cooperative. I specifically remember one lady who had a child with an incredibly high temperature (like 100.5)….this baby was unable to hold its head up (and it should have been able to at 6 months old!) and its eyes were rolling back in its head. She was so sick and it was so scary to really not be able to do that much for her.
After the clinic, we went back to the house where we had a language lesson. Victor taught us some common words that are used in one of the 12 languages here in Zambia (there are 73 tribes!!!!). I kept a sheet from the lesson and am ready to be able to understand at least a small part of an African language. It impresses me though to see the HUGE amount of natives here that speak English. So impressive….
I then went out to the farms in the afternoon and “slashed” the fields. This was an incredibly difficult job and one that has already given me blisters. You “slash” the fields by swinging this long machete type tool back and forth like you would a golf club. The long fields are cut back like this so that the ground can be used to plant crops – they use it in place of a lawnmower (they don’t have those here). On the Mwramba farms the crops are grown and sold to local restaurants. The money that is made from this is used to support the town orphanage. The ladies that run the farm do it completely voluntarily – no pay whatsoever. Isn’t that incredible?
So, I “slashed” the fields for two and a half hours (yeah….really tired….couldn’t imagine doing it everyday like the ladies that own the farm do) then waited on the bus to come pick us up. While I was waiting, some of the orphans started doing back flips in the air for me so that I would take pictures of them. I took a picture of each one mid-flip. As soon as they were done with their flip, they would run to me, grab hold of my arm, and beg to see the picture. They were so amazed by the fact that they could see themselves on the screen – it was so freaking cute and I could have done it for hours…..

Afternoon of February 3

Just completed my medical induction. The medical project coordinator is a Zambian native by the name of Brave. He is a very animated, verbose (to say the least) man but also a man that is very, very inspiring. He said many, many things that I found myself tearing up over. He was speaking about Africa and how important we as medical volunteers are. He was talking to us about the attitude of the Zambian people and how all Zambians treat one another equally. He says that no matter what region of Zambia a person is from, they all treat each other the same. They intermarry across regions and it is not looked down upon b/c they respect each other – they are one Zambian people. He then said something that gave me goosebumps – he looked at me and asked “If you cut yourself with a pair of scissors, blood will drop on the floor. The blood that will run out of your body will be red. If I cut myself with a pair of scissors, blood will drop on the floor. The blood that will run out of my body will be red. The same color, the same blood – no difference.” Obviously there is emotion that gets lost in translation. But, the heartfelt meaning/truthfulness that I heard in his voice is something that will always be understood.

Patience is definitely a virtue..

The internet connection in Livingstone, Zambia is so temperamental - if there is one cloud in the sky, then there is no internet connection for the ENTIRE day. Getting on the internet has been so difficult here.....the closest free Wi-fi place, which is a cool little restaurant called Zig-Zag, is about 2-3 miles away from the African Impact, I make this walk pretty much everyday - and I never know if I will even be able to get on the internet when I get there. It really makes me realize how much I rely on the internet for communication.....and how the internet really is quite a luxury that all of us in the US take advantage of. I also can't post pictures to the blog because it takes SOOO long to load them on to the blog because of the internet connection.....but, if I continue to find that I am unable to post the pics, then I will definitely post a whole slideshow of them when I get home. Since I haven't been able to keep up with the blog over the last couple of days, I have been journaling most every day. I'm going to post them as separate entries......

February 3, 2009

Raining now…the first time since I got here. It’s absolutely beautiful and so relaxing. Victor has African music playing in the background as I sit at the bar writing. I can’t believe that I am actually in Zambia. It still really hasn’t hit me yet I guess. Today we went around to all the places that we are going to working (induction is what they call it here instead of orientation). Rosie showed us around a couple of schools, a clinic, neighborhoods, farms, and the hospice house. It is really not what I signed up for seeing that I am not going to be doing that much medical work (other than taking vital signs) but a deeper part of me says that I am still making somewhat of a difference. When we showed up at the schools today the kids ran out of their classrooms to greet us. They all had huge smiles on their mud-caked faces and really wanted to just say hello to us and touch us. Several little boys ran up to me as I walked into the classroom and grabbed my hands and just held them and stroked them. It was absolutely amazing and still gives me goosebumps when I think of the pure admiration and gratefulness that I saw in their eyes. As they grabbed my hands they would shout “Teacher, teacher” and just look up at me and smile. I bent down, smiled, and proceeded to teach them the “fist bump” (closing your hand into a fist and bumping knuckles together). They caught on so quickly and wanted to do it over and over again. They are all so adorable and I want all of them to come home with me.
As we arrived, along with saying “Teacher, teacher”, they would also add in the Zambian name for “white person” which is Mazungoo.
Riding down the incredibly bumpy roads today, I looked out at the city/town and thought to myself “Wow…some of the kids, in fact most of them I’m sure, have never had a shower before and they live in mud-houses that have roofs made of garbage – I am so blessed and lucky”. I truly am so blessed and lucky.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

I made it!!!!!!

Well hello everyone!! I made it to Zambia!!! Pretty crazy huh??!! I'm sitting at an internet cafe called ZigZag in Livingstone. The internet connection is really pretty bad here and I have not been able to upload any pictures because of how slow it is, but hopefully I will be able to at some point. I have some really, really cool photos of the view of Zambia from the airplane as well as of downtown Livingstone. The trip down here was incredibly LONG and TIRING but definitely an experience in itself. While in Johannesburg, I stayed at a little paradise of a place called the Safari Club South Africa (please google it because it is awesome)! It was an amazingly beautiful place and somewhere that I hope to return to one day. After an hour and 45 minute flight today, I finally arrived in Livingstone. The heat here is nothing like I have ever felt before but it really cools off in the evening. After I got to the African Impact house, I was given the rest of the day to get myself together and rest. I unpacked and then walked downtown (which is only about a 5 minute walk) and called Bradley and my mom from SKYPE - which really works pretty well given the fact that I am 10,000 miles away. While walking downtown I saw something in the distance that looked like smoke from a fire. I asked the African Impact coordinator about it and she said that what I thought was smoke was actually the mist coming off of Victoria Falls. It was absolutely beautiful and really told me why Victoria Falls used to be called "the smoke that thunders". Tomorrow I am going through an orientation for the project. We are going to be taken to the clinics, houses, farms, and schools that we are going to be working in and I am so excited about finally seeing where I am going to be working!!!! Can't wait for all of the experiences that I am going to have in the next 4 weeks! I also can't wait until I can upload some photos because they are absolutely amazing and I want to share them with everyone!!! Off to bed for me!!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How do you pack for a month long trip?

Yeah...I certainly agree with what most of you are probably thinking, but I just had to take a picture of one of my suitcases (I am only taking two!) so that I could officially say that I AM DONE PACKING! I never realized how much thought and time it would take to pack for a month long trip! But thank god I am finally done! No matter how much stuff I take I'm sure that I will end up forgetting at least one thing, but at this point, I'm just thrilled to be finished getting things together. I used Space Bags to put all my stuff in before I packed it all in my suitcase and have come to the conclusion that they are one of the coolest inventions in the world. I'm sure I am the last person on the planet to discover these things but I am glad that I did! You vacuum out all the air in the bags after you put your things in them and you instantly have so much more room in your suitcase! Pretty awesome. And yes, for those of you that noticed the picture, I did pack fingernail polish and remover because you always gotta have pretty matter where you are! :)

I also bought two headsets today (one for me and one for Bradley) that have little microphones attached and are meant to be used with a computer. We both downloaded this software called SKYPE, which is a phone that works through your internet connection, and are going to use it, along with the headsets, to call each other while I am gone. SKYPE allows you to make international phone calls over your computer for free! I'm so glad that I found this software and figured out how to use it because I am going to miss him like crazy and have to have a way to at least hear his voice...and now I do!! My mom is also going to download it and buy a pair of headsets as well so that I can keep in touch with her...and stay up to date on how my Dad, Sadie, Madeline, and everyone else are doing!

So...only two more days until I leave for Nashville...and only 4 more days until I am off to Africa! soon!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Counting down....'s hard to believe that a year has gone by since I started planning my trip to Zambia. And now I am actually leaving in 8 days! I am so excited about it but kinda nervous at the same time. I often does someone get the opportunity to take a trip like this? I can't wait to step out of my comfort zone and test myself as a person. I can't wait to see things I have never seen before, experience things that the majority of the world has never experienced, and be able to care for people that truly need me. And to do this all on my own - without one single familiar face anywhere around - is going to be a huge (but incredible) challenge. Simply's going to be amazing. I fly out of Nashville, TN on January 31st. My first stop is in Detroit where I will have 45 minutes to catch the plane that takes me to Paris, France. After that 7 hour flight, I will be in Paris for 2 hours. I will then be on a 10 1/2 hour flight that will take me to Johannesburg, South Africa. I have a 13 hour layover in Johannesburg - but don't worry!!! I have booked a hotel room at the Safari Club South Africa (which is a hotel that is only 500 meters from the airport) so I can use at least 10 of those hours to get some freaking rest!!!! The next morning at 10:45, I have an hour and 45 minute flight to Livingstone!!!! I will get picked up from the Livingstone aiport and taken directly to the African Impact volunteer house where I will begin my medical project!!! Whew.....pretty packed schedule huh? Gonna be so tired but it is definitely going to be worth it.

I hope to be able to post to this blog at least every other day so I can document all the experiences that I have during my trip! I can't wait for it to start and just wanted to say thanks to everyone who helped make this trip possible. I am eternally grateful!!!