Hard to believe that we've been here a full week already! Midway through, and a routine has been established. Two more Swazi scholars (Inge and I) had the chance to go on outreach work with Choto, this time to the government hospital in Mbabane. At RFM, Ali and Martha worked in Casualty, and Aisha and Patty spent time on the Pediatric ward. Our pharmacology peers Belma, Katie, and Ken continued with their meetings working on a Pharmacology Assistant curriculum for a local school, and also spent some time rounding in Peds.
When we ate at eDeladleni Restaurant earlier this week, we were deeply impressed with not only the food, but with the chef/owner, Delores Godeffroy. Upon 'Googling' Delores' name, one may see her described as a 'food activist', and indeed she is - she speaks passionately and convincingly on the importance of utilizing crops indigenous to Southern Africa, keeping traditional recipes alive, and supporting local farming. This (Thursday) evening she accepted our invitation to dinner, and we had the opportunity to hear her express her views not only on food, but on a wide range of topics as they relate to Swaziland, including poverty, health-care, HIV/AIDS, feminism, and the less-than-positive effect of NGOs (“We need a hand up, not a hand out.”). It was a lively and invigorating discussion, and frankly I walked out of there with the distinct impression that perhaps the country would be better off if Ms. Godeffroy had a chance to run it.
On Friday we're headed off for a two-night foray into South Africa. We'll be up before dawn Saturday morning for our day-long safari at Imfolozi-Hluhluwe park; home to lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards, giraffes, buffaloes, and wild dogs! As a Boston girl who recalls multiple whale-watching field trips which resulted in little more than a sunburn, an appreciation for dramamine, and occasional blowfish sighting.... I remain cautiously optimistic.
Have a great weekend, everyone!
p.s. There's a short list of books that have come up repeatedly in discussion both in preparation for this trip, and over the course of our dinner last night with Delores. They expound on complex and controversial topics including HIV/AIDS in Africa, cultural competence among health-care workers, and the role of NGOs in international aid, among other things. I have yet read everyone of these titles myself (see: Social Isolation related to Graduate Nursing coursework, as-evidenced-by chronic fatigue, lack of interest in outside world, and pale complexion) – but they're on my short list! If interested:
Dead Aid, by Dambisa Moyo
Half the Sky, by Nicholas D. Kristof & Sheryl WuDun
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, by Anne Fadiman
Tinderbox, by Craig Timberg & Daniel Halperin