A Travellerspoint blog

Julius and Simba

My interesting day at work and the imminent excitement of this weekend!


So, today started as any other normal day... I sat awkwardly in the medical ward office while the doctor and nurses chattered away in Swahili around me, just waiting to be needed.

  • * Warning: Quasi-graphic scene described ahead!!! **

Another nurse popped her head in to get some hot water for the maternity ward, and informed me that there was a woman who had been in labor since 8 AM the previous day, and might give birth at any moment. The poor thing was dilated to 7 cms for over thirty hours... I ended up standing there for a few hours, just holding her hand and helping her breathe through the contractions. I was told that labor usually lasts 18 hours or less, and because this one was taking so long they were going to take her for a C section. As soon as they got her to sign the consent forms, this other Masaai woman is rushed in at 8 cms already, and the first woman was kind of put on the back burner :( I was watching this woman struggle and push when all of a sudden the first woman started to push, and next thing we knew the baby was crowning! Yay! That is a good thing, because a natural birth is preferred to a C section; the woman heals faster and is able to go home earlier. Anyway, I watched my first natural birth, and she had a beautiful baby boy named Julius. I'll save you the gory details, but I'll just say that I was so excited, and I had to stop myself from crying when it was over... So beautiful. And the mother was so grateful... she was my age, twenty years old, and she had no one there to help her through this... I guess that is just part of the culture. Anyway, I was standing near the Masaai woman on the other side of the room, just to stay out of the way. She was in a lot of pain, and one nurse decided to get her to stand up to help the labor along - you know, let gravity do its thing. All of a sudden, she starts to give birth! As she is standing! When we all realized what was happening, she stopped trying to stand up - her legs literally gave out and we had to lay her on the floor... it was still just me and the other nurse, and the baby was crowning, and I was holding his head! I barely had a clue as to what I was doing, and I was just vocalizing everything I did with the hopes that someone would stop me if I was doing something wrong... So I had the baby's head in one hand and I was lying the woman on the floor with the other hand, and she was pushing and the whole head was out, and by that time the other nurse had the head and was pulling by the neck so I reached in to find the shoulder because that was the one thing I learned from my BLS training... one shoulder at a time. Then the rest of the medical team was there and they finished the job, but I helped!!!! It was amazing! Unfortunately, the baby was not crying, which is a really bad sign. They were smacking the baby to get him to cry but it wasn't working, so they took him to the table with the other baby to work on him... meanwhile one nurse was still at the floor with the Masaai woman, and I somehow had the sense of mind to grab a tray for the placenta. We eventually got her back up onto the table and the nurse cleaned her up. I got to hold the first baby, Julius, while they were working on the other one. Both babies were perfect - both boys - and I congratulated both of the mothers (Hongera! in Swahili). At this point it was around 5 PM, and they had wheeled in two other ladies that were in labor but I was just so exhausted I had to go home... this was tricky because I had never gone home by myself before, but I made it home safe and sound. And now I'm going to bed before I am eaten alive by mosquitoes! I think I've killed 6 in the time it took to write this; not to mention the ones that got away! Oi.

Other great news! I am leaving for Safari tomorrow morning, thus the Simba reference in the title! If you are unable to reach me, its probably because I'm camping in the Serengeti :D I'll be back Monday, and I'll be sure to blog about all the giraffes I see!

Love you all,

- Nicole

Posted by NerdAbroad 23:46 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

Jina lako nani?

What is your name?


Today's title reflects the new phrase I learned today! I'm only here for four more weeks, and I am determined to be able to have a competent conversation in Swahili by the time I leave... I really have no respect for tourists who enter a country with no inclination or desire to learn the native language... I mean, the people have graciously let you into their lives; the least you can do is make an attempt to communicate with them... actually, no... I learned from SAS that the LEAST you could do would be to be angry or even disrespectful to someone because they didn't speak English. The arrogance of those people is astounding.

Ugh... I'm in kind of a crappy mood today because one of my favorite patients is being discharged because he cannot afford to stay... he is there because he was stung/bitten by something and his right calf is almost completely eaten up by cellulitus; you can see the individual muscles and nerves its so bad. He's been here for a couple of weeks, and with intense care and cleaning its actually starting to look better... and now he has to go back home, which, because he is a Massai, might be somewhere in the middle of the Serengeti. Clinton, my partner, is optimistic that he won't loose the leg to infection, but I'm not convinced, and I can't tell if he is just lying to make me feel better. I love this kid so much, partly because I spent several hours one day scraping away the dead tissue and the guy didn't flinch once (part of the Massai culture...) Plus I taught him how to give a thumbs up, and now every time I come to the surgical ward he gives me a thumb's up!

Anyway, its unfortunate that this happened today, because its the first sunny day we've had since I arrived... the rain was making me miss my sunny Southern California so much! I saw the sky today, and I was surprised by how much joy that little bit of blue gave me.

I'm taking advantage of the sun to do my laundry... this is the first time I've ever hand-washed my laundry, so we will see how it goes. I could have paid one of our house mamas to do it, but I already bought the soap, plus I kind of wanted to learn for myself. The water is still coming out of the spicket a little brown, but I refuse to waste the sun! Plus, my shower water was brown last night anyway, so I'm thinking that is just the way it is... Hakuna matata (yes, that is a real thing... it actually means 'no worries' in Swahili, and people actually use it)!

More Lion King references: "simba" means 'lion', and 'rafiki' means 'friend'... and you know how in the middle of the movie Rafiki smacks Simba on the head? Well, after he says something like "Asante sana squashed banana..." well, 'asante sana' means 'thank you very much'; ever since I learned that I've been going around the house giggling and singing 'asante sana, squashed banana!'

The nurses at the hospital laugh every time I tell them about the new word I learned, and they get a kick out of teaching me new words as well... I can say that, at least, about volunteering: if I'm not providing any actual help, I can at least make them laugh!

I can tell that the rest of my time here is going to be amazing... I just gotta keep my chin up, and keep working at Swahili :)

Love you all!

- Nicole


So, I just finished hanging up my laundry... its finally done. It may not be exactly clean, but at least it smells better :D Not bad for a first attempt, I think... especially given I had no clean, let alone hot, water. I'm actually pretty proud of myself!

Posted by NerdAbroad 17:32 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)


My arrival and first days in Tanzania!


Hello all!

I'm still mourning the end of my Semester at Sea voyage, but I have moved on to my next adventure: Tanzania!

My flights all went fairly well; I departed from Barcelona, Spain at around 1530 and arrived in Doha, Qatar at around 2300 local time. My next flight from Qatar to Dar es Salam, Tanzania (and then an hour flight to Kilimanjaro, Tanzania) did not leave until the following morning at 0725, and I was fully anticipating sleeping in the airport... Even if I could somehow summon the energy to look for and travel [safely] to a hotel, I had no interest in waiting in line and purchasing a visa to stay in the country for - at most - six hours. However, I had a 'yellow ticket' and was flagged down by an airport employee who informed me that Qatar Airlines had reserved a room for me at a local hotel. Warily, I followed him and joined a large group of tourists, who looked just as confused as I was... this poor Vietnamese couple didn't speak a lick of English and had not yet mastered charades (a requisite for traveling), so I had no idea how to answer whatever question they were asking. Anyway, we were loaded onto a bus to immigration, where I waited in line for over an hour to get a visa... all this sounds terrible, but I was looking forward to a free meal and shower. Besides, now I have a Qatar stamp in my passport, and can actually say I've been to the Middle East :D We arrived in the hotel at around 0200, and I had to be up in three hours to catch the bus back to the airport, so I figured it would be just a tease to fall asleep. I showered, ate the most gourmet and delicious veggie sandwich ever, and did some internet stuff... I got to Skype my mom and Nick, which is always nice. At 0400 I got my wake-up call, and went for my buffet breakfast (Delicious!) then waited for the bus to the airport. I got to the airport with no troubles, bought post cards for Dad, and Skyped again until my flight at 0725. I tried to sleep on the plane, but was unsuccessful. We got to Dar es Salaam at around 1500, and waited for less than an hour for most of the passengers to deplane before taking off again for an hour flight to Kilimanjaro Airport. It was a really small airport, and the security was almost nonexistant.

... I just noticed that I posted an incomplete version of this post. I will finish it later, I promise :) I need to go to bed now... I'll finish the story at a later date. Subscribe so you can get an email when I upload a new post! With pictures, eventually!

- Nicole

Posted by NerdAbroad 19:04 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

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