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”.

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.