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April 24, 2012 / catherinebwrites


(Photos Martin Stone)

Car trouble
             On Thursday morning we went to the car park and got in the car.  Kieran fired the ignition; it gave one graveyard cough and died.      We found a man, a jump lead and a willing motorist… nothing.   We found better jump-leads, the manager of the hotel, a better car… nothing.    One of the hotel staff fiddled under the hood and… yieeeeeeeha… the car started.       But Kieran was nervous about it.   We were going to Linda and, if we got stuck out there, we’d be badly stuck.   The S.M.A. Fathers came up trumps and lent us another car and off we set to Linda.

            The road to Linda is paved… for about 100 metres, after that, it’s orange-red mud.   March is rainy season so the mud is rutted and potholed and churned and you have no way of knowing how deep the ruts and the potholes are because they’re filled with water.    You cannot drive on the “correct” side of the road because you have to slow to 10k per hour and suss out the high ground.   Alex sat in front suggesting routes while Kieran wrestled the steering.   Martin and I bumped about in the back. 

 We arrived at the Catholic Church in Linda.  

The mobile unit was there already and people had gathered for treatment.    At least there weren’t the huge numbers we had to deal with the previous day.    We set up the audiometers, hearing aids and mould-making equipment.   Inside the church, sound bounced about so much that if someone were more than an arm’s length away you couldn’t catch what they were saying.   Maybe when it’s full the people absorb the reverberations but, it wasn’t ideal for hearing tests. 
Ready for action.
            Then, just over the church grounds wall we heard a band blaring through loudspeakers.   It was the Marie Stopes Sexual Health Clinic.   The Marie Stopes Foundation is wealthy so it can afford to hire a band and a loudspeaker system powerful enough to let everyone in the village know where they were.   They had people in yellow t-shirts handing out leaflets and directing the locals to the clinic.   The incidence of HIV and AIDS in Zambia is very high so, on the one hand, we were pleased that the Foundation was doing something to educate and help, on the other, the noise wasn’t making our lives any easier.   And, I swear, we weren’t a bit jealous of their superior spending power!

The Marie Stopes  Fiesta
            We set up on the church seats and, once again, I was faced with the problem of how to condition the small children for a hearing test.   This time however, there was a solution.   It was International Women’s Day and there had been a celebratory Mass that morning which finished just before we arrived.    Below the altar stood an electric guitar and a drum-kit.   I liberated one of the smaller drums from its stand.   It was surprisingly heavy.   But what the heck, it did the job and I was able to test several small children successfully.    

Note drum at the back
Me, Pattison and  musical instruments

We had fewer patients than we had anticipated, probably because they were all dancing, over at the Marie Stopes shindig.   Just as we were thinking of packing up, a young woman dashed in.   Her ear was hurting.   She had decided to clean it out with a match stick but the match had broken and the red, business end was stuck deep in her ear canal.   Kieran removed it and she promised that she would never stick anything smaller than her elbow in her ear ever again.

Kieran at work
We braved the unpaved road once more and we even got back to our hotel in time to have a quick swim in the pool.    It helped unwrinkle the kinks we’d acquired bumping along on the Linda road.   And no, we did not swim with the crocodiles, they were happily basking in the decorative pool with the papyrus and the weaver birds next to the bar.   We even had time to go to the bar for a drink and watch them bask.




Chicken for dinner




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