You may be wondering...
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 life...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
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
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
Saturday, March 14, 2009
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, if you would rather it be an anonymous donation, then you can send a check to: 812 Prestwood Drive, Hartsville, SC 29550.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Monday, March 9, 2009
Saturday, March 7, 2009
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 soon......it 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 email@example.com 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
Monday, March 2, 2009
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
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
Monday, February 16, 2009
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
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
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.
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
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Thursday, February 5, 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…..
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
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
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 toenails...no 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! Wow...so soon!