Sunday, March 16, 2014

more time at Mbingo

I am writing this after a full 2 weeks in Cameroon. The main reason for my coming has been teaching and I have been enjoying my time in the classroom I have discovered the difference between an occasional lecture and actually teaching a classroom of students. It makes sense to invest in my students; what I teach them today I will build on tomorrow. I have enjoyed getting beyond the practical application and getting to the why and physiology behind what I do every day. Last week the students had a quiz, I have not seen the results yet- the real teacher is marking them, but I am afraid I have discovered that a quiz evaluates the quality and clarity of my teaching more so than it evaluates my students' ability to study. The concepts I taught were not in the book they had, they may not have had access to the internet to look something up if they did not understand the lecture notes they took and the handout I gave them was all they had.
All that being said I am really enjoying teaching. It is fun to get to know my students like most classrooms there are a mix: a few jokers, the one who asks tough questions and the quiet ones who make you wonder how much is sticking. Class is only 2 hours a day and then the students are released for the practical part of the training. Half the group is put to work in the surgical ward and can be busy with various tasks. The other 6 are sent to work in recovery room. There is a little more time here and I have been using it to help the students practice various skills or explain different things as the recovery room has easy access to the OR and I have more time than I do at Tenwek. I have also been able to see parts of a few surgeries, which has been fun.

My "Lungs" used for a demonstration, I thought it was quite ingenious. 
In my time away from hospital I am catching up with my friend A. who is a surgical resident in the USA. We met in 2011 when I was at Tenwek and she came for 2 months as a medical student. We became great friends then and have stayed in touch over the years. When I was asked to come to Cameroon, March was good timing on my schedule and when I heard A. was also planning to come to Mbingo in March the timing just could not be better. A. being a surgical resident is putting in long hours but when we are both off we have enjoyed taking hikes in the beautiful hills surrounding Mbingo. Yesterday the small sprinkling of rain turned into a downpour and we got soaked. I am not sure what the Cameroonians thought of 2 white ladies running in the rain, they were all under shelter waiting it out. But we enjoyed it anyway. This afternoon we took another hike we were not quite sure of the way but some friendly children pointed out the path to us, once we were a little way up they decided to guide us all the way up. It was a beautiful hike and thankfully we stayed dry.  

Mbingo hospital
A. and 2 of our guides on the top enjoying the view. Notice the boy sitting on the tire, he carried it all the way up with him.

Our guides getting even higher and climbing the tree

We went all the way to the top of this beautiful hill

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Seeing More of Africa

 A few weeks ago if you had asked me how much of Africa I had traveled to the answer would be 2 countries (Kenya and Uganda). Since then that number has doubled as I have been able to spend some time in Tanzania and Cameroon.
Tanzania was a holiday. In my last post I talked about the visitors I had, they invited me to accompany them to Zanzibar, an Island of Tanzania for a holiday. This was a welcome vacation and I enjoyed the history of stone town, snorkeling, for the first but definitely not the last time, swimming, and getting some sun. This was also a great time to catch up with mom and dad and the other visitors without the stresses of everyday life or a pager calling me away. The trip ended with a little stress because as the plane landed in Nairobi a fellow had a seizure, I helped him out and then gathered my stuff and got off the plane. I knew good-byes would be at the airport but we did not realize they would be right on the tarmac. I had to board a bus to head to the baggage area and mom and dad went the other way to catch their flight back to Canada. We hugged and shed some tears on the tarmac and I unfortunately missed a few good-byes as some of my visitors has already headed into the terminal. I guess this prevented a long drawn out good-bye but it was tough. However I am so fortunate to have friends and family who enjoy travel and came all the way to see me.

relaxing at the coast

Cameroon is a trip for work, I am writing this now between writing a protocol for sputum induction and preparing a lecture on V/Q mismatch. I have been here for 1 week, out of a total of 3, working at a hospital called Mbingo. Mbingo is a mission hospital that is growing. They are in the process of opening an ICU and asked if I was willing to come out to help with some education. I have enjoyed the time here and getting to know the culture in this part of Africa. I have been teaching my students Swahili as I keep accidently speaking it so I have decided to teach them a word a day here's what we got so far:
Sawa – ok
Asante – thank you
Karibu – (you're) welcome
Habari za Asubuhi – good morning

Here in Cameroon they speak French or pidgin english so that is awesome. I have no clue what is being said. It is interesting to see the similarities and differences in the cultures of east and west Africa. I have had a chance to eat fou fou and jema jema (not sure about spelling) which is their version of ugali and sukuma wiki which in English is corn mush and greens. These are the staple foods in both places and are similar. There are parts of the culture that are different in Kenya, I have learned,  when visiting someone it is impolite to leave without them releasing you first; here in Cameroon it is like Canada where if you are leaving you say thank-you and go. I am looking forward to getting to know the people here better.