I came to Tanzania with the understanding that I would be running the recovery room for patients coming out of anesthesia. Once I arrived, I realized it was not so much a recovery room as a recovery hallway, but with the help of my fellow OR nurses and the anesthesiologists we adapted and overcame. It wasn’t until we arrived in Ngorongoro Crater a week later that I was able to work in the community.
I spent the day Tuesday doing home visits in the area surrounding Endulen Clinic. It was myself as the nurse, a Resident Doctor, Dermatologist, Social Worker, a Veterinarian and her trusty donkey wrangler (or husband if you prefer). Having visited people in their homes in Ghana in the past, I was at least somewhat mentally prepared for what I was going to see. What I found incredibly remarkable was how welcoming the patients and families were when the group of us arrived to their village, moving things around in their homes and pulling out whatever bucket or object they could find so that each of us could sit and be comfortable. One woman we visited had her beautiful grandchildren in the home with her, both of whom seemed simultaneously intrigued and frightened by us. Due to the fact that many people hide their HIV status from others in the village, we were forced to make up a reason why we were there visiting that particular person. In the case of this woman we told the other villagers we were there to check on her cows.
It is an incredibly eye-opening and humbling experience to be invited into someone’s home whose experiences are so different from your own life experiences and way of life. That these people trust us with such sensitive and personal information is just amazing to me and I hope we were able to touch their lives a fraction as much as they have touched mine.