John Deason_pharmacy in zambia

This is my first blog posting on my trip in Zambia.  I’ve been in one week so far but it has seemed much more.  Things operate so differently from how they do in the states, especially if you have never left the country!  My first taste of Zambia was really on Sunday since much of my first day here was just spent traveling.  We traveled to a small village called Kasibi where we attended church.  It was one of the most humbling services I have ever attended.  The church was no larger than the den at my parents’ house (and we don’t have a huge house).  On the walls were either tacked or duct taped posters depicting Jesus or various biblical events.  Most looked like they were thirty-plus years old and were very weather worn.  The roof was tin and full of holes.  I doubt very seriously that it kept the congregation dry during the wet season.  The benches were small and old with no backings and were only long enough to truly fit four grown men tightly. 

Despite the meager appearance of this place, the verse “that where three or more have gathered there [God] shall be” never rang truer.  I cannot describe the absolute joy I felt the entire time I was there, from the time I was greeted in Tongan (their local language) song, to our dismissal by circling the church and having all members in attendance shake each others hand in Zambian style (which is much easier to show rather than describe).  What delighted me most was that we somehow fit 100 or so individuals in this place!  There was no room to even breathe!  I could only think how wonderful it was that so many craved the word of God. 

Afterwards we traveled back to the village where they had prepared a traditional meal (rice, chicken, and cabbage) and had their village band play us some beautiful music on their makeshift instruments.  All of the local children gathered around the band and danced in a circle.  It’s amazing how even the children of this country have more rhythm than those that get paid to teach it in our country…

My first taste of the clinic came on Tuesday.  All I can say is I’m not in the States anymore.  I was taken back how much they can do with absolutely nothing!  The people having a prescription for Amoxil (a very common antibiotic) had to be dispensed Chloramphenachol instead!!! For those that don’t know, in the U.S. this has been reserved as a last line drug for serious infections where there is nothing else you can give due to it being so difficult to tolerate.  In essence, we have such a richer health system we can afford drugs with much better side affects while the people in Zambia have to take whatever they can get just for a sinus infection.  It was heartbreaking…

I wish I could say the pharmacy was the only department in need, but it didn’t stop there.  The triage station (that they called the OPD, or Out Patient Department) took the vital signs of each patient wanting to see the clinical officer (Zambia’s version of a PA).  The ear-thermometers they used to get the temperature didn’t operate that well in the cold and had to be kept in the nurse’s pocket to keep it warm enough to work.  In addition, they were out of disposable covers so the tips were caked with earwax because they didn’t have enough alcohol pads to clean them in between patients.  They had only one size needle for all injections (23 gauge) which could be a little painful even to the tough patients. 

God has certainly led me to a country of his people great in need.  I can only pray that I can be his humble servant and give back the blessing that God has bestowed me to his children he so dearly loves.