ART clinic in Mwembezhi

From Ashley, a Wisconsin Lutheran College nursing student:

On Thursday, our group traveled to Mwembezhi. I went to the ART (antiretroviral therapy) clinic for HIV patients with Alissa and Alex. I was shocked at how differently things were done compared not only to America, but also to the other ART clinics I’ve been to here in Zambia.

The room was a square with cement benches lining the walls. All the patients came to sit on the benches while the clinical officer sat on the bench closest to the door. The patients would wait quietly until it was their turn, but they could see and hear everything the clinical officer was saying to the other patients – no HIPPA privacy!

After doing a very brief assessment, the clinical officer wrote out prescriptions for medications. He let Alissa, Alex, and me write out a few and then he would sign them. Overall it was a very interesting and eye-opening experience.

Later that night at our lodgings back at Kamamba, Kayla, Alex, and I ventured out to the chimbuzi, or “bathroom,” literally a hole in the ground inside a small concrete building. Alex and I were very cautious, so Kayla volunteered to go first. After walking into the first chimbuzi “stall,” we heard Kayla scream and then she ran out. There was a massive spider in the chimbuzi! Then she went into all the other sections and found many more spiders. After deciding against going to the bathroom in the bushes, she finally got the courage to enter the least intimidating chimbuzi. While she was I there, Alex and I sang songs to her for comfort.

After a lot of convincing, I went into the chimbuzi, with more songs of comfort to ease my fears. That was definitely my most terrifying experience here in Zambia, but I’m glad I have such great friends to sing me songs throughout the experience.