Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Daily Life in Macha

Perhaps you're wondering what our our life is like day to day in Macha. To help with the illustration, we've included some of the differences in everyday terminology below. We both report to work at 7:30 in the morning. Amy rides her borrowed pink bicycle to school about 10 minutes away (20-30 by foot) and Dan walks 5 minutes to the hospital.

Amy's day at MICS begins with a staff prayer meeting before the students arrive. This is followed by a chapel service with all the students and staff and then classes are underway by 8. There are six grades at MICS - Reception (Kindergarten) through grade 5. Amy teaches sewing (FACS!) to each grade and language arts (spelling & phonics) to grade 3. She also helps with library and art on Thursdays and Fridays. From 12 - 1 she has some planning time, but she's found she often has planning to do at home too. Her school day is over at 13hrs (that is, 1pm).

Dan's day starts with a morning report of sorts with the other students, physicians and medical officers. Then it's off to round on the wards where you're assigned (Maternity, Paediatrics, Male, Female). On Tuesdays and Fridays, rounds are brief and problem focused allowing time to get to the operating theatre (that is, the OR) for the bulk of the morning. There the "major room" is kept busy with exploratory laparotomies, bilateral tubal ligations, hernia repairs, etc, while the two minor rooms are a flurry of dressing changes, wound debridement, incision & drainage, dilation & currettage, casting, etc.

By 11am much of the cases are finished and some of us head off to the Outpatient Department (OPD) to see patients there (OPD is open daily at 11 except for Sunday). If all goes well we can break for lunch at around 13hrs and resume our duties in OPD at 15hrs (3pm) working until there are no more patients to be seen (usually not too much later than 17hrs). If there are other things to take care of on the wards, then the late morning or afternoon is a good time to get that done, OPD will go on without you. Saturdays start with rounds at 8 and are followed by OPD until lunchtime (i.e. whenever all the patients are seen).

Lunch, of late, has been nsima (the Tonga word for cooked maize mealie meal) and relish (sides of veggies or meat). We've hired a local woman to help with some things around the house, namely lunch prep and some laundry here and there. After lunch Dan heads back to OPD while Amy rests from her tiring day (or plans for up-coming lessons), or goes to buy bread, eggs or vegetables from a shop or the market. She can also sometimes be found at the local library - a small library housed inside a large shipping container.

There used to be four med students here, so we established a Q4 (every fourth day) call schedule. Now there are just three of us, but we've kept the schedule. We have a cell phone that gets passed around so that we can be reached if necessary. Being on call means helping the main person on call with evening rounds at 20hrs (again problem focused) and being available if anything (e.g. a C-section) comes up overnight. Sundays the on-call folks make morning and evening rounds and take care of anything urgent in between.

After "knocking off" (finishing) at work the evenings are our own. They are usually filled with cooking, reading, watching a borrowed movie or perhaps visiting some others in the area.


  1. Absolutely fascinating! Amy resembles Grandma Groff in the "everyone at home" photo.

    Keep the info coming


  2. Hey Amy,
    I saw your mom at Byerland this morning and she gave me your blog address so I thought I would check it out! Sounds like you guys are having quite the adventure in Africa!
    We moved back to Pa and are living in the farmhouse at Pine View Dairy. I had to think of you and your days selling icecream there because we eat way to much of the stuff! ;)
    Well blessings to you both as you finish out your trip!
    Heaher Buckwalter