Clinic tour

We have had two interesting days in Zambia as we saw very nice living conditions yesterday in a home in Lusaka and the exact opposite today in the bush outside of the city. We celebrated African Freedom Day yesterday with an enjoyable afternoon at the home of Judith, the head nurse at Beit Cure International Hospital where the students spent part of their clinical time. Judith and her family have a very nice home and they welcomed us with open arms (literally!). She also invited other staff from the hospital, which made the afternoon extra special.

WLC students at the Mwembezhi Clinic

Today we traveled to Mwembezhi to see the first Lutheran church (Martin Luther) established in Zambia in the 1950s, as well as the rural health clinic where Professor Carey spent three years serving as a nurse. According to Professor Carey, the road conditions have improved greatly from what they were, but the last several miles of the trip were on a very bumpy, dusty road.

The rural clinic is very busy, serving more than 2,000 people every month. They offer care for pregnant women, infants and children, and medicines for HIV patients, among other healthcare services. Professor Carey enjoyed seeing so many familiar faces from her time at the clinic.

After a tour of the clinic by Jackson Kalekwa, clinical officer, we took a short walk down the road to see the homes where Professor Carey and the missionaries lived. Now the clinic is completely run by local Zambians and the homes are rented to local people as well. We then walked in the opposite direction to the home of Grey and Catherine Bili who prepared an authentic African lunch for us. The home was small, but Catherine creatively arranged the room and table so that our large group fit inside comfortably for the meal. The hospitality was unbeatable!

We will be wrapping up our trip this weekend with a blood pressure screening on the seminary grounds tomorrow morning and then taking a driving tour of Lusaka.

A trip to a local market is scheduled for Saturday morning and in the afternoon we will be attending the graduation of the ten seminary students.

On Sunday morning we will travel to one of Pastor Wendland’s bush churches for the service before returning to Lusaka in the afternoon and packing our bags for an early departure for the airport on Monday morning. After a layover in London on Monday night, we will be back in the United States on Tuesday afternoon.

I hope all of the readers have enjoyed keeping up with our trip as much as I have enjoyed sharing the stories through this blog. The students will definitely have many things to share, countless pictures to show, and souvenirs that will remain as keepsakes. However, their best remembrances of the trip will be the memories they will always keep with them of their time in the special country of Zambia.

Thank you for your support and prayers. God’s blessings to you from Lusaka, Zambia.

Safari in Zambia

We returned to Lusaka late yesterday afternoon after spending a very enjoyable weekend in Livingstone. Friday’s trip down there was supposed to take six hours by bus, but three breakdowns lengthened the trip to 12 hours. We arrived safely though, at 9:00 p.m., having quite a story to share about our experience. This included finding bathroom facilities in the “bush,” meeting many nice Zambians along the way, listening to several hours of Christian music (chosen by our bus driver), watching six Zambians change a bus tire, and driving the last hour through a rainstorm – even though it is supposedly the dry season here and it never rains during the dry season.

On Saturday morning we were up before the sun for our game drive (AKA safari). We were greeted at the entrance of the park by impala (deer) and the cameras came out in full force. Little did we know that there are impala everywhere! We eventually saw warthogs, baboons, monkeys, birds, lizards, a hippo, and elephants. We also got a special treat – the chance to get out of our vehicles and walk up to an area to view rhinos. An amazing experience!

WLC nursing students at the Zambezi River

In the afternoon we headed to Victoria Falls. Our pictures and video and stories will never be able to capture the full essence of the experience. The water is exceptionally high right now, so the force of the water was absolutely amazing. The spray of water is so strong that when people stand along the observation areas they get completely soaked. Ponchos are available for rent, but the students went without and enjoyed the downpour.

We also got the opportunity to do some shopping from vendors at the Falls and in Livingstone. It was an interesting experience trying to negotiate prices and convert kwacha to dollars in our heads. Coasters, small carved animals, bowls, and jewelry were the most popular items for purchase.

Today we were back to clinicals – one group at the children’s hospital, the other at a hospital for those with mental illness. The students are learning about nursing care from a very different perspective than what they see in the United States. What is not so different though, is that regardless of the disease or condition or what part of the world where they are, the patients need help that nurses can provide.

Experiencing Zambia

Today marked the end of our clinical experiences for the week, which meant saying goodbye to all of our new Zambian friends. In just three days, we shared and learned a great deal from each other. We gave small gifts to staff and to some of the patients that we met. They were thrilled with these remembrances of the Wisconsin Lutheran College nursing students.

One of the students was determined to make a basketball hoop for a young boy confined to a wheelchair, so he hunted the grounds for branches to twist together. After finding nothing that was going to work, he found a bucket that no one was using and colored it with a marker. At first, the boy was a bit hesitant to try shooting the ball into the bucket, but his face lit up when he caught on.

Earlier in the week, we saw a modern shopping area in Lusaka that surprised all of us; this was not what we expected to see in Africa. We learned that it is a new addition to the city and that the relatively few people who can afford it, do enjoy it, but we also discovered that it does not represent the majority of the people and areas of Lusaka. We have driven through sections of the city called compounds where the living conditions are very sad and very, very poor. It is impossible for any of us to imagine what it must be like to live there.

The food has been a new experience too! We have been eating nshima, sugar cane, rape (don’t panic – it’s a green leafy vegetable), ground nuts, avocados the size of some of the students’ head, soup that is poured over potatoes, rice, and noodles, and an interesting tasting type of ketchup. The students are cooking breakfast for themselves each morning – they will have stories to share. One student has been banned from the kitchen because they all went hungry that day (won’t mention any names).

We made a stop at the chemist this afternoon – Africa’s version of a pharmacist. Some medications can be purchased there without prescriptions, unlike in the United States, and often at a relatively low cost. We made a few purchases – heartburn medicine and laxatives. The packaging didn’t look familiar, but the list of ingredients sounded harmless :). Everyone was doing well at our evening meal, so the medications must have been a success!

We are scheduled for an early start tomorrow morning – going by bus to Livingstone, which is where Victoria Falls is located. The students have been told to keep food packages closed since any open food attracts monkeys. Hopefully no one gets any ideas to “accidentally” leave food open – doing so may mean sharing their room with a monkey.

Because of our trip, there will be no blog posts until Sunday when we return (depending on internet access). Hello to everyone back home!

Clinicals in Zambia


The Wisconsin Lutheran College students had an intense day of clinicals today in Zambia, seeing and hearing things that they will most likely never experience in the United States. Students at the orthopedic hospital observed surgery, and those at the hospice saw the ravaging effects of HIV.

Every day the students are asked to share their high points and low points for the day. The high points are many and center around the learning experiences they have been having. Most of the low points are not related to personal disappointments; rather, the students share sad things that they have witnessed. Children who are orphaned because of a deformity or because their parents have died from HIV, caregivers’ struggles from a lack of supplies, and patients refusing certain tests or recommendations because they cannot afford them; all of these things are a constant reality for the people here.

On a lighter note, Team USA (WLC nursing students) took on Team Zambia in an exciting game of kickball on the seminary grounds this afternoon. Team USA prevailed, winning by a score of 17-16, but it was a fierce competition down to the very last out. The red uniforms worn by Team Zambia were a gift from St. John’s in Lannon, Wisconsin. According to Coach Dave, the students were dressed in them since noon today. They definitely wear them with pride!

Tonight after devotion the students were asked to share a brief part of one of their journal entries. One of the students ended her entry for the first night in Zambia with the words, “Thank the Lord for this opportunity.” A few words that say so much about our time here. This experience is certainly a blessing from God; we are so thankful for all that He provides!

Full moon over Zambia

As our day draws to a close under a full moon in Zambia, we enjoy the quiet peacefulness that the night brings. God has blessed us with a full day of learning today!

We started our day bright and early at our first two clinical sites – half the group going to Our Lady’s Hospice and the other half at Beit Cure, a surgical hospital.

The hospice provides care and services to HIV and cancer patients, but with very limited resources. The students learned a great deal today about the medications used for HIV patients and the different symptoms that occur with different stages of HIV infection.

At the hospital, the students worked with the pediatric population in orthopedics, ENT, and neurology. They observed the Zambian parents comforting their children and were reminded of the fear and uncertainty that a healthcare environment can sometimes create for patients, both young and old. Both groups noted the importance of providing patients with clear information and education.

This evening after devotion, some of the students walked around the seminary grounds, greeting the seminary children and watching a group of young Zambian men playing a game of soccer (football here). Anne, a missionary wife, served a wonderful meal of rice, chicken, and a salad for us; we are feeling very spoiled. Nothing but clean plates and full stomachs when we were through.

Greetings from Zambia

WLC nursing students in Zambia

Greetings from Lusaka, Zambia! After two long days of travel and minimal sleep on the airplane, our group of thirteen from Wisconsin Lutheran College arrived safely in Lusaka.

Our first day here (Monday, 5/16) has been relaxed and somewhat quiet. A chance to shower and take a quick nap did wonders for all. We also exchanged dollars for kwacha and went grocery shopping. The store is quite modern, filled with recognizable items (even though labels look different). Professor Scott panicked a bit when the total rang up to 700,000 kwacha, but was reassured when the conversion was made to U.S. dollars (about $150).

The missionary staff here at the seminary of the Lutheran Mission-Zambia has been so welcoming to us – breakfast when we arrived, lunch outside in the warm sunshine, and a braai (cookout) planned for tonight.

Sister Rebekah has been warmly greeted by her many colleagues, including Mr. Zulu, Mr. Banda, Pastor Kawaliza, Dave and Dee Mathiak, Dan and Lisa Sargent, Dean and Mrs. Phiri, and Ernie and Margie Wendland. All of these individuals have also been introduced to the newest nurse colleague, Sister Sheryl, and to the students. Lots of sights, sounds, and smells to take in and lots to learn!

Tomorrow is the start of clinicals for the students at two different medical facilities in Lusaka. We are not sure what to expect, but everyone is excited to learn about healthcare in Zambia and to meet patients and healthcare providers.

Student Nursing Association’s Year

Please enjoy this guest post from Kristen, secretary of the Student Nursing Association at Wisconsin Lutheran College.

Finals are over!!! Another academic year is wrapping up for the WLC Student Nursing Association (SNA). As we look to the future year with the new board of officers, we reflect on the last year and all that has been experienced.

This year was very successful with tons of participants showing up to both the Alzheimer’s and MS walks. SNA members worked on their cooking skills while making dinner twice for Kathy’s House ? the themes were breakfast for dinner and baked potato bar. There was even a meeting where people from Bell Ambulance came to talk and show the ambulance’s equipment. This opened up amazing opportunities for some SNA members to shadow them later on in the year!

This year turned out to be a success with having members eager to volunteer. SNA has been blessed to have strong leaders over the past few years, and this trend will continue with the officers for the academic year of 2011-2012.

God Bless everyone in their summer endeavors.