The other morning work was very quiet, so I decided to take it as an opportunity to snap a few photos to show a little more about my health center where I work. This is just a taste; I plan to talk more about my work in future posts, updating you on all of my projects and ideas for during my service.
This photo shows what I see when I approach the health center each morning. The staff members are at the water forage, which happens to house a hive of (stingerless) bees. Children who live nearby often treat this area as a playground, as do the chickens and dog, Zombie, who live at the health center. The far wall is patient rooms.
Here is another view of the water forage. The building behind it has four rooms for center staff to stay in, and also houses the latrines for patients and staff. To the right (far off in the back) there is a pit where we dispose trash after burning it. With no incinerator or waste management system, this is the best option. To the left (not in view) is another building with a kitchen for patients’ families, one for staff, and a chicken storage room. The chickens are let out during the day and roam the health center, or sometimes even hide in the trees.
Here is one of the patient rooms. Most of the rooms have three or four beds, but there are a few rooms that are private. Patients are in charge of bringing their own bedding, dishes for cooking, supplies for cleaning dishes and bathing, and any other items they may need while sick. As you can see by these two beds, the quality of the mattresses is far from ideal. The director of the health center is hoping to replace each of the mattresses this year. I think we have twenty bedframes, but not all of them even have mattresses. Some times patients or their families sleep on the floor on mats brought from home.
Our health center does not have electricity, so lab work and other tasks are much easier to accomplish when there is natural lighting. This is a photo of the lab tech’s work area. We are equipped to do basic blood and urine tests. We most often test for Tuberculosis, Typhoid, Malaria, HIV, syphilis, Hepatitis, pregnancy tests, getting blood types for transfusions, and anemia. As our center is small, we refer a lot of people out to the larger hospital in a town nearby for more serious tests and treatment.
Here is the main meeting room where I conduct a lot of my work. On Tuesdays mothers come in with their babies for vaccinations, and on Thursdays we do malnutrition screenings and distribute a therapeutic food product that is supposed to help get the youngsters into a healthier weight range. I will be writing about these projects in more detail soon, I promise. This photo is from a meeting I held with the director of the health center to introduce myself to the community council that supports the health center, as well as one of the community groups that I work with, who are referred to as “Les Hommes Dynamiques.” The previous volunteers worked with this group, training them on important health topics and tasking them with speaking to people in the community about the importance of prenatal consultations, the advantages of family planning, and the importance of vaccinations.
Here is another photo of a group of the people present during my first community meeting. The woman on the left is Astadicko, my counterpart. I was laughing because they all insisted on smiling for the photo, “like Americans,” because the previous volunteer always insisted.