Thursday, 1 September 2016

Day1 in Zomba

We survived the night with minimal electrical power and were grateful for candles and mini flashlights. The morning greeted us with sunshine, coolness and no electricity.

So breakfast was basic with what we had for cold fixings.Until Christopher arrived. We hired him to do our cooking and shopping while here in Zomba at the Hope guest house and it was a great decision. He was able to find a coal outdoor stove so he was able to boil eggs and more importantly water for peoples coffee.
Truthfully, we had more than we needed with yogurt, peanut butter and jam, cereal and eggs.
The plan for the day was to go to the schools and give them the computers we had purchased for them, visit the new compound that Silas's congregation had built, got to the market and prepare ourselves for the first day of clinics on Thursday. As we were loading into the van, Silas pulled up and said that there was a change of plans and turned to Bryan and I. " I have to let you know, you are working today" It seems that people starting showing up for eye assessments a day early and instead of turning them away, Silas decided to just start a day early. Bryan and I quickly changed into our Opticians shirts, grab our refractors and loaded the cases of glasses we had.
Silas had also gone to the bank for us to convert our money to the local currency. $1USD= $740 Kwacha so this is what $100 looks like
Cathy says she never feels so rich as when she has this stack of bills in front of her
Our crew headed into the small village of Chuluchosena.
The roads became more and more rustic as we left the urban area
There we saw about 50 people waiting outside the clinic and when we exited the vehicles they started singing and dancing to welcome us.
Before we started, Silas proudly showed us the new school and church that had been built for the village. The cost to attend school for the year 8500 kwacha or $12 which is beyond what most families can afford.
Back at the clinic, Bryan and I were given 2 rooms to set up in. It is probably one of the best set up's I have been given as there is good lighting, lots of air and room to move.
And so we set to work.
As people waited and continue to line up
We had a short lunch break and needed to end by 4pm so that we were back to Zomba before dark. 
Between the 2 of us, with Jessica assisting us, we completed 62 assessments in about 5 1/2 hrs. Everyone needed glasses and sadly, as usual, there were several that we were unable to help.
Most of those were due to advanced cataracts. I was surprised that there wasn't a lot of pterygium(a benign growth caused by UV exposure) as I had seen this in a high percentage in the Dominican. But was interesting was the number of bi-coloured irises. A lot of people have circular multicoloured eyes with either a blue ring in the center with brown on the outside or visa versa. I'm going to try and get a photo of this tomorrow and maybe get some explanation.
When 4pm came around, we had completed 62 assessments however, there were still about 40 people waiting. It was sad that they had to be told to come back the next day as they had travelled and waited a long time. But we will make them our first priority the next day.
We drove back tired and hot but thankful that we were greeted by the amazing smell of dinner that Christopher was preparing for us.
It was a feast of chicken, rice, vegetables, tomato sauce, cavasas(potato type roots) and coleslaw with fresh fruit for dessert.
Silas had also been able to purchase a data sim for my iPhone so we have internet access.
Internet connections, more food than we could eat and electricity. We are living a life of luxury tonight! 
It is completely dark by 6pm. 
We are using this time to get all the equipment charged for the busy day tomorrow and preparing for the first full day of an eye clinic back in Chuluchosema.
I am tired but feeling OK. I'm really proud at how quickly we were able to pull things together and be ready to do a clinic without much notice. However, sadly, 2 of the 3 bags that the airline has lost are filled with glasses so Bryan and I are both feeling a little short on selection at times and frustrated because we KNOW that we have more....we just don't have them available. But that is part of the challenge of this type of work. You do the best you have with what you got.
Tomorrow will be better even if just because we are more confident and comfortable with the task at hand.
We got this.

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