Prior to setting off in the mornings we normally all came together for followups and then break off into our various groups to discuss the day before and what could be done.
I felt that the Hygiene was best for the younger members of our team as they could run and play with the kids so I requested if I could be put elsewhere. Tanya put me on as a crowd control person with the Medical team. Crowd control is needed because we are only at a village for one day and at 2pm triage would be closed (ie no more people could come through) so that we could concentrate on those already in line waiting to see the Dr, nurse etc. Therefore there was crowd control with the Triage line to make sure no one pushed in. From there they were put in line to be moved about the various medical stations. Jess and I both looked after this line. Actually I looked after the inside area which was Nurses, Drs and Worming stations and Jess looked after the main line which was outside and took people to Chiro (also outside). She was really good. In fact at one stage she organised the worming guys to just go along the line rather than wait for them to come in. Everyone pretty much needed worming.
Ok so I have jumped ahead of myself really. The place we went to this day was on an island. There was a ferry that took us over.
Our view while waiting for the ferry.
The ferry about to dock (yes it is more crowded than it looks).
We ended up at the back of the ferry upstairs. The stairs were pretty much a ladder if you ask me and they were right next to the stinky (very stinky) diesel engine.
An old lady riding her bike on the very dusty, quiet main street.
Not all our vans made it with us on this Ferry so we had to wait for the rest to arrive. Being the Cambodian winter, it is very dry. There is dust everywhere. In fact if it wasn't for the shadows I would swear that the trees were part of the road. They were covered so much in dust that there was no greenery showing. Unfortunately I couldn't get a photo because the best spots I saw was when I was in the van.
Once again we set up in a church/school. It didn't take long for the toilet to back up due to us civilised people trying to flush the toilet paper. There was a bag outside of the toilet but it was overflowing as it was. I was determined not to go. Thankfully it was very hot inside the church so I sweated it out.
It was lovely when they put this fan on. You can see how red my face is and how shiny with sweat it is. The sweat was just pouring off us all.
This is inside the church. Nurses to the left and Drs to the right. It was very crowded down there and quite dangerous when the Nurses were trying to give Vitamin B injections. Worming was to the left near the nurses but they are out of this picture.
The Doctors. We were lucky to have 5 while in Phnom Penh.
This is Sopheavy translating for Maureen. Maureen helped out with triage (basically finding out what was wrong with them and where they needed to go.
Brand new baby
This little boy was there with his mother and younger brother. He got wormed first and screamed the rest of the time his mother was waiting for other things. He ran away, and the worming girls ran after him and grabbed him back. He didn't like those girls. :( He tried to run a few times after that and the girls stopped him again. The only way he would calm down and let his mum finish up with us (she had to see other stations) was if I took his photograph and showed him.
This is his little brother sitting on his mums lap as she talks with the Dr. When I showed him his photo, he screwed up his face and leaned in close. It was like he didn't believe what he saw.
Much needed lunch. It was cooked by the Pastors wife and it was oh so Delicious. It was a very mild curry (yes I could eat it) with coconut and butter and pumpkin and other yummy things. There was also coke. Something we all appreciated considering it was cold, fizzy and refreshing and not warm water. Of course there is always one in the group (me this time). I sat on a step to eat, my coke on the step below me but between my legs. It gets knocked over and the resulting puddle that remained on the concrete did not look good.
This is mum with two of the translators. Chhorvy (pronounced Ciaovy) is on the left. She helped the nurses the day before as well. By the end of this day mum had "adopted" her so she is my Cambodian little sister. She is very cheeky. All three of them were sitting eating their lunch and mum looks around for her drink and couldn't find it. Chhorvy looked all innocent but her friend soon handed it over and dobbed her in. From then on it became a game to see who could trick who. More on that later.
By the time the pineapple came out we had all pretty much headed back to our stations to continue with the clinic. Lucky Louisa had the bowl to herself.
Those of you who know me well know that I don't have kids. I would like to introduce you to my daughter (below in the pink T-shirt). Confused you yet? LOL you will have to wait until my blog gets to Siem Riep to find out that story.
Dennytza was helping out with the hygiene group but they had finished for the day. While the others played games with the kids to keep them occupied, she volunteered to help with the dishes.
Back inside the church there were too men waiting for stations to be free. It did not matter where I walked, they watched me like 2 hawks. Yep it was the big, white, beautiful thing again. Problem was that these guys were being blatantly obvious and it became unnerving. I went down to the Nurse's station to hide there but it was too crowded so I told Jess I was going outside for a little bit and went to watch the games.
The old two line race of over and under. There were about three lines though and only one ball so a compromise was made ... blow up a surgical glove.
These girls seemed a little embarrassed to go under.
This boy preferred to watch and suck on his lollipop
This little boy was happy just to play in a muddy puddle with an empty bottle.
Back inside the men were now otherwise occupied and it was babies galore. I think this one was 2 weeks old. By the way. Many of the younger kids did not have pants on. It did not go too well when one of them had diorreah and a trail was left on the floor (yeah lets not go there). Another one peed as well. Both boys I would like to point out. LOL
Of course cute little babies get handed around. Mum didn't have to hold on for too long as there were plenty of willing nannies.
This old lady was determined to push in line for the chiro. They were seated in the order they arrived. They could only bypass if it was an emergency. Chiro line was always long and I think she had been waiting since before we went to lunch. She knew from previous clinics that we started to back up at 3pm and left at 4pm (even if there were people still waiting). She was determined not to miss out. She kept coming over to Jess and I and, I think, complaining. There was nothing we could do though. In times like these I was glad we didn't have a translator. After a few tries she eventually settled down and I believe that everyone got seen to.
Now for some brave boys. This little cutie here had a large gash in his ankle. Mum cleaned it and dressed it. He was the lucky one.
The brave boy in the images below was looked after by one of the other nurses. I will call her E. I think it was his ankle as well but it had a huge abscess that needed lancing. E took him over to the Drs and she worked with them to help him out. It was very painful and without a local anaesthetic I am sure it was worse than this photo makes out. I was quite a distance away so it was only my zoom that allowed me to get anything. It was too crowded to go up there and I didn't want to be a pest and get in the way.
He was there for quite a while. It was decided that he needed to go to the hospital in Phnom Penh (ICC would be paying for it). Unfortunately a foreigner can not turn up with a Cambodian child and have the child admitted. It needed to be a Cambodian adult. This meant his mother had to take him which absolutely terrified her. Her husband passed away a year or so ago and I don't think she had any other children (they may also have passed away). She had never been off the Island in her entire life.
To put this into perspective for you, imagine living in a country town all your life with the most basic living conditions - no power, water collected in a large pot and a wood and grass one room hut to live in. There may be small motor bikes and the odd car, but the rest are donkey or cow drawn carriages and bicycles. You don't read or write. The only thing you know about the city is what you can see through the thick haze in the distance. It would be like being a pioneer in the late 19th century and suddenly being dropped in the middle of New York city and told to find your way to the local hospital. This is why his mother was terrified.
Tanya handed $20 over to the Pastor to ensure that the boy got to hospital. This would be round trip Ferry and Tuk Tuk money. For some reason the Pastor would not take him, so it was still up to the mother who was so terrified she was crying. We left that day, not knowing if he would get there.
At lunch we were introduced to green mango that you dipped into a salty mix. This was yummo. By the end of the day this little boy was finishing it off for us.
While the last people went through the Drs and people started to pack up, my fellow crowd controller Jess, picked up a guitar and played the song "Father Abraham." If you don't know this song it is an action one. You sing the verse over and over again until you add a lot of body parts and actions at the end (like the hokey pokey). You end up at the end with: right arm, left arm, Right leg, left leg, nod your head, turn around, sit down. These two boys were so totally into it and sang well in English.
Yep Mango gone, now eating the salt while watching the entertainment. Food and a live show, what more could a little boy want.
On the ferry on the way back mum introduced me to Chhorvy. She told me what she had done with her drink. Chhorvy was sitting just in front of me on the platform so I called her closer (she didn't know me well enough at this stage). I had loosened the lid on my water bottle. It only had a mouthful left and I poured if over her. The rest of the trip was spent trying to figure out how to say her name. Mum came up with nicknames like Chewie which then led to explaining that that is what we call chewing gum and then all manner of sticky strife came out of that one.
We were some of the last to leave the boat, mum and Chhorvy were in front of me. Without me seeing, she grabbed mum's water bottle, and then kindly let me go down the stairs (I still call it a ladder due to the angle and depth of the steps) and promptly upended it on me. I told her to wait until tomorrow. I will be ready for her. She said she was going to be ready too. I seriously needed to find a squirt gun but I don't think they have them in Cambodia (at least I hadn't seen them anywhere).
At this stage I was fast running out of clothes. I had 4 pairs of pants with me and only my good pair were wearable. One pair had frayed when we hand washed it and the other two stretched to the point where I had to pin them up and they still fell down. The markets were useless for me for pants due to my size. Even mum struggled to get the pants over her hips. Finally Sam (the Cambodian in charge of the van drivers) took us to a tailor. We had one hour in peak hour traffic (CHAOS) to find a tailor that had nice cotton fabric and made items for women. Third Tailor made for women but their choice of fabric was limited to suit fabric and shirt fabrics. So it was that I handed over my best pants (my TS $119 stretch knit ones) to the ladies to make me 2 pairs of pants similar, out of shirt fabric. They were going to cost me $90 but I was getting desperate.
We got back just in time to head off to dinner. Yep no time to freshen up. Dinner was Mexican. I can't remember what I had but I know I ate it all. My bed was very welcoming that night though mum had developed a cough. It sounded like she was getting a cold.